Fringe: The Complete First Season (2008) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Drama / Mystery / Science Fiction
Warner Brothers || NR - 1027 minutes - $79.98 || September 8, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-09-15


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): J.J. Abrams & Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci (created by)
Cast: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Lance Reddick, Kirk Acevedo, Blair Brown, Jasika Nicole, Mark Valley, John Noble


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Episode Commentaries
  • 7 Featurettes
  • 20 Vignettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • BD-Live


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH

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.::THE FILM::.

“Fringe”, a J.J. Abrams-afied version of “The X-Files” (mixed in with “Alias”), centers on FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) heading a unit of sorts to investigate strange and/or unusual cases with the help of Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), a man who went insane years earlier and is being held at a mental facility and could only be released by... his son, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson). Reluctantly, Peter agrees and soon enough they are working as a team and discover a vast conspiracy puzzle (known as “The Pattern”) they try to put together before something horrible may happen.

After a fantastic start in the pilot episode – especially the horror in the sky opening –, the series never quite finds its footing, though at the same time, yet still manages to keep the viewer interested from one freak/conspiracy of the week (to borrow a term from “Smallville”) to the next. This is thanks due in part to the stunning newish-comer Anna Torv. She has an instant charm to carry the show as the true supernatural believer opposite Jackson’s wise-cracking skeptic who grudgingly tries to reconnect with his scattershot genius father, a man that has a central part the possible conspiracy because of his experiments for the government.

Aside from Torv, Joshua Jackson fits the role as the part wise-ass genius son, part sci-fi comic relief fairly well, unfortunately after only a few episodes, it seems the writers weren’t quite sure what to do with him. Luckily, he does have an interesting story arc that will come as a cool shock for the season finale. I just hope he isn’t just going to be the skeptic adversary to his insanely genius father, but like I said, the finale certainly expands his arc more than I had envisioned only a couple episodes before.

Now, John Noble is the heart of the show. While the show centers on Anna Torv, who serves the audience’s eyes and ears, Noble balances comedy with drama so well and effortlessly. I like the fact the three main actors (Torv, Jackson and Noble) all have a connection with the overall story rather than just be conductors to unveil the story from episode to episode.

As with many J.J. Abrams creations, you will get more questions than answers, I’m happy to say it is nowhere near as frustrating as what has been done on “Lost” (a show I have given up on around season 3). Instead, it unfolds a fascinating season story arc with central characters you actually care about. It also helps that the majority of episodes have an incredible opening that, for sci-fi fans especially, will keep you tuned in.

All that said, as with many freshmen series – only a rare few kick off with a nearly perfect bang –, “Fringe” kind of plods along at times not entirely sure where it’s going. Now, it’s only because of the core actors and the overall story that gives me hope the show will find a more solid footing in the second season.

EPISODES:
01. Pilot
02. The Same Old Story
03. The Ghost Network
04. The Arrival
05. Power Hungry
06. The Cure
07. In Which We Meet Mr. Jones
08. The Equation
09. The Dreamscape
10. Safe
11. Bound
12. The No-Brainer
13. The Transformation
14. Ability
15. Inner Child
16. Unleashed
17. Bad Dreams
18. Midnight
19. The Road Not Taken
20. There’s More Than One of Everything



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Warner Brothers releases “Fringe” in a 5-disc HD keep case with a side-loading slip case.

There are three episode commentaries:
+ ‘Pilot’ with Creators J.J. Abrams, Alex Krutzman and Roberto Orci
+ ‘The Ghost Network’ with Co-Writers David H. Goodman and J.R. Orci and Executive Producer Bryan Burk
+ ‘Bad Dreams’ with Writer/Director Akiva Goldsman and Executive Producer Jeff Pinkner

Featurettes:
The Massive Undertaking (20:20; SD) are ‘behind-the-scenes’ featurettes for various episodes: ‘Pilot’ (12:11), ‘The Ghost Network’ (2:09), ‘The Transformation’ (2:43) and season finale ‘There’s More Than One of Everything’ (3:17). As you can see from the running times, they to vary...

Evolution: The Genesis of Fringe (9:07; SD) – The creators of the show discuss how “Fringe” unfolded and the qualities that make the series so unique. Members of the crew talk about what influenced the series including “The Twilight Zone” and The Fly plus the directing style of David Cronenberg before going into filming the series.

Behind the Real Science of Fringe (10:28; SD) – From teleportation to re-animation, “Fringe” incorporates recent discoveries in science and how much is possible. The crew talks about coming up with the stories that could have a basis in reality in some form or another.

The Casting of Fringe (9:21; SD) – The story, as told by producers and cast, of how Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble and others came to be cast in the series.

Roberto Orci’s Production Diary (13:06; SD) – Co-creator/Executive Producer Orci just telestrates parts of the plot intertwined with interviews with the cast and crew. This is basically like the other featurettes but a little looser.

Fringe Visual Effects (15:16; SD) examines the effects used throughout the season and how far the technology has come even on a TV series’ sized budget. The featurette takes us behind-the-scenes on how they were shot and then the effects applied in post.

Each episode comes with Deciphering the Scene (35:26; SD). These short featurettes (usually between 1-2 minutes) gives a behind-the-scene glimpse at how certain scenes were made. For instance, on the ‘Pilot’ episode, we get to see how the make-up and visual effects were done to actor Mark Valley. Others take a look at the focal event/scene for that episode.

Dissected Files (9:37; SD) come with five of the episodes and don’t offer very much at all and were cut for time consideration (since episodes were already longer than the average).

Fringe Pattern Analysis (25:18; HD) – Take a closer look at six select scenes from season one with experts who dissect each scene using notes, photos and diagrams. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

We also get Unusual Side Effects (4:32; SD), aka a gag reel; a mock featurette on casting Gene the Cow (2:46; SD).

And there is a BD-Live portal where you can check out an exclusive commentary with Writers Jeff Pinkner, J.H. Wyman, Akiva Goldsman and Bryan Burk on the season finale. Unfortunately, my player failed to connect (even though it has worked fine with other studio’s BD-Live functions) so I cannot properly evaluate the track. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

“Fringe” The Complete First Season is presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. The picture, in a word, is fantastic. It is clear, sharp and quite detailed without the use of DNR or Edge Enhancement. Having not seen the show as it aired, I cannot attest to how it compares but from my perspective this is a fine looking Blu-ray TV show.

As with all of Warner’s TV on Blu-ray releases, this only comes with a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Although the lossless TrueHD would’ve certainly been preferred, I was actually fairly impressed with this track. Dialogue levels could’ve been slightly better in some places but the audio effects sounds excellent right from the series opening scene to other action sequences as well as Michael Giacchino’s (“Lost”) creepy and mysterious score.



.::OVERALL::.

“Fringe” is a show with loads of potential even with a solid first season, warts and all. I can’t say I’m as deeply enthralled as others, but I will certainly keep up with season two (via DVR) and would recommend this Blu-ray release for some good features, great picture and, though not ideal, an acceptable audio track.