TV Week

A Plane Lands, A Mystery Unfolds

 The Washington Post's TV Week -- Sept. 7-13, 2008
The Washington Post's TV Week -- Sept. 7-13, 2008
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Sunday, September 7, 2008


Premieres Tuesday at 8 p.m. on Fox; regularly airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m.

Basic story: "Twelve Monkeys" meets "The X Files" in this odd suspense thriller from J.J. Abrams ("Lost," "Alias"). An international plane lands via autopilot at Boston's snowy Logan airport, bearing grisly cargo: the remains of everyone on board. Suspecting bioterrorism, FBI agents Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and John Scott (Mark Valley) begin an investigation, but when Scott is stricken by what appears to be a fatal flesh-eating bacteria, Dunham seeks help from an eccentric scientist (John Noble) and his estranged son (Joshua Jackson) to unravel the mystery and save her colleague.

What it faces: In its regular time slot, it airs against ABC's unscripted "Dancing With the Stars " results show, CW's "Privileged," NBC's "The Biggest Loser," and CBS's new "The Mentalist."

What you'll love: The fast-paced action zigzags between locations, while special effects emphasize the sci-fi elements. Light touches add balance: the agents' romance, Noble's character eating ice cream while watching "SpongeBob SquarePants" with a live cow. (Producers were forced to find a replacement for said cow after the pilot wrapped in Toronto and the Canadian heifer couldn't be imported to New York.) Australian native Torv is believable as an ambitious FBI careerist, and Blair Brown is ominous as a mysterious corporate presence with an artificial arm.

What you won't: Much like "Lost," "Fringe" may leave viewers wandering in a maze of confusion.

Bottom line: With what appears to be an infinite number of deadly viruses out there, viewers can only hope the FBI can pinpoint them all.

-- Kathy Blumenstock

© 2008 The Washington Post Company