Written by Senora Bicho
The series finale of Lost would have left a large void in my television schedule were it not for Fringe. As the fall season gets underway it is the only show I am highly anticipating with lofty expectations. While I enjoyed the first season, the second season was outstanding and solidified their hold on me as a viewer.
The first season of Fringe followed FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), and his son Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) as they investigated cases involving strange phenomena and sought to uncover how the large global company, Massive Dynamic, fit into these events. We also learned about the existence of an alternate universe which Olivia is transported to in order to meet William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) the founder and chairman of Massive Dynamic.
Season Two is difficult to write about without giving too much away since there are big reveals throughout. It starts with Olivia being thrown from a car with no recollection of her visit to the alternate universe but with the knowledge that she must do something very important. As she tries to remember what happened, she is being hunted by a shape-shifting soldier sent by someone from the parallel reality seeking to silence her forever. Over the course of the season, the alternate universe is further explained and the team crosses over. Each of the main characters has a counterpart living in the other world and seeing how they differ creates an extra layer of intrigue. The strengthening relationship of Peter and Walter is another main storyline of the season along with the discovery of Peter's past that threatens to undo the bond that has formed between them. Peter and Olivia's romantic tension continues to tease viewers as well.
Like The X-Files, there are episodes that deal with the series' mythology and others with stories that standalone. That worked in the first season, but at this point the series is beginning to get so entrenched in its mythology with so much going on that to be able to catch an episode here or there and feel satisfied is hard to imagine. Character development, emotional connections, and relationships are more at the forefront which is what made the season so special. They have been able to find the perfect blend of science fiction and character-driven storytelling.
Along with all 22 episodes from the season, which are spread across four discs, there are many special features. Three episodes come with commentary tracks provided by the creative team, and "Peter" features John Noble and Blair Brown, moderated by TV Guide Magazine's Damian Holbrook. While the creative team commentaries are interesting, the "Peter" episode was my favorite of the season and it is wonderful to get more background, especially Nobel's thoughts since it centers on Walter's actions. "Beyond the Pattern: The Mythology of Fringe" is a comprehensive overview of the season that offers interviews of cast and crew providing additional insights. It is the perfect vehicle to prepare and excite viewers for the start of the new season. "Analyzing the Scene" provides in-depth details on the making of certain scenes from six key episodes. Also included is "Unearthed," a standalone unaired episode from season one that aired as a special during the break in season two. "In the Lab with John Noble and Prop Master Rob Smith" offers a tour of the lab set and a demonstration of some of the more notable props. There is also a gag reel and unaired scenes.
The 1080p/VC-1 encoded transfer delivers