TV Wasteland: Farewell to Fringe (Mania.com)

By:Rob Vaux
Date: Monday, January 14, 2013

 People described Fringe as what The X-Flies should have been like had that show not gone completely Looney Tunes in the last five or six seasons. It never achieved the pop culture frisson of its predecessor, but it benefitted from the comparatively lack of attention by resolutely marching to its own beat. Faltering ratings made its cancellation a matter of time, but Fox gave the fan base proper closure – which is pretty much the Holy Grail of TV as far as I’m concerned.

It also demonstrates the shifting – some would say shifted – sensibilities of the medium. If you pitched something like Fringe today, you’d almost certainly do it on cable, where quirky and offbeat shows spring like wildflowers. The networks have tried to play catch-up, but the bitter aftertaste of the Lost finale (to say nothing of The X-Files) still lingers, and with a few exceptions, network shows feel increasingly watered down and compromises. Fringe was one of the few exceptions to that rule (I’d add the CW’s Supernatural as well), and with it passing, another piece of the network model falls by the wayside. I’m not sure what they’ll replace it with, but it probably won’t be nearly as funky and out-of-left-field as this one.
The series finale of Fringe – and coincidentally, its 100th episode – airs this Friday, January 18th at 8:00 PM EST on Fox.
 

Monday

Continuum (Syfy, 8:00 PM EST)
Syfy imports a Canadian series about a future cop who travels back in time to hunt down a group of escape fugitives from her own era.
 
Being Human (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
The American remake of the British cult series returns for Season Three, as Adrian discovers just how much vampire society has changed.
 
Lost Girl (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
The quirky Canadian series returns for a full third season on Syfy.
 
What Lies Beneath (TCM, 9:00 PM EST)
It’s always depressing when a recent movie earns the “classic” title (so old… so, so old…). Case in point: this fair-to-middling ghost story from Robert Zemeckis. It’s barely a dozen years old.
 
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EST)
The Avengers notwithstanding, Robert Downey’s had trouble with sequels lately. 
 
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (FX, 7:00 PM EST and 10:30 PM EST)
Oh Michael Bay, is there anything you can’t ruin with inappropriate mom-based sexual innuendo?
 
Paul (HBO, 10:15 PM EST)
Shaun of the Dead stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost head up another charmer about two sci-fi fans who help an honest-to-God alien avoid capture by the U.S. government. 
 

Tuesday

Face Off (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
A new season begins with a fresh round of contestants creating “goblin king” make-up. Noted dwarf and archaeological sidekick John Rhys-Davies serves as guest judge.
 
The Thing (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
The 1982 John Carpenter classic just gets better with age.
 
The Faculty (IFC, 10:15 PM EST)
IFC’s commercials bug me to no end, but I gotta admit: this is a great double billing on IFC.
 
Braveheart (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
I’m sure no one regrets giving Mel Gibson a Best Director Oscar at all…
 
The Matrix Trilogy (Cinemax, 5:20 PM EST, 7:40 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST)
Feel free to stick around until the precipitous drop-off in quality becomes too much to stand.
 
The Muppets (Starz, 7:10 PM EST)
Jason Segel and director James Bobin pull off a reboot worthy of Jim Henson himself. You can also catch it on Sunday at the same time if you miss it.
 
The Bourne Supremacy (Starz, 9:00 PM EST)
Matt Damon doesn’t miss a step in this solid continuation of the Bourne franchise.
 
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Starz, 10:50 PM EST)
This gobbling turkey airs again on Saturday for those who – following sick, diseased urges spawned from the depths of hell itself – want to see it more than once.
 
The A-Team (FX, 7:00 PM EST) 
Joe Carnahan and Liam Neeson have a ball updating the 80s television staple about a group of U.S. Rangers on the run from their own government.
 
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (Showtime, 8:00 PM EST)
Angelina. In her prime. Wearing a wetsuit so tight you can see her tattoos through it. I’m honestly not sure this film has anything else to offer, but does anyone really care?
 

Wednesday

Arrow (The CW, 8:00 PM EST)
New episodes return as Oliver takes a breather from crime fighting and assesses his next move.
 
Supernatural (The CW, 9:00 PM EST)
The CW’s other Wednesday show sports new episodes as well, with Castiel attempting to spring a fellow angel whom Crowley is holding prisoner.
 
American Horror Story: Asylum (FX, 10:00 PM EST)
Grace’s fixation on aliens takes a turn for the ugly, even while Sister Jude deals with a new inmate.
 
Ghost Hunters (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
We’re off to Tinseltown for a look at famous ghosts of Hollywood. Believe me, there are plenty to choose from.
 
From Hell (BBC America, 9:00 PM EST)
Johnny Depp takes on Jack the Ripper, and despite a rather silly twist at the end, the results are pretty damn awesome.
 
Final Destination 5 (Cinemax, 9:00 PM EST)
There’s nothing awesome here, but if you give it a chance, it’s not half bad.
 
Hanna (HBO, 6:30 PM EST)
And… we’re right back to awesome.
 
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood and Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (IFC, 8:00 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST)
IFC has repeatedly festooned its schedule with the bitter dregs of the Friday the 13th franchise. Here’s two of them to prove my point.
 

Thursday

Haven (Syfy, 8:00 PM EST)
Syfy airs the last two episodes of the season – delayed after the Newtown massacre because the first one depicts murder at a high school.  Agree or disagree with the decision; just be glad they’re finally airing the shows.
 
Last Resort (ABC, 8:00 PM EST)
The President comes under fire even while Chaplin prepares to give up the Colorado.
 
