Fringe brought a new spin on the bizarre, creepy and downright weird to the boob tube last year, thanks to J.J. Abrams and his cadre of writers and co-creators. The show centers on a team of FBI agents, a mad scientist and his brilliant son with a shadowy past. They investigate what can only be described as the paranormal or “fringe” elements of science.
If all this sounds rather familiar, then yes, it is. There are definitely echoes of X-Files and The Twilight Zone present (and maybe a hint of Lost here and there). For one, you’ve got Olivia Dunham, the central FBI agent who gets assigned as the point person of a new division delving into crimes of peculiar origin. Second, there’s something called The Pattern, an unknown entity or plan that is woven throughout many of the events that transpire during season one. Beyond that, we encounter cases of human bodies liquefying, spontaneously combusting, transposing through solid objects, teleportation, post mortem retinal scans and mind reading…and those are just six or seven of the season’s 20 episodes.
So what sets this series apart from its predecessors? For starters, the cast is phenomenal. Anna Torv is strong and well-cast as Dunham, but her supporters (Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Lance Reddick, Blair Brown, and Kirk Acevedo) are fantastic. I particularly love the interactions between Noble and Jackson as father-son duo Walter and Peter Bishop. As the season progresses, so does their chemistry and it’s a blast to watch the two interact.
Additionally, while the storylines aren’t necessarily revolutionary, the focus on the blurring edges of science fact and fiction is somewhat unique. While the wizard behind the curtain in X-Files was extraterrestrial life, the one pulling the strings (at least thus far in the series) is decidedly more down-to-earth. The dangerous elements in Fringe are those humans who have deeper insights into how the world really works, exploiting their scientific knowledge to wreak havoc on society. It lends the more bizarre cases a certain amount of gravitas and also makes the overall arc of the series much more diabolical. The threat to our lives is not external or otherworldly, but rather we ourselves, our neighbors around us.
Absolutely terrific. The clarity and detail present on the screen is downright beautiful. I watched this series while it was on-air and difference between standard broadcast definition and this Blu-Ray set is stunning. The smallest details stand out, which is perfect for a show like this that drops little clues through each episode. The sound is also top-notch, with a good mix throughout.
Tons of bonus features. Thanks to the good people at Amazon, here’s exhaustive list:
Evolution: The Genesis of Fringe featurette - The creators of the show discuss how the series unfolded and the qualities that make it so unique
Behind the Real Science of Fringe featurette - From teleportation to re-animation, Fringe incorporates recent discoveries in science. Consulting experts and scientists who are the authorities in their field address the areas of science which are the inspiration for the show.
A Massive Undertaking: The Making of Fringe (on select episodes) - An in-depth exploration of how select episodes came to be made: from the frozen far reaches of shooting the pilot in Toronto, to the weekly challenges of bringing episodes to air
The Casting of Fringe- 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.
Fringe Visual Effects featurette - Goes deep into the creation of the shared dream state with some of the biggest VFX shots of the show.
Dissected Files: Unaired Scenes
Unusual Side Effects: Gag Reel
Fringe: Deciphering the Scene
Roberto Orci Production Diary
Gene the Cow montage
Three Full-Length Commentaries from writers/producers, including J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtman, J.R. Orci, David Goodman, Bryan Burk, Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner
"Pattern Analysis" – featuring expert commentary on selected scenes
BD-Live enabled with exclusive commentary by JJ Abrams
In short, there’s a lot here. And this is, in my humble opinion, one of the best new shows on TV. Given the amount of crap that gets the green light each year, this is a welcome change. If you enjoy the paranormal and the mysterious, you need to check out Fringe. And do it soon, as season two starts soon and season one ended with quite a story-changer. It’s time to hop onboard before the whole thing gets spoiled for you.