On Fringe

Fringe Double-Blinded Me with Science

By Robert T. Jeschonek

From the first-season episodes (not as disordered or disconnected as perhaps first they seemed) to a starring character whose antics, not long ago, would have been censored right off prime-time TV, to on-screen messages encoded in cryptic glyphs, the series Fringe itself seems like an experiment in fringe television. Up next, Robert Jeschonek reports his own experimental findings on Fringe.

Has any dramatic TV series ever been as experimental as Fringe, in the sense that its subject matter focuses on literal experimentation?

Fringe deals more with scientific experimentation than any regular series since Watch Mr. Wizard. Almost every episode deals with experimentation and its consequences. Typically, the stories revolve around experimental subjects run amuck, empowered by some extreme fringe-science treatment. Rogue scientists continuously push the limits, conducting trials that generate one menace after another, whether technological (the killer video of “No-Brainer” [1-12]), animal-derived (the multi-species hybrid creature of “Unleashed” [1-16]), or something that twists the physical laws of the Universe (the vortices opening up between parallel universes, as seen in multiple episodes including “6B” [3-14]). The Fringe Division team–Walter, Olivia, and Peter–must find a way to stop the menace, usually through new and ever more outrageous experiments.

Hypothesis 1: Human Trials Can Cause Side Effects

One of the most frequently employed types of experiment featured in Fringe can also be seen as the most ethically compromised: the unsanctioned human trial.

In our world, in the United States at least, research involving human subjects is strictly controlled. As a rule, we don’t hear much about unauthorized  …

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