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Fringe‘s Executive Producers Talk About the Musical Episode: Part I

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Fringe is smack dab in the middle of its last season two run. This Thursday (April 29), the fifth episode of a back-to-back set consisting of eight consecutive new episodes will air. The set culminates with a two-part finale that will air on May 13 and May 20. After last week's heartbreaking reveal, as well as the events in "Jacksonville" and "Peter," the fans' questions have doubled, if not tripled. Being a fan myself, it's pretty much obvious why I couldn't pass up an opportunity to talk to Fringe's executive producers, Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman.

In this, part one of a conference call interview, we talk of the upcoming musical episode, set to air on Thursday, April 29 on FOX. Interestingly enough, there are only very mild spoilers ahead.

A lot of the questions asked during the conference call had to do with the upcoming musical episode. We're reminded that Fringe takes place in a very heightened world with the concept of perception at its center. Interestingly enough — or perhaps, dizzyingly enough — the musical is going to be placed in a world that is even more heightened than the one we have come to know and that has already given us to much to chomp on.

Too bad fans don't have access to cortexiphan…

Before even being told about the music-centric week at FOX, the Fringe team knew it wanted to follow the episode when Peter finds out about the truth with one exploring Walter's psyche following such a traumatic event. After all, Walter depends so much on Peter — he is his anchor and his guardian, the person who not only got him out of St. Claire's but pretty much kept him out in the last year and a half. And so, this episode is about holding up a mirror to Walter's perspective on the world, allowing us to understand a little better what goes on inside it.

The Fringe team already had all the elements of the episode in place when FOX called. They didn't ask for a musical; they just asked the show to somehow put music into its episode in any shape or form. And it so happened that the timing was perfect, for what better episode to seep into music than one delving into Walter's psyche? After all, as long-time Fringe fans know, Walter's memory is oftentimes jogged by the music he continuously plays while working in the lab.

This detail, by the way, was brought to us in large part by John Noble. While he was researching the character of Walter Bishop, Noble found out that many great scientists (including Einstein) worked with music. And so this episode plays with Walter's sometimes dependent relationship with music.

As Pinkner and Wyman remind us, and I'm certain fans can agree with this, Fringe's best episodes to date have been the ones that are metaphors; the musical is a metaphor within a metaphor, which is bound to make it yet another amazing episode. And for those of you who are trying to convince your friends and family to start watching Fringe, a word to the wise: Pinkner and Wyman think that this is a great episode to give insights into each of the characters' psyches, as well as to appreciate the last four episodes that were just aired.

Pinkner and Wyman are quick to reassure us that the music not only doesn't take away from the show, but adds (a lot) to it. The team was pleasantly surprised at how it all just came together. They managed to turn the request into something positive, thus throwing the episode even more solidly in the direction the team wanted it to go. The episode was supposed to be a fantastical episode in the first place, and so the music supports the storytelling.

The songs features in this episode were chosen for specific reasons, and they come from very different ends of the music spectrum. Some are recent, popular songs while others are older ones from the 1940s, and they all will drive both the story forward as well as help us deepen our understanding of the characters.

Just to drive the point that a musical isn't that much of a concept that wouldn't fit the Fringe storyline: "Brown Betty" is more Willy Wonka than anything else, and in a good way. I have yet to see the episode, but I think the analogy just might be perfect, in that Willy Wonka was a pretty crazy scientist himself, working in a giant candy lab. Granted, most of the things coming out of Walter's lab – if any – aren't edible, but apart from that, the parallels stick. I have been looking forward to this episode ever since it was first announced, and now I'm looking forward to it even more.

Stay tuned for part two of this interview, in which we treat of things pertaining to Fringe's production, Easter eggs and the end of season two.

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About Sahar

  • http://open.salon.com/blog/tricia_weight A Geek Girl

    This is going to be interesting. I’ll be there with bells on!

  • http://saharsreviews.wordpress.com Sahar

    I can’t wait to see how they are going to use music to take us into Walter’s mind – it’s a seemingly obvious yet brilliant idea!

  • Teq12

    Since Josh will not be singing and everybody else will be showing off, I wonder what the producers have in store for the Peter fans. Obviously nothing since Josh refused to sing.

  • http://saharsreviews.wordpress.com Sahar

    Teq12, excellent question. I know that he and Olivia are going to dance; do you think that’s it?

  • Blue Sunflower

    “Before even being told about the music-centric week at FOX, the Fringe team knew it wanted to follow the episode when Peter finds out about the truth with one exploring Walter’s psyche following such a traumatic event.”

    This statement really ticks me off. They want to follow up a storyline about PETER with an episode into the psyche of Walter??? It’s really annoying that even in PETER storylines, Josh is STILL getting the brush-off. I’d so rather see HIS reactions to the news.

  • Jeff

    Love Fringe, hate musicals. Won’t be watching. Made extra sure this episode is removed from the DVR. With such a great run of episodes this inane idea couldn’t come at a worse time. I can’t put into words how turned off the promo for this episode made me.

  • http://saharsreviews.wordpress.com Sahar

    Blue Sunflower: I’m sorry you feel that way! I don’t think the story ever was about Peter to be honest; after all, it’s Walter’s decisions that made the first rip in the fabric between the two universes (that we know of) to happen, and it’s Walter who has been hiding facts and truths from the team, and so it’s Walter who is going to be most affected by Peter’s departure.

    But never fear; next week’s episode seems to be mostly about Peter! Check out the stills if you want: Stills from forthcoming Fringe NorthWest Passage episode 1; Stills from forthcoming Fringe NorthWest Passage episode 2; Stills from forthcoming Fringe NorthWest Passage episode 3; Stills from forthcoming Fringe NorthWest Passage episode 4.

    Jeff, I can’t say anything about the episode yet, but the idea and the inspiration seem awesome. I would suggest you DVR it and stay tuned for my review – then you’ll have an idea if you should watch it or not.