Fringe: Season 5
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Fringe: The Complete Fifth Season (DVD)
The critically acclaimed and fan-favorite series, FRINGE, returns for its fifth and final season to deliver a climactic conclusion... in all worlds. Picking up from events depicted in season four’s flash-forward episode (“Letters of Transit”), the seemingly peaceful Observers seized control of our universe in 2015. Now, in 2036, they have become ruthless rulers who stand unopposed. What awaits in the future, however, is the Fringe Team’s final stand, which will bring together all they have witnessed in preparation for the final battle to protect our world. Joining Fringe scientist Walter Bishop, FBI agent Olivia Dunham, Peter Bishop and the Fringe team is Olivia and Peter’s now-grown daughter, Etta, in a final season filled with struggle, surprises and sacrifice.]]>
One of television's most intriguing and provocative science fiction shows comes to an end as Fringe bows out with this set of 13 episodes (on four discs, plus bonus material) from its fifth season. It's been quite a run, as the members of the multi-agency task force at the center of the action (principally Anna Torv as FBI Agent Olivia Dunham, John Noble as the brilliant but erratic Dr. Walter Bishop, and Joshua Jackson as Walter's son Peter) have gone from investigating bizarre phenomena (slugs as big as footballs, teethed parasites that can crush your heart) to figuring out the nuances of a parallel universe and, in this series end game, trying to save the world from their most implacable foe yet. That would be the Observers, a highly advanced species of humans who have invaded Earth (the storyline, which takes place in the year 2036, was introduced in the season four episode "Letters of Transit"). Pasty, shaven-headed (humans call them "Baldies"), and sporting identical dark suits and fedoras, the Observers have sacrificed emotion for intellect, are able to read our minds, and are pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to make it more breathable for themselves. It's a totalitarian nightmare, but our heroes have a solution, of course. Having preserved themselves in amber since the Observers showed up in 2015, they are now free and, joined by Olivia and Peter's now twentysomething daughter (Georgina Haig) and helped along by a couple of renegade Observers, they spend most of the season on a kind of doomsday scavenger hunt for the various elements of a device that will defeat the invaders.
With so much at stake, the overall tone of the show changes somewhat in this final season, with an action-adventure element marked by numerous chase scenes, gunfights, and last-second escapes from the bad guys. At the same time, this is a much more emotional Fringe; as is often the case in such tales, it's human elements like trust, sympathy, and love that distinguish us from other species, and while the finale is filled with complex pseudo-science, it's also very moving, especially when it comes to the relationship between Walter and Peter. Bonus material includes interviews with series creator J.J. Abrams and other members of the cast and crew, episode commentary, deleted scenes, and more. --Sam Graham
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Admittedly, Fringe had a bit of a stuttering beginning, but I don't believe I've ever seen a sci fi show that didn't (I'll reference Eureka here, which in my opinion had about the worst first year of any sci fi show I've seen - fast forward to its final show that I used up a box of Kleenex as my heart broke watching what became, to me, as close to the perfection of Firefly we have gotten on the entertainment medium called scripted television). Fringe, for those of you who abandoned it for whatever reasons, thus making me soon face another evening wrapped in my favorite blankie, box of Kleenex on hand as I once again, pay homage to the finale of sci fi perfection, will forever be burned into my memory with its wonderful cast of characters - Olivia, Peter, Astrid, and the ultimate arguably best character since Capt. Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly, Walter, presumably *SPOILER ALERT* defeat the Observers as they seek to strip earth of whatever they need and move on to do the same to another hapless planet. And honestly? How did they find the perfect actress to play Etta - who is the spitting image of Olivia with Peter's eyes?
