As Fringe returns to U.S. screens tonight for its final season, we have a look at the show so radically different from pretty much everything else on American TV.

For years, U.S prime time network TV has fitted in with a number of genres. We have the cop show, the lawyer show, the sci-fi show, the doctor show and the comedy. Only in the last few years has the ‘supernatural show’ become a big part of network TV across the pond. All the major shows fit into these core patterns, and only by sticking to those templates do they gain a long life.

The more niche a genre is, the greater the chance of failure. In the world of science fiction, such a mainstay of cinema hasn’t truly found a consistent home since the demise of Star Trek or The X Files. Even then, the weirder the sci-fi, the bigger chance it won’t take off.

Which makes he continued success of Fringe all the more surprising, as it delights in fitting in no particular genre and in being the single most bonkers show that TV has dealt with since Lost. Apart from Fringe seems to have a plan.

Initially centring on a team investigation the paranormal, Fringe has since gone absolutely off the reservation, with multiple universes and bald, bullet catching bad guys just an appetiser of the shows brilliant insanity.

Fringe’s flat out, go-for-broke mentality is exactly the reason why it fails to bring in the tons of punters usually needed for a show of Fringe’s size but is also the reason why the show has become more thrilling and unpredictable than pretty much any other show out there. Even premium cable’s best can’t top Fringe sometimes.

While completely and utterly bamboozling for any new viewers, the show’s absolute labyrinthine plot is a fantastic thing to see on network television, a place where far too often the plotlines to ‘complex’ dramas are written in crayon.

One of the most interesting parts of Fringe though is just how rocky a start it had in life. With characters that didn’t really fit together quite right, not the world’s most enveloping plots and a real confusion as to quite what the show was going to be, it was only at the end of its fledgling year that Fringe really started to gel.

Ever since then though the series has developed a devout group of fans who will surely be glad to see that it’s the show’s writers calling time on the show, and not the executives funding it.

Even since the show’s inception though, others have tried and failed to get weird, mind bending TV on to the mainstream network shows. Awake was killed after a year, as was Flash Forward and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles only lasted two years.

Still, despite bleeding viewers since it’s maiden season, the show has defied absolutely every odd and survived until now. Will it happen again? Probably not, but thank goodness it was a show as inventive and fresh as Fringe that beat the numbers game.

FemaleFirst Cameron Smith

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