Attention, geeks! Another science mystery show is coming to prime time: Fringe, a new TV series about a (stereotypically) mad scientist who cracks a different case every week with his estranged son, debuts tomorrow.
In the first episode at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Fox, Dr. Walter Bishop -- "our generation's Einstein," in the understated words of the network's promotional site -- teams up with his progeny and a collection of federal agents (at least one of them an obligatory blonde) to investigate a flesh-melting virus that's killed a plane-load of passengers. J. J. Abrams, who brought us Lost, Alias and the upcoming Star Trek film, is a producer.
What's Abrams' fascination with science? He tells Popular Science that he's constantly reading science stories in the news, and that his granddad, an electronics store owner who explained to a young Abrams the inner workings of radios and transistors, is his inspiration.
"Science is about wide-open thinking and the sense that anything is possible," Abrams told the mag. "The most visionary minds are the ones that are the most fluid about what is absolute and what is variable."
While "Fringe" is expected to veer frequently into the paranormal, that's just Hollywood's way of riffing on what Abrams tells PopSci is as a natural, perennial tension between faith and reason--one ripe for poetic license. Real science aficionados can still take it seriously, Abrams told reporters during a recent conference call.
"A lot of the stuff that we're talking about is at least within the realm of possibility, although we're pushing it," the New York Daily News quotes Abrams as saying. "The stuff we're talking about now is not so much sci-fi as it is sci. The stuff that you never in a million years thought would actually be possible is happening every day."
Does Fringe sound like science to you? How well do CSI and other TV dramas (or in the case of "Psych," comedies) do science?
("Fringe" image by Fox)