Fans of Fringe know it is an extraordinary TV series. But what makes it so extraordinary?
One reason is that the writers invested the series with extraordinary emotional significance, by raising the stakes as high as they could imagine. They did this when they came up with the series overall arc. They asked themselves, "How can we make our story matter, far more than usual?"
In many investigative TV series the protagonists solve the murder of a single individual. To wit: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. A great series. One of my favorites. But clearly the stakes are far smaller. As the theme song goes, "Who are you?"
Fringe is a investigative TV series as well. But in Fringe the protagonists race against time to prevent the murder of billions of individuals, not to mention prevent the annihilation of not one, but two entire universes!
How's that for a plot/theme fraught with significance? How's that for a high stakes game? How's that for carrying the weight of the world on one's shoulders?
All of this is on the physical level. We haven't even come to the psychological level. There the writers have been equally ambitious. Perhaps even more so.
Many of the extraordinary phenomenon in the physical universe of Fringe, such as the protagonists' dopplegangers in Universe B, suggest Jungian complexes in the psychological universe. This opens the doors to endless character complexities.