Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Fringe: The Complete First Season

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
6 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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Rating: Not Rated

Starring:
Anna Torv as Agent Olivia Dunham
Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop
John Noble as Dr. Walter Bishop
Lance Reddick as Agent Phillip Broyles
Kirk Acevedo as Agent Charlie Francis
Jasika Nicole as Astrid Farnsworth
Blair Brown as Nina Sharp
Michael Cerveris as The Observer
Mark Valley as John Scott
Jacqueline Beaulieu as Nina's Assistant

Special Features:
Fringe: Deciphering the Scene on Every Episode
Dissected Files / Unaired Scenes
The Massive Undertaking Docupods on Select Episodes
Unusual Side Effects: Gag Reel
Roberto Orci's Production Diary
Gene the Cow

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.78:1)
Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound
French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai Subtitles
Running Time: 1028 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the series:

"Teleportation. Mind control. Invisibility. Astral projection. Mutation. Reanimation. Phenomena that exist on the Fringe of science unleash their strange powers in this thrilling series, co-created by J.J. Abrams ('Lost,' 'Alias'), combining the grit of the police procedural with the excitement of the unknown. The story revolves around three unlikely colleagues a beautiful young FBI agent, a brilliant scientist who's spent the last 17 years in a mental institution and the scientist's sardonic son who investigate a series of bizarre deaths and disasters known as "the pattern." Someone is using our world as an experimental lab. And all clues lead to Massive Dynamic, a shadowy global corporation that may be more powerful than any nation."

"Fringe: The Complete First Season" is not rated.

Mini-Review:
I started watching "Fringe" when it first aired. I caught the first six episodes, then they started piling up on the DVR and I missed the rest. (My wife, on the other hand, continued watching the whole series.) I liked the show well enough, but there was nothing that particularly compelled me to keep watching. It wasn't like "Heroes" or "Lost" where some bigger story was unfolding and I couldn't wait to see what happened next. Yes, "Fringe" has a bigger underlying mystery, but it takes a lot longer to unfold. I guess I wasn't patient enough.

If I had to describe "Fringe" to the uninitiated, I'd say it's a new take on "The X-Files." In each episode our FBI heroes take on a new, bizarre, unexplained mystery. Mulder and Scully are combined into FBI Agent Olivia Dunham who partly 'wants to believe' and partly is skeptical. She is teamed with a mad scientist and his estranged son. Each week they come upon a freaky murder mystery, investigate it, discover that their mad scientist was somehow involved in its development, then catch the bad guy. It definitely followed a formula. "Fringe" takes pride in the fact that each event is somewhat based on real science or real legend. They like to have a degree of believability in the scientific horror that takes place whether it be recovering images from the eye of a dead body or accelerated aging or bio-engineered mutants. However, for every reason it might seem probable, you could think of 10 reasons why it couldn't possibly happen. I think that's part of the peril of hanging your hat on believability and it often backfires on them as the mysteries become more and more outlandish.

"Fringe" does have a very strong cast. Anna Torv is great as Agent Olivia Dunham. She's tough, no-nonsense, and by the book. She's a bit of a tomboy as we almost always see her in a suit, but she's still feminine and attractive. Torv is a great leading lady. Torv is also an Australian, so I'm impressed she pulls off a convincing American accent. Joshua Jackson is also good as Peter Bishop, Walter's alienated son. His constant sarcasm can potentially turn the audience off, but he manages to walk that fine line between being annoying and appealing. John Noble has the best role in the cast as Dr. Walter Bishop, the resident mad scientist. I have no idea how a character could be such a master of medicine, physics, and every other scientific field. But Noble also pulls it off while getting the added bonus of acting eccentric and partially insane. Lance Reddick is also good as the stone faced Agent Phillip Broyles. But especially notable is a season ending cameo by Leonard Nimoy as a crucial character in the "Fringe" mythos. His appearance alone is enough to get people like me to tune in to Season 2.

I think if you enjoyed "The X-Files," you're a prime candidate to enjoy "Fringe." This show should get you through your Mulder and Scully withdrawals. Pick up this DVD and catch up now before the second season begins.

The bonus features are smeared all over this 7 disc DVD set. Each episode has a brief featurette showing some behind the scenes footage of the making of the episode. Three episodes have commentary by the crew (Abrams, Orci, Kurtzman, etc) but none of the cast. There are also deleted scenes, a gag reel, a featurette on the visual effects....and the cow. I'll also add that the lenticular cover is pretty cool looking, though I wish there was some explanation for the frogs, leaves, seahorses, and other icons that accompany each episode.

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