J.J. Abrams, the creator of Lost and Alias, teams up with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Mission: Impossible 3, Transformers) to create this highly anticipated drama series. Featuring Australian newcomer Anna Torv, Dawson's Creek's Josh Jackson, John Noble and Lance Reddick, the first electrifying season of Fringe follows an unlikely trio who uncover a deadly mystery that may be part of a larger and more disturbing pattern that lives somewhere between science fiction and reality. As the season begins, FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Torv) is called in to investigate a mysterious outbreak that nearly kills her partner. The only person with any answers is an institutionalized scientist, Dr. Walter Bishop (Noble) who can only be released under the care of his estranged son (Jackson). Together, the three discover that the answer to this mystery is only a small piece of a much larger, more shocking truth.]]>
The pilot introduces us to the main characters, principally FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv, good but not great in the show's central role) and others on the task force brought in to investigate some gross goings-on aboard a jumbo jet (a "self-eradicating, airborne toxin" reduced everyone to blood and bones). Seems this is but one part of "The Pattern," a series of synchronous, similarly shocking events that unfold as the show progresses; in subsequent episodes, lots of people are killed in graphic fashion by all manner of horrors, including scary monsters (slugs as big as a football, teethed parasites that can crush your heart), a gas that freezes a busload of passengers "like insects trapped in amber," people so radioactive they can literally make your brain boil… it goes on. Helping Dunham and the rest of the force figure it all out are scientist Dr. Walter Bishop (an appealing John Noble), who's spent the past 17 years locked up in the loony bin and whose research may be responsible for some of the crimes we witness, and his son-babysitter Peter (Joshua Jackson). As for the "fringe" element, Dr. Bishop and other, less benign geniuses jump-start a dead man's brain, photograph another victim's cornea in order to access the last thing she saw before death, connect Dunham to her boyfriend so she can experience his memories of the incident that left him comatose, use high-frequency vibrations to enable bank robbers to pass through a solid vault wall, and much, much more. As for where and how all of this ends up, let's just that inquiring minds will have to hang in for the long, complicated run.
Bonus features are many and varied; among the best are "Deciphering the Scene" (brief explications of key scenes in every episode) and "The Massive Undertaking" (detailing how certain special effects sequences were pulled off). --Sam Graham