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8:00 PM EST)
Rebekah grills the gang about a cure, while Bonnie receives some unwelcome attention from her dear old dad.
 
Green Lantern (HBO, 8:00 PM EST)
I hate to keep beating up on DC, but movies like this make it so easy.
 
Scream (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
Wes Craven supposedly upended the horror genre with this effort... though frankly, I find it too smug and condescending to enjoy.
 
House of 1000 Corpses (IFC, 10:30 PM EST)
Rob Zombie has passion, but like a lot of genre directors, he loses “frightening” in favor of “merely unpleasant.”
 
Freaky Friday (Starz, 7:20 PM EST)
Oh LINDSEY…
 
Scary Movie 3 (Starz, 9:00 PM EST)
There’s a genuine comedy legend at the helm here. That’s even sadder than the fallen child star preceding it.
 
The Big Bang Theory and Elementary are reruns this week.
 

Friday

Fringe (Fox, 8:00 PM EST)
The series comes to an end as the Fringe team takes on the Observers in a battle to the finish. See the top of the article for more.
 
Nikita (The CW, 8:00 PM EST)
Nikita finally learns the identity of the mole in Amanda’s organization.
 
Merlin (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
Uther’s ghost runs wild through Camelot, prompting Merlin and Arthur to engage in a little exorcism.
 
Silence of the Lambs (Cinemax, 6:05 PM EST)
Among its other achievements – like being on the short list of the greatest horror movies ever made – it’s one of a tiny handful of films to sweep the five biggest Oscars (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay).
 
Hannibal (BBC America, 9:00 PM EST)
Thomas Harris fucked this thing in the ass long before it got to the screen.  I don’t blame Ridley Scott for the results. I just wish he could have done more.
 
I, Robot (Cinemax, 8:05 PM EST)
This one would be just fine if only they’d found another title for it.
 
Hancock (FX, 10:00 PM EST)
Hey, it’s a Will Smith party tonight. Everybody get jiggy with it!
 
The Punisher (Spike, 10:00 PM EST)
I like Thomas Jane, but he’s no Frank Castle.
 
John Carter (Starz, 6:45 PM EST)
I know it made no money, but seriously: no Best Visual Effects nod? 
 

Saturday

Disney Animation Marathon (ABC Family, 11:26 AM EST)
Disney fans can catch a whole day of classic features on ABC Family, including Mary Poppins (11:26 AM EST), Lady and the Tramp (2:25 PM EST), Hercules (4:01 PM EST), Aladdin (6:00 PM EST), Cinderella (8:00 PM EST) and Alice in Wonderland (9:45 PM EST).
 
First Blood Trilogy (Spike, 6:09 PM EST, 8:15 PM EST and 10:20 PM EST)
They dropped the fourth one and I’m not sure why. In any case, it’s a good block of programming for getting your grime on.
 
Ice Road Terror (Syfy, 7:00 PM EST)
There’s some weird connection here between icy roads and dinosaurs on the rampage. Frankly, we haven’t been able to watch this one long enough to figure it out.
 
Tasmanian Devil (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
Apparently, they’re keeping giant versions of the vicious beasties under wraps, upping the entertainment value when some dipshit thrill seekers parachute into their territory.
 
Hulk (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
Oscar winner (and current nominee) turns in a controversial but nonetheless fascinating take on everyone’s angry green guy.
 
Casino Royale (BBC America, 6:00 PM EST)
Best. Reboot. Ever. It repeats Sunday at 8:00 PM EST on the same station.
 
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (Cartoon, 7:00 PM EST)
Jim Carrey scores one of his better performances in this delightfully dark adaptation of the bestselling children’s books.
 
Iron Man 2 (FX, 6:30 PM EST)
Yup. Downey.  Sequels. Not a good match lately.
 
The Prestige (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
Hugh Jackman has an Oscar nomination. If you’ve seen this film, you won’t be surprised.
 
Edward Scissorhands (IFC, 10:45 PM EST)
Tim Burton proved that Batman was no fluke here. And now he’s his own brand name. Sigh… 
 
Real Steel (Showtime, 7:50 PM EST)
More Hugh Jackman. It’s not half the film that The Prestige is, but at least there’s no commercials.
 
Terminator Salvation (TNT, 7:00 PM EST)
McG had the entire Hollywood press corps convinced that this would be the greatest movie ever made. The man could sell ice to Eskimos.
 
The Book of Eli (TNT, 9:30 PM EST)
We’ll add Denzel Washington to the Liam Neeson List of People We Don’t Ever Want Angry at Us. 
 

Sunday

Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8:00 PM EST)
Dr. Whale has to operate on a new visitor in town who may reveal  Storybrook’s true nature if he lives. 
 
The Transporter (AMC, 8:00 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST)
I can’t say I’m a fan, but who doesn’t love Jason Statham pounding the righteous crap out of people?
 
The Lion King (ABC Family, 8:00 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST)
It’s not a classic. Please stop saying that it is.
 
Mars Attacks! (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EST)
I kind of love this. Don’t judge me.
 
Zodiac (FMC, 8:00 PM EST)
David Fincher’s baffling, brilliant observation of the Zodiac killings of the 1970s cements his status as a true auteur.
 
Skyline (Spike, 8:00 PM EST)
This, on the other hand, is one of the worst movies you will ever see.
 
The Haunted Mansion (Starz, 9:00 PM EST)
Even at their worst, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies aren’t one-tenth as bad as this. 
 
Star Trek VI and Star Trek: Generations (Syfy, 6:00 PM EST and 8:30 PM EST)
The original crew says good-bye in one of their better efforts and the TNG crew says hello in one of their worse. What are ya gonna do?
 


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