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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Crime > Detective > Science Fiction > TV > Fringe – The Complete First Season (2009/Warner Blu-ray + DVD)

Fringe – The Complete First Season (2009/Warner Blu-ray + DVD)


Picture: B/B-     Sound: C     Extras: C-     Episodes: B



FOX has a history of rolling out great series (as long as they don’t cancel them) and JJ Abrams has a history of creating great shows; so together the duo for all intents and purposes had aces in hand from the start with Fringe.  Fringe is your weekly crime drama series covered in a not-so-thin coating of Sci-Fi greatness.  After creating Alias and LOST it is no shocker that JJ Abrams has more tricks up his sleeve; and Fringe is no exception.  The series from the beginning feels like a sleeker version of FOX’s own X-Files; as it quickly sets off on a mission of mystery, darkness and “do you believe” action.


The series centers on an investigative team known as the “Fringe Division;” which consists of a Homeland Security Director (played by Lance Riddick), a mad scientist type named Walter Bishop (John Noble), a resident hottie names Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and son of Walter, Peter Bishop (played by Joshua Jackson of Dawson’s Creek fame).  The premise of the series is that there are a host of mysterious events (i.e. - crazy experiments) occurring throughout the world that are aptly named “The Pattern.”  The Pattern sums up to be an immense societal experiment that involves things like monsters, disasters and viruses; all with a seemingly larger meaning, rather than merely being coincidental.  Walter Bishop was sprung from the Mental Institution due to his involvement with the aforementioned experiments and his son Peter is more or less his wrangler; while dealing with other “aspects” of the law.  The “larger plot” of Fringe is quickly revealed early on in the season as it is explicitly spells out that “The Pattern” is part of a larger terrorist plot to annihilate humanity through the use of technology.  Throughout the First Season JJ Abrams does a fine job of balancing the “procedural/political” aspect of the series with the wonderfully grotesque Sci-Fi edge that holds Fringe together; something that will have to be carefully monitored, because if either overtakes the other it could be the series downfall.


I greatly enjoyed Fringe’s First Season, but it is most definitely a series (like LOST) where if you miss an episode you can expect to quickly be out of the loop.  To some degree the series seems to still be getting its footing, but that is not unheard of for a brand new series; especially one as creative as Fringe.  I look forward to seeing what else this landmark FOX series has to offer, but I predict as of now it is a lot.


The technical features of this 5-Disc Blu-ray set are not the best (and far from bad), but the DVD release is a clear downgrade for this series.  The picture on the Blu-ray is presented in a 1.78 X 1 1080p/AVC-1 image (from Super 35mm film) that brings the “bang & pow” of a Hollywood blockbuster with great textures, fine detail, solid contrast and vibrant colors.  Even with a bit of edge enhancement the image is great throughout and makes me ask why all TV series don’t look this great.  The picture presentation truly establishes an atmosphere on Blu-ray, but the DVD falls a bit flat on color, contrast, and texture as the image seems too big of a downgrade from Blu-ray.  The audio on the Fringe Blu-ray is far from perfect as its Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track is a poor choice on Warner’s part; yes it should have been a TrueHD presentation at least!  The sound is just ‘blah’ to this reviewer as the depth is lost and the sound never ‘pops’ as it should; whereas I am bombarded with a wonderful image, the experience on crawls as the sound slows it down.  The DVD is at the same level of gruesome and Warner would be smart to upgrade the sound for Season Two.


The extras are mediocre at best and don’t give fans much to care about as they are the same old “series promos” that so many shows on DVD suffer from.  Extras include the following:


  1. Audio Commentaries – 3 in all that are not very exciting, save the Pilot’s commentary that Abrams hosts and gives great insight to his vision.
  2. Deciphering the Scene – basically give a 2-minute look into a particularly taxing part of each episode; too short to really tell anything and all in all annoying.
  3. Dissected Files – i.e. Deleted Scenes that neither add nor detract from the episodes
  4. Massive Undertaking
  5. Evolution: The Genesis of Fringe
  6. Behind the Real Science of Fringe
  7. Casting of Fringe
  8. Roberto Orci’s Production Diary
  9. Fringe Visual Effects
  10. Unusual Side Effects – boring Bloopers
  11. Gene the Cow – a look at an unusual cast member…who seemingly has multiple personalities


**HD Exclusive extras:


  1. Audio Commentary on the Season Finale
  2. Fringe Pattern Analysis Featurette – a poorly done extra that looks more at the science of the series


I highly recommend this series as it will have you hooked from the very first (massive) episode.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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