One thing that I think is really effective in a TV show for creating a compelling and exciting story is having that one mysterious character that is kept in the background for a significant amount of time. Usually, the mystery of this person is built up for a number of episodes and there is a big climactic moment in which you see the character for the first time and surprise, the part is being played by a well known actor. This is what happened in Chuck when we met Chuck’s dad last season played by Scott Bakula and in Heroes when we saw Linderman for the first time played by Malcolm McDowell. In Fringe we have William Bell, the mysterious founder of Massive Dynamics played by none other than Leonard Nemoy. I think these kind of reveals are most fun when you don’t know ahead of time who is going to be playing the “man (or woman) behind the curtain.” Unfortunately, I heard on the radio ahead of time that Leonard Nemoy was going to be appearing in this role so it took some of the excitement out of the reveal. Of course, the fact that Agent Dunham meets Mr. Bell in an office in one to the World Trade Center towers in an alternate universe seems only fitting considering Nemoy’s Star Trek roots.
Last I just want to mention the character of Walter Bishop. There was a scene where Walter was in his old beach house with his son Peter having a bit of a loony freak-out session and I almost expected him to start ranting about how there could be no victory against the evil in the east and to set himself on fire. I wonder what it would look like to see John Noble play someone who isn’t crazy.