I initially started with the idea of doing a review on this book “Fringe: September’s Notebook”. Then I realised, doing a pure review will put off many people who know nothing about Fringe. Therefore, I decided to include a brief introduction of this amazing TV series that many should watch. Before you think this is a low-end TV series, it has won Saturn awards for best TV series in 2010 and 2011. The lead actress Anna Torv won 4 consecutive awards for Best Actress 2009-2012. Definitely no push-over.
So what is Fringe? (I will mark out the spoilers)
The Wikipedia article on this series is a little long-winded so I shall do my own summary.
Fringe is an American science-fiction TV series that lasted 5 seasons from September 2008 to January 2013. It mainly follows the encounters of FBI agent Olivia Dunham, her partner Peter Bishop, his “mad” scientist father Walter Bishop and their assistant Astrid Farnsworth. They work under the fictional secretive section of the FBI known as Fringe Division. The name comes from the term Fringe Science meaning science which is non-mainstream. Intuitively, they investigates cases on strange phenomena associated with Fringe Science. If you have seen and loved X-Files, you will be happy to know that Fringe is a spiritual successor to that series as well although it exhibits its own individuality.
This is not another CSI or X-Files if you are wondering. There is an overarching mythology that is emphasised right from the first episode of Season 1. As the characters put it, Fringe cases include but are not limited to “Mind Control, Teleportation, Astral Projection, Invisibility, Genetic Mutation and Reanimation, Psychokinesis, Precognition, Artificial Intelligence, Transmogrification, Dark Matter and Nanotechnology”. As the seasons progress, there is less and less emphasis on the cases and more on the inter-universe war and battle across time.
Since a picture speaks a thousand words, a video should convey more, hence I shall let the videos do the talking.
Trailer for the pilot of the first Season. Fringe has progressed alot since then. A fine piece of nostalgia depicting how things all started. “science and technology have advanced at such an exponential rate for so long… it may be well beyond our ability to regulate and control them” Nina Sharp.
A fan-made video. It shows the interesting Fringe cases.
So how did I first encounter this series? I have to give that credit to Channel 5 for televising the first season way back in 2009/10 I think. After that, I was an avid follower of the series. I remembered asking my Dad to record this series every Monday night so I can watch when I booked out from the army camp for the weekend.
So here is when the introduction ends. If you want to be hit by spoilers, then continue reading.
September’s Notebook is actually a companion book for the entire TV series. As a refresher, “September” is one of the 12 observers sent from the 26th century to observe key events in human history. This “Notebook” serves as his personal diary, recording down his observations and thoughts of the events he was assigned to watch. Obviously, most of the events are associated with the Fringe Division and its personnel.
It is divided into several parts,
1. A “brief” glance from Season 1-5
2. Fringe cases from “over here”
3. Fringe cases from “over there”
4. Personality differences between characters of the two Universes
5. A section that focuses exclusively on Season 5
As usual, you can click on the images to view the higher-res ones.
This book really goes into minute details. A short bio for most of the minor characters is provided. It does provide an off-screen insight into why the characters performed the way they did on-screen.
Summaries of key events like how the main characters met each other.
A deep insight into Walter Bishop’s behaviors. Interesting tidbits about his quirks and favourite foods detailed.
Fringe cases from “over here”. This is one part of the book which I hate in terms of construction. The publishers decided to literally paste notes of Fringe cases on top of other text. To read the text below, you have to slowly peel away the glued paper. Messy business.
The bottom right case is my favourite case of all. Imagine a man-made virus that can assassinate only a specific person or a group of people by their DNA.
The Fringe producers really made alot of unseen effort to differentiate between the Universes. Things like cartoon characters and airships.
A page dedicated to how (B)Olivia lived her life “over there”. I really liked the Fringe logo from over there.
The book is peppered with “pop-outs”. This picture reel was quite an emotional piece, a fitting entry to this book.
The section theme of the Over There cases do look much better. The fonts are on the small side though.
Of all the character comparisons made, the article on Astrid Fransworth shows the greatest contrast. The book carefully conveys the differences. There is one whole episode on this too. Read for yourself.
Reading the newspaper cuttings gives an insight on how the Observers took over the world.
Up-close and personal with the observers and their tech. It sure satisfies my curiosity on their origins and purposes.
Wanted and resistance posters!!! Fringe fans will immediately recognise who are involved. There are several of these packages throughout the book. The shapes on the left are not mere decorations…
Final Words: This Fringe book need not be read only after you have watched the series. As a companion book, you can follow the stories as you watch the episodes. At nearly 200 pages of material, all I have just shown is just the tip of the iceberg of what this book has to offer for the ardent fan.You definitely will get a greater understanding of Fringe as well! For any Fringe fan, definitely a must get!
A review of this cannot end without some trivia for Fringe fans.
I did not realise until Season 3 that the Fringe producers would surreptitiously insert an Observer (almost always September) in every episode. This clip made no doubt by a hard core Fringe fan really showed me what I have missed. I’ll be sure to spot them when I rewatch Fringe.
Only watch this if you have completed Fringe. I really mean it. A touching end to the actors.
Funny moments in Fringe from Season 1-3
A collection of all the title sequences.
The Fringe Opening theme as played by my 3D Printer.
I recently found and recommend this web page that shows the Fringe web of relationships.
My first (of course originals!) Blu-Ray collection just arrived! Now I can re-watch Fringe in its 1080p high-def glory!
As Wired puts it, the end of Fringe marks the decline of Sci-Fi series on modern TV. I have to agree with this. With the end of Stargate, X-Files and now Fringe, I don’t see any other TV series stepping up to the same calibre of those shows.