I have to lead off immediately by drawing the Lost comparison because, as Victoria pointed out to me 5 minutes into the show, I fear that I might have enjoyed the pilot solely because it reminded me so much of Lost - my obsession for Lost being a matter of public record. For instance:
- The show begins on a plane that's suffering through a particularly rotten patch of turbulence, which seems like a deliberate allusion to Lost (which, though it doesn't begin with the crash, is overdetermined by that sort of TV-plane-disaster imagery)
- The guy that plays the authoritative, mysterious, and ambiguously bad guy Matthew Abaddon in Lost plays the authoritative, mysterious, and ambiguously good guy Phillip Broyles in Fringe
- The score is nearly identical. The same crescendo builds and suddenly stops before every tense reveal or commercial break.
- I swear, one of the photos that Broyles shows to Olivia when he tries to recruit her to join his team had a Dharma logo on it. Or some close approximation of it.
- The show uses a variation on an early swerve that was supposed to happen in the pilot of Lost. In that early draft, Jack (who, as the name implies, should be the everyman) would be set up as the main character only to die half-way through and cede the protagonist's role to Kate. In Fringe's pilot, Olivia and John (same rule applies) are set up as our co-leads, only for John to fall victim to an explosion 15 minutes in. In a bit of a new twist, John lives long enough for us to learn that he's actually a low-level villain - and Olivia is installed as the main character, just like Kate was supposed to be.
But no pilot is perfect, right? (Except for the Lost pilot, maybe...)
* This is not the sort of work that a good "Show-X-meets-Show-Y" cliché should accomplish, of course. The combination should be wacky or unexpected, and typically draws its material from different genres, if not different planets. For instance: my friend Claudio, in an interview to get into a University program many years ago, was asked a question to the effect of "sum up your dream film project". He responded with five words: "Citizen Kane meets American Pie". Which is perhaps a needlessly absurd example, but serves as a nice counter-point, anyway. (But I won't let you know whether the answer worked.)