Fringe: Brown Betty Review -

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  • TV Series: Fringe
  • Episode: Brown Betty
  • Starring: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Jasika Nicole, Lance Reddick
  • Written By: Jeff Pinker, J.H. Wyman, Akiva Goldsman
  • Directed By: David Seith
  • Network: Fox
  • Series: Fringe

Fringe: Brown Betty Review

Fringe Goes Musical… Kinda

By Kurt Anthony Krug     April 30, 2010

Fringe Review
© Fox/Bob Trate


Sorry, people, but you really couldn’t classify this episode of Fringe – called “Brown Betty,” which is the Über-weed John Noble’s Walter Bishop smokes at the beginning – as a musical episode along the lines of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Once More With Feeling.”
It really didn’t have that much music in it. Sure, you had the Singing Corpses (cute), and regular cast members Lance Reddick, Jasika Nicole, and Anna Torva strut their vocal talents, but it was only for a few bars, contrary to the musical numbers they’re supposed to perform per the ads. “Once More With Feeling” had multiple musical numbers, where the cast members sang full-out songs more than once. What’s a shame is that Reddick and Nicole have beautiful singing voices, putting some of the “Buffy” cast members to shame (Torv’s is nice too, but you really don’t hear her sing that long, unfortunately). The scene where Rachel was singing Tears For Fears in Walter’s voice before it cuts to Walter singing was funny, but that was really it as far as singing goes.
The hardboiled, Chandler-esque feel – a tribute to film noir – works. Anna Torv is a beautiful woman and her beauty was accentuated with the period clothing she wore, along with the ruby red lipstick, a stark contrast to the drab clothes she usually wears on the show. There were plenty of anachronisms, such as the roadster and the laptop.
The scene where Pepper Potts… er, that is Olivia has to jury-rigged Tony Stark’s… um, Peter’s chest with batteries in order to keep him alive after his artificial heart was stolen was straight out of Iron Man. This also was reminiscent of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, who has no heart.
Leonard Nimoy, who has a recurring role as William Bell, contributed a voiceover to this episode. Another nice touch was Olivia lamenting her broken heart as she looked at a photo of John Scott (former cast member Mark Valley, who now appears on The Human Target. Torv and Valley met on the set of Fringe and were later married, but it was recently announced that the two have split, which doubtlessly gave this scene more weight).
All in all, what was supposed to be a fun filler episode before the question of where Peter went at the end of the last episode when he found out he was the Peter from an alternate reality – one of the turning points in the show’s mythology – fell flat. Thankfully, we get back to that next week.


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NotAFan 4/30/2010 2:57:53 AM

I hate filler episodes, but I for one was happy it wasn't a full blown musical! That is some Cliched bull$h!T that has already been done to death! Anyone who is disappointed that there wasn't a fullblown musical should just go watch GLEE with the other teenage girls!

midwest216 4/30/2010 3:36:42 AM

My favorite show on tv, I chose to skip this episode BS! Now please oh please get back to the story line and what makes this show so great.

LittleNell1824 4/30/2010 6:28:28 AM

The only plot-worthy moment seemed to come with the revelation that Nina Sharp wants the doors between worlds opened up so she can be with her true love, William Bell. Is that what she's all about, is that why she interferes, lies, obstructs, aids, and schemes?

I liked a lot of the visual elements in the show. Anna Torv in makeup. I love that she goes makeup free for the role, but she did look great in this episode. Walter's fantasy laboratory. The glass heart. Lance Reddick looked very cool in the hat, and I loved his alter-personality - makes me want to see him in a role other than "mysterious and aloof." And Peter. I love looking at Peter. (sigh)

spiderhero 4/30/2010 12:12:14 PM

Fell flat? I usually can't stand episodes like this, but I really enjoyed it. It even served to move the story along. I was glad they didn't sing much but I must admit they have talent.

ArkoblaConn 4/30/2010 1:15:58 PM

I suspect, heavily, that there are details within this episode that will play out in episodes to come.  I enjoyed it....perhaps not as much as a full blown non filler, but its also an insight into Walter's psyche...something that I think is vital to coming episodes. 


(Did you catch the cow and her multi colored dots??)



ponyboy76 4/30/2010 2:58:06 PM

I wouldn't consider this a "musical" episode but I thought it was really cool and well done. Probably because I love it when shows do this sort of thing. I'm a big fan of film noir gumshoe type flicks. When I saw that pick of Mark Valley, my first thought was " damn, they just split up in real life" Second thought was, "I really hope they renew Human Target."

Olivia was hot and very believable as a private dick and her and Peter's chemistry is pretty undeniable in this ep.  And Lance Reddick can sing pretty damn well.

asromatifoso 4/30/2010 6:16:27 PM

 I liked this episode a ton.  Loved the laptop and the multi-colored cow.  Awesome fight scene with Peter and Olivia against the watchers, too!

BTW, Notafan, Glee is a great show!  I don't know why you wouldn't love a show with great music, dancing, humor, and drama.  Perhaps it's too "gay" for you but whatever, it rocks!  Not everything has to be action, or sci-fi, so lighten up a little:) 

asromatifoso 4/30/2010 6:17:14 PM

 I liked this episode a ton.  Loved the laptop and the multi-colored cow.  Awesome fight scene with Peter and Olivia against the watchers, too!

BTW, Notafan, Glee is a great show!  I don't know why you wouldn't love a show with great music, dancing, humor, and drama.  Perhaps it's too "gay" for you but whatever, it rocks!  Not everything has to be action, or sci-fi, so lighten up a little:) 

thorin02 4/30/2010 8:43:16 PM

 I thought this was a good episode.  And as a character study of Walter really interesting.  He views himself as almost irredeemable.  None of his good deeds make up for the pain he's caused others.   It also shows how Walter views people around him.  Their roles, personalities, strengths etc.  

The 'musical' numbers were mandated by Fox and I thought the writers did a good job of incorporating them into the story and all the actors have great voices.  The music added to the emotion of each scene and served as a insight into the characters (at least as Walter sees them). 

The promotion, which was almost certainly controlled by Fox, way oversold this as a 'musical' episode and created some off expectations.  Probably why the first two paragraphs dealt more what the reviewer thought the episode was going to be rather than what it actually was.  

And can we geeks please start acknowledging that musicals existed LONG before Buffy (Moonlighting did a musical episode, I Love Lucy did musical episodes).  just because it was the first time you saw something does mean it was the first time it ever happened.

DaForce1 5/1/2010 3:04:54 AM

 I thought it was a good episode as well, and a MUCH needed break in the Peter/Walter melodrama. Plus, I think we got a bit more truths from Walter in this story then we would have if it had been a normal episode. 

Finally, I'm getting tired of the watchers. Yeah, they show up when something important is about to happen, but if you're not going to explain them any further than that, then don't have them in every single episode when nothing important is happening. Otherwise it defeats the purpose of them being in the series in the first place. 

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