'Fringe' does musical noir. Wait, what?

fringe-brown-betty-320.jpg "Fringe" has piled one big episode on top of another since its return on April 1, culminating last week with Peter (Joshua Jackson) finally learning the truth about where he comes from.

So naturally, it's following that huge development with an episode Thursday (April 29) that owes a big debt to 1940s noir and features a musical interlude.

Say what now? Executive producer Jeff Pinkner explains:

"The last episode that aired, Peter learned he wasn't from our universe ... and turned his back on Walter [John Noble]," Pinkner says. "So we knew we wanted to tell an episode that really explored -- we have this phenomenal actor in John Noble and this great character in Walter -- how that affects Walter before we plunge forward into the end of the season. We came up with a narrative device to really explore Walter's feelings."

That device is Walter relating a story, "Princess Bride"-style, that casts Olivia (Anna Torv) as a hard-boiled detective and Peter as the tough guy for whom she's searching. "We felt it was a way to get across Walter's [frame of mind] and where his head is right now with his son missing," fellow exec producer J.H. Wyman says. "There's a very good reason why it's noir. It's because of [Walter's] own history and things like that, which you'll see."

As for the musical portion, it's part of a sweeps stunt called "FOX Rocks," with a number of the network's shows featuring sort of musical element (Thursday's "Bones" murder, for instance, involves a rock 'n' roll fantasy camp, for instance). Pinkner says that although music wasn't in their initial plans, they were able to incorporate it into the episode fairly easily.

"It really deepened and blew the episode out even further in the direction we were already taking," he says. "... This episode provided an opportunity to hold a mirror up to Walter's perspective of the world and these individuals -- Olivia, Peter and Astrid [Jasika Nicole] -- that he interacts with. We get his fractured take on the world and his condition now that Peter has left. The music really supports the storytelling."

Here's a sneak peek at "Fringe's" noirish episode, "Brown Betty," which airs at 9 p.m. ET Thursday.



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Photo credit: FOX