While I am grateful that we get with Fringe what we have not gotten from countless other wonderful shows (she says, bitterly, still wondering just what The Event was even after two or three years). So I should be grateful to Fox who has been far more generous overall than other networks *cough* NBC *cough* for giving us closure (ie:Prison Break). But really, I couldn't say it better than either the TV Guide guy OR the USAToday guy who have shamelessly and bravely stood up for this truly brilliant show (although without ant compensation) - THIS is not Fox's fault. It is our's. After all Fox is a business and has continued to allow the same 3.5 million viewers (paltry in network world) the privilege of this intelligent, exceptional scripted show far longer than the numbers game should have allowed. We all make choices with what little time we have these days - especially in the only demographic that counts which boggles my mind - those 18 - 49ers who are simply too busy raising families, working to pay the bills or attending whatever event or child-centered Friday night delight to watch an original brand new Steven Spielberg offering let alone a simple TV show. No matter that those of us OVER the age of 49 have made our money and probably have more discretionary income to spend on most advertisers wares - but I'm on my weighted soap box again. I think even Fox was hoping that the final season of Fringe would garner more than the usual 3.5 million voters as I read the comments when they announced them. I think even Fox would have liked another year of this wonderfully odd cast and the many stories left to tell about them. But alas, for whatever reasons, we, the People, have spoken and Fringe will soon be no more. Some day, people who could have made a difference now WILL find and watch Fringe and wish they'd watched it when it mattered. So do I. So do I!
Overall, I still like the show because of the main characters but I miss the Fringe of the first three seasons.
Then we arrived at the fourth season, which made some relatively questionable calls in its story progression but still seemed to adhere to the original concept and meaning of what made Fringe, well, Fringe. But one thing was obvious: Joel Wyman controlled the story completely at that point, with the other showrunner (Pinkner) relocated to attempt to make sense of his direction. And Joel has one small problem: Too much imagination, with no effort put forth to filter any of it. He wasn't so much focused on centering the story on family, or even plot, but simply to make things as crazy and strange as possible. He would often introduce concepts and ideas out of thin air, then abandon them only to expand on ideas introduced a VERY long time ago literally out of thin air - sometimes with an obvious feeling of senselessness; just to make it look like he knows what he's doing, as if Pinkner called him out on it.
And that's precisely why the final season failed so hard; Pinkner was gone, and Wyman now could do whatever he wanted to. And as expected, Fringe was gone. Instead, what we got was a hacked up, diluted replica of V. Instead of familiar bonds, or Fringe cases, the biggest mystery of the series (the Observers) were revealed to be the most generic and boring variety of world invaders. And not only that, the sheer incompetence of this invasion of theirs made the whole scenario feel insanely tacked on. Far too many times, the heroes escaped out of the woods because of plain idiotic mistakes and oversights the Observers made. Funny, given that the Observers are able to perceive all of time simultaneously, travel through it, read minds, control minds, kill with their mind, are ten times stronger than humans, and have twice the intelligence of humans. No matter how you spin it, that's just s***ty and lazy writing - courtesy of J.H. Wyman.
But more frustratingly though are the concepts and ideas that has amazing potential scrapped in favor of this "cheap alien invasion fix". William Bell was completely abandoned after his very obvious cliffhanger departure at the end of Season 4. Sam Weiss gets killed off screen with barely a mention. Walternate was given only a single mention. And what about that ever enigmatic "Mr. X" (portrayed by Ulrich Thomsen) near the end of the third season? The only thing that was ever established with him was that he had some sort of connection to William Bell in the Season 4 finale, but that entire story was completely scrapped after putting forth the biggest budget in Season 3's animated episode, and of course the obvious connection in Season 4.
All of these concepts, ideas, and characters were scrapped in favor of: Freaking alien invasion, yet another time reset cop out of a plan, a hasty reason to bring back the Observer kid from Season 1, a completely nonsensical and weird "weird" episode (in stark contrast to the brilliant "Brown Betty" and "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide") that was obscure simply because they needed an obscure episode, and a whole lot of plain stupid and incompetent Observer occupiers. Oh, and right...the two best actors in the series (after John Noble of course) have been removed from the cast and relocated to meager guest appearances - Lance Reddick and Blair Brown.
This season killed Fringe for me, and certainly for a lot of other people (if the Fringe fansites are any indication). It threw away what made Fringe so special, and severely compromised its integrity and quality for a quick and easy finish. And they say Lost's final season was bad.