'Fringe: The Complete First Season'
(Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Lance Reddick, Kirk Acevedo, Blair Brown, et al / 7-Disc DVD / NR / 2009 / Warner Home Video)
Overview: 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.”
DVD Verdict: OK, sure the show suffered from internal problems, the main one being casting, but at least Fox did the smart thing and picked it up for a second season! I came to like Anna Torv in the lead role of Agent Olivia Dunham, but she remained in many ways the show's weak link. Many fans noted that her American accent (Torv is Australian) often faded and especially early in the show her Aussie accent would briefly creep in. She isn't a bad actress, but neither is she - comparing the show to THE X-FILES - Gillian Anderson, who was by any accounting a brilliant actress.
When I watch FRINGE, I often wonder just what the show would be like with a stronger actress in the lead role. I also have not yet become sold on Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop, but this may be far more of a problem with the writers fully integrating him into the show. (Though the season ends with a great, great twist involving Peter that explains a lot of the background on Walter's story.)
Other than being Walter's son, his role in the greater scheme of things hasn't really become clear, though perhaps the writers envision a more crucial role in Season Two. Lance Reddick is a powerful physical presence, but is another actor who has perhaps been under utilized at this point.
Which leaves John Noble as Walter Bishop. Is there a more delightful supporting character on TV? He steals just about every scene he is in as the delightfully idiosyncratic and marvelously insane genius Walter Bishop. Walter is both a wonderfully written character and brilliantly portrayed by Noble. Sci-fi series do not as a rule get much recognition by the Emmys, but I would love to see Noble get a nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama.
Many of the great moments of the show's first season revolve around Walter. And there are so many fine Walter moments that some go unnoticed. Among my favorites was in the show's penultimate episode where the crew is assembled in Walter's Harvard lab and someone says they need to turn the lights out. Walter gleefully tells them all to hold on and he claps his hands, demonstrating that he has "the Clapper" installed in the lab. But what makes the scene so funny is a very subtle bit of business.
Walter has been passing out cookies and has one of his own. To be able to clap, he has set his own cookie down on the derrière of the corpse he has been examining and that is laying immediately in front of him. So while Walter is clapping his cookie is on this dead guy's rear end. Typical Walter. Not least because of Walter's penchant for blending the investigation of the most grotesque phenomena with food. Icky disfigured corpse? Nothing like that to get Walter to think about food!
The best thing about FRINGE is that it got better as it went along. This is a great sign for Season Two. I blame FOX for the slow first half of the season. Maybe I'm wrong in doing that, but we know for a fact that FOX messed up the first half of DOLLHOUSE, and they've been known to interfere with the development of other shows. The fact is this: executive producers and their writers know more about how to do a great show than network executives do.
Maybe they feel that they need to earn their salaries by "crafting" the new series, but generally what they do is mess things up. You hire someone like J. J. Abrams or Joss Whedon to do a series, just get out of the way and let them do what they inevitably do better than you do! [RM] This is a Widescreen presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
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
'FRINGE' fans can now enter for a chance to win a trip to the set of 'Fringe' at www.CompleteThePattern.com
The grand prize winner will win a trip to Vancouver, BC. The first prize winner will get a hi-def home entertainment system and five second prize winners will receive a copy of the Complete First Season on DVD.
The Complete First Season of 'Fringe' is out September 8th!