I watched it religiously for the first three years, but the early eps of season four just didn't grab me. So I came and went that year, really enjoying it for a few weeks around the middle, but finding it lackluster overall. After the Observer episode and the finale, I pretty much felt like I was done with the show. As I said in my last post, I literally watched the season five episodes that were still available on Fox out of boredom - nothing to do over the weekend and I was caught up on everything else. Surprisingly, I found myself getting invested in the storyline. I still don't like it "in principle," I guess (I honestly feel the show would have been better if it had ended after year three), but on a superficial level, I'm enjoying it. I had similar experiences with Smallville and The X-Files - even though I got to a point where I was checked out of the show overall or felt that things had gone sharply downhill, I was still able to watch the occasional episode and enjoy it on a popcorn level. (I especially liked some of the season eight X-Files eps focusing on Doggett - the 'mythology' was rubbish by then, Mulder was gone, and Scully was a completely different character, but the monster of the week shows could still be decent from time to time, and the show definitely needed some new blood in the cast department by that point).
As for Fringe, I feel the first three years told a complete story, and yes, I have a hard time imagining how someone could come in late in the game during that period, at least not without getting caught up at some point. But I don't feel the last two seasons have really expanded on the underlying mythology that was established and elaborated on during the initial three. They feel like unnecessary sequels, rather than chapters of a trilogy (or tetralogy, or whatever). Season four actually re-wrote a lot of the show's backstory (something that would seem to me to be a cardinal sin on a show like this), and the premise of season five just feels totally out of left field, like the 'Highlander II' of the Fringe franchise. The writing's still good though. Everything that's happening now just feels profoundly beside the point, to me, from a 'big picture' perspective. It's like season five of Fringe is an entirely different show, albeit not necessarily a bad one.
Edited by TonyB79 - 12/13/12 at 6:42pm