Back in December I wrote a little bit about the new quality TV Programming the Fall of 2008 gave us. And while Heroes has since jumped the shark for the 15th time and I'm totally checked out of that series, and House has resorted to fighting for proverbial plot scraps to maintain my attention (though the hallucination plotline this past season ended on was a good one, I just wish they'd make it less formulaic), there were some high points. No I don't mean the return for new seasons of Gangland and Deadliest Catch (though those do start this week). Nor do I mean a second season of Sons Of Anrchy (which will return in Summer '09 with Henry Rollins. No, I think what impressed me the most was the way they wrapped up the first season of Fringe.
I originally billed it as a bit of a revised X-Files, and while I still think it fits the bill there, its also a bit more linear than the X-Files was. In much the same way Law & Order does things with the X-Files there were certain linear aspects to the story (ie, plot points that carried over from episode to episode and season to season), for the most part each episode seemed to be a stand-alone episode with only a few minutes a week given to the over-arching story. Burn Notice is another show that does this. Fringe meanwhile has each episode contributing to the building of a larger story in the much more traditional format for a drama.
Semantics aside though, what's really impressed me about Fringe is how they've tied together the most confusing (don't mistake that for outlandishly absurd like Lost) and far-fetched beginning of the series and progressed it to the point where it starts to actually make sense, but becomes compelling. At the end of the first half of Season One I was really unsure of the show, but at the prodding of a few friends decided to give it another go and they were dead on-the second half of the first season they actually explained who people were, what was going on, and managed to make the characters more endearing and interesting-in other words, the series finally had life.
At this point in time, I feel fairly confident saying that Fringe and Sons of Anarchy were the best new television shows 2008 gave us, even if Fringe spilled over into 2009-and if you're something to replace a show you've lost, I can't suggest enough giving them a try.