Sometimes the people speak up and demand things, and once every 4,000 years, we listen. Earlier this week, in my review of J.J. Abrams' Alcatraz, I naturally drew comparisons to his most popular work, Lost. But given that Alcatraz has a procedural vibe, I suggested that the better comparison might be to another Abrams show: Fringe.
As I'm prone to go off on tangents, which by the way I was really great at in trigonometry because I have a natural inclination for mathematics—I don't want to promote stereotypes but maybe it's because I'm bi-racial and my Asian side took over? I don't know. Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. As I'm prone to go off on tangents, I casually floated the question of which show is better, Lost or Fringe? Several of you requested the topic get its own TV. Throwdown. And so we ask you:
Which J.J. Abrams show is better: Lost or Fringe?
Now, before you complain about the fact that Lost is over and Fringe is not, take a deep breath and use that energy to formulate a reasonable thought you can use while answering the question. We're all in the same boat here: None of us know how Fringe will end. But we do have enough of a body of work from the series to gauge its quality up to this point. This is a hypothetical question. If you like, we can ask it again when Fringe finishes its run, which hopefully won't be this May.
Okay! With that pesky fine print out of the way, let's take a look at the combatants:
Personal feelings on the ending aside, don't even try to pretend you weren't one-million percent interested in this show at one point. A mini-movie each week, Lost changed the way we watched television, thought about television, and talked about television. Heck, I cut short my participation in a good friend's bachelor party in Vegas just so I could watch the finale and write about it. The show's characters, who we came to know and love so quickly, really made Lost stand out. And no show has used the flashback device better.
Pros: Sci-fi elements that were enhanced by an ensemble of fantastic actors playing compelling characters; Michael Giacchino's riveting score; serialized television at its best; "We have to go baaaaack!"; Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn; the episodes "Walkabout" and "Through the Looking Glass."
Cons: The show's main mystery (how will it end?) was polarizing and put off many fans; several questions were left unanswered or answered unsatisfactorily; the series' second half wasn't nearly as good as its first; all the temple stuff from Season 6.
Fringe may be struggling in the ratings department and hanging on to its spot on Fox's schedule by a pinky, but it's currently network TV's best sci-fi show by a long shot and one of the best the genre has seen in the last decade. Fringe borrows several of Lost's themes, including the ideas of fate and destiny, but skips over Lost's pamphlet mysticism in favor of more left-brained theoretical science and philosophy that's almost within our grasp. Fringe has expanded on Lost's excellent storytelling by polishing the idea of "mythalone" episodes: segments that feature open-and-shut cases with parallels to the series' overarching mythology. As was the case with Lost, the show's characters are of chief importance, and the award-worthy cast brings them to life.
Pros: Though some fans haven't been thrilled with Season 4, the show seems to improve as it goes along; Michael Giacchino's riveting score; procedural elements that are actually interesting; John Noble and Anna Torv; a cool multi-universe device that allows the cast to impress us with different incarnations of their characters; unexpected humor.
Cons: Character resets have left some fans feeling emotionally detached; low viewership means lonely days around the water cooler for those looking to discuss last night's episode; the constant danger of cancellation; a slow start to Season 1.
Think it over, prepare your argument, and tell us which show you think is better in the comments. I won't often do this, but in this particular Throwdown I will allow you to answer "both." Felicity is also an acceptable answer. But Undercovers isn't.
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