So in an act of surprising intelligence, Fox renewed Fringe, which happens to be very nearly the best show on TV today.

Keep in mind that I don’t watch much beyond Community, Fringe, The Chicago Code (superlative!), Bones and Castle. I’m catching up on the SG 1 seasons and you can often find me rewatching Firefly episodes.

When Eureka and Psych come back, I’ll be watching those again, too.

And I watch all of these things online, by the way, so I am usually at least a day or two behind.

Back to why I love Fringe. And why you should too. And why it’s 1,346,275,900,197.3 times better than X-Files.

X-Files was pretentious and artificial. The ‘sexual tension’ between Mulder and Scully was totally unmotivated and entirely for the purpose of stringing along the viewers. There was never an emotional reason for them to stay apart. Of course, I say this from the perspective of having been a teenager in that show’s heyday and finding it mostly boring. The ideas were cool, and the mystery dude with the cigarette was briefly interesting. But the reveals were always underwhelming and the stakes never mattered to me. What’s more, they seemed to run with any cool idea that they had– there wasn’t enough connecting the episodes.

Now, Fringe on the other hand, what a show. You have a through-story with stakes as big as they get: the universe is on the line. You have an actress with kind of a sourpuss (Sorry, Anna, it’s true. You do a good job, and you show range, but you too often look like you’re smelling natto. Blech.), which is a little lame. But you also have John Noble doing the most amazing job of anyone on TV today. Have you see his Walter and Walternate? His journey from pretty much insane to madcap and eccentric yet deeply devoted to father and friend is remarkable. Incredible. His character’s also a genius.

Remember that Noble played the Steward of Gondor, Denethor, in the second and third LOTR movies. His craggy face and emotive voice do him great justice, but the levels he reaches are where he really shines.

Just watch him and you will see what I’m talking about.

Joshua Jackson, while looking irritatingly like me some times, is still a pleasure to watch. For him, it’s his eyes. He does very careful nuance with his expression and his character is excellently written. He seems to know how to do anything, is very sweet-natured but is cool with busting things up and taking out shapechangers if need be, and seems comfortable in an operating room, chem lab, or anywhere else.

Then you’ve got some nice … ahem… fringe characters in Astrid, Broyles and Nina Sharp. All of these are wonderful. Keep in mind that Leonard Nimoy played William Bell, Walter’s partner in science as well.

So that’s the characters. The acting is excellent (sourpuss aside) and the characters all have very vibrant relationships– which is vital to any story. The relationships are wonderfully motivated as well. When there’s no longer something keeping Peter and Olivia apart, they get together. Lovely. Simple.

Then you have the ideas. Full of science that seems like it might not really be fiction. Parallel universes, where the alternate universe is populated by real people who aren’t just foils but who make a difference in their world and the world of our heroes.

It’s a smart show, with smart ideas, excellent writing, smart characters and smart action. Evil exists, but it’s in the hearts of real people who let their motivations go to extremes. Alan Ruck, for example, (Cameron Frye from Ferris Bueller) does such a nice job as a scientist who takes his hope to save his son too far.

And all of this from J.J. Abrams. And Roberto Orci. Two of the best producers/writers around.

Why should you watch Fringe? Because it’s on and why would you watch Jersey Shore or Desperate Housewives or The Real whatever’s of wherever or anything else? If you want to be transported, engaged, taken on an emotional ride and addicted, Fringe is the show.

Start at the beginning of the show so that you can see where it all really began. And marvel at writing that seems to have everything mapped out from start to end. I have every belief that this show will be one of the first (except for Lost, as I hear (I never watched it (sue me))) (enough parentheses there?) with narrative integrity. When the story’s told, it’ll be over.

Unlike Heroes. Gah. First season was strong. Then it just sucked. All of it.

Fringe for the win.