Fringe: Season 1 [Blu-ray]
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Fringe: The Complete First Season (Blu-Ray)
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.]]>
Teleportation, mind control, astral projection, invisibility, precognition, spontaneous combustion, reanimation: these are among the peripheral sciences--or "pseudo-sciences," as one skeptic puts it--examined during the first season of Fringe, a Fox network TV drama debuting on Blu-ray with the full first season (twenty episodes) offered on five extras-laden discs. The notion that those phenomena could have a genuine scientific basis is intriguing enough. But co-creator J.J. Abrams (whose bulging resume as a director, writer, and producer includes Lost, Alias, and the 2009 Star Trek feature film) has even more on his mind. Along with the weird science, the series features a multi-agency task force investigating related acts of terrorism that may very well add up to a threat of unimaginable global proportions; people who are exactly what they appear to be (i.e., insane) and others who are anything but; plot twists galore; family drama, interpersonal relationships, corporate evil, cop chases... There's a lot in play here, and while it doesn't always hold together (and like any new series, it takes a while to hit its stride), Fringe is rarely boring, and never less than impressively ambitious.
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 enquiring minds will have to hang in for the long, complicated run.
High-definition 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). Exclusively on Blu-ray are expert scene analysis and BD-Live writer-producer commentary. --Sam Graham
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Top customer reviews
John Noble's abilities to emote both verbally and nonverbally as Dr. Bishop, a former patient of an insane asylum, takes what could be a 3*-4* series to elevate it beyond what Amazon allows to grant. His work, along with great writing, is what makes this program fantastic. Season One addresses much of the background to the Fringe Division and Bishop's previous work and subsequent insanity. Winning Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2011 for the Critics Choice Awards, Noble's award was only one of many others. This is television viewing that a thinking person can sink their teeth into.
Fringe is addicting. Once past the first half dozen episodes or so, the viewer is locked.
Not a show for the squeamish and it definitely goes all-out for the ick factor at times. Watch the pilot episode and you'll get a really good glimpse of what you're in store for, although not every episode is that gory. But the show is entertaining, and the acting is above par for science fiction shows. Dialogue is witty, much like the beloved Firefly. Even my wife and daughter watch, which is very unusual for science fiction shows. And it's got Leonard Nimoy!
So I think what really keeps me coming back is a few characters who are very easy to like, and the attempt to wring every last ounce of excitement possible out of the world of science by throwing in some fun pseudo-science.