Fringe is an American science fiction television series created by J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. The series follows a Federal Bureau of Investigation "Fringe Division" team based in Boston, Massachusetts under the supervision of Homeland Security. The team uses unorthodox "fringe" science and FBI investigative techniques to investigate a series of unexplained, often ghastly occurrences, which are related to mysteries surrounding a parallel universe. The show has been described as a hybrid of The X-Files, Altered States, The Twilight Zone and Dark Angel.
The series premiered in North America on September 9, 2008, on the Fox network. The show currently airs Fridays at 9pm EST and has been renewed for a fourth season during the 2011–2012 television season. On April 26 2012, the announcement was made that FOX had renewed it for a fifth and final season of 13 episodes! Fringe's fifth season started on September 28, 2012 and ended Januari 18th 2013.
Much of the story arc for Fringe involves a parallel universe that mostly mirrors the prime universe, but with numerous historical idiosyncrasies. A significant example element used is the effect of the September 11 attacks; though this event also occurred in the parallel universe, the World Trade Center was untouched by the attacks, leaving the buildings as predominate landmarks in the parallel world's "Manhatan" skyline, and used as the offices of Dr. William Bell in several episodes.
The producers were strongly interested in "world building", and the parallel universe plot device allowed them to create a very similar world with a large amount of detail to fill in the texture of the world. A parallel universe would also allow them to show "how small choices that you make define you as a person and can change your life in large ways down the line", according to co-director Jeff Pinkner.
However, the producers also realize the concept of the parallel universe could be confusing to viewers and have introduced elements of the world in small pieces over the course of the first two seasons before the larger reveal in the second season finale and third season. J.H. Wyman stated that he would often pass the story ideas for the parallel universe by his father to see if it made sense, and would rework the script if his father found it confusing. Such world building also gave them a risky opportunity to create stories that focused solely on characters from the parallel universe with nearly no ties to the main characters; as stated by Wyman, they would be able to "make two shows about one show", a concept that the network executives embraced.
Fringe follows the casework of the Fringe Division, a Joint Federal Task Force supported primarily by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which includes Agent Olivia Dunham; Dr. Walter Bishop, the archetypal mad scientist; and Peter Bishop, Walter's estranged son and jack-of-all-trades. They are supported by Phillip Broyles, the force's director, and Agent Astrid Farnsworth, who assists Walter in laboratory research.
The Fringe Division investigates cases relating to fringe science, ranging from transhumanist experiments gone wrong to the prospect of a destructive technological singularity to a possible collision of two parallel universes. The Fringe Division's work often intersects with advanced biotechnology developed by a company called Massive Dynamic, founded by Walter's former partner, Dr. William Bell and run by their common friend, Nina Sharp. The team is also watched silently by a group of bald, pale men who are called "Observers".