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Capone Pops his Comic-Con Cherry at JJ Abrams "Fringe" Premiere!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here, except it's really Capone in San Diego this week, attending my first Comic-Con. The event's Preview Night has just ended, and there are already things to discuss. The highlight on Wednesday was the first-ever legal, non-leaked-on-the-evil-internet (paraphrasing co-showrunner J.J. Abrams' video introduction) screening of the pilot for the new Fox series "Fringe," set to premiere September 9 and run Tuesdays at 9pm (EST). Not surprisingly, the pilot is a real attention grabber, with Abrams & Co. (including Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the team behind Abrams' Star Trek movie) giving us yet another series opener that begins with a fated airliner. Unlike "Lost," nobody survives this flight from Germany, which lands on autopilot in Boston. In fact, the way the passengers and crew die is pretty fucking gruesome, especially a certain co-pilot. FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Australian lovely Anna Torv) is brought in to investigate by her overbearing, often cruel boss (played by "The Wire's" Lance Reddick, who also appeared in a couple "Lost" episodes this last season). The evidence leads Dunham and fellow agent John Scott (Mark Valley of "Boston Legal"), who also happens to be Dunham's secret lover, to a storage facility where they find a strange lab and a familiar-looking man operating it. The ensuing chase results leads to near-fatal results for Scott when an unknown mixture of chemical causes his skin to crystalize and actually become see through. The effect is unbelievably cool. Dunham search becomes two fold: find the possible terrorist who killed a plane load of people and find a cure for her dying boyfriend. Both searches lead her to Walter Bishop (John Noble), a former Harvard researcher who has been locked up for crazy for the last 20 years. The only way Dunham can interview him is to get the permission of a family member, so she finds Bishop's son, Peter (Josh Jackson), an intelligent wheeler-dealer who sometimes seems more con artist than actual genius. The rest of the show is a wild ride toward a scientific cure that takes this group of investigators and researchers from trying to cure one man to uncovering what may be a global conspiracy to turn portions of the world's population into human lab rats--a phenomenon known as "The Pattern" in certain whispering circles. I love that the Abrams bunch has pretty much taken the documentary THE CORPORATION and turned it into the basis for this promising show. The idea that apparently random events in recent history (such as massive tsunamis) may have been the result of testing on a giant scale. I'm guessing it's no coincidence that our Dr. Bishop shard a lab at Harvard back in the day with a man who now runs one of the largest industrial science-based complexes in the world. The cast is across-the-board strong as a rock. Torv is a great new face who seems pretty game as a skeptical investigator whose work on this case opens up a new career for her--to look into criminal or dangerous abuses of "fringe science," such as teleportation, invisibility, and reanimation. Yes, I said it! Re-fucking-animation! Also very good in the cast is Blair Brown as the ice-cold corporate mouth piece for the big corporation. She's only in a couple of scenes, but they are two of the most revealing sequences in the film, and she's just masterful. Noble's portrayal of Dr. Bishop might be in need of a little toning down. This incarnation of Bishop might be too "nutty professor," which I realize is exactly what he is. But it just felt a little forced. That being said, he delivers some of the show's best lines, especially when he sets out to cook up a batch of homemade LSD. In many ways, "Fringe" is a more reality-based version of "The X-Files." I'm sure I'm not the first person to say this, nor will I be the last. But that's because the tone of the show and the potential cases that Dunham and the Bishop men will look into seem right out of a more believable, science-based version of "The X-Files." Whether the series can keep up the immediacy of the first episode is unknown, but I'm thinking yes. The pilot is a slam dunk, and at the very least, check that out in September and prepare to be immensely entertained. I've got more interviews and panel write-up over the next few days than I care to admit. But myself, Quint, and Mr. Beaks will do our damnedest to bring it all to you. For myself on Thursday, I'll be bringing you material from CITY OF EMBER, TWILIGHT, PUSH, and (hopefully) HBO's "True Blood." Plus a few surprises. The updates are going to come at you fast and furious this year. Try to keep up. -Capone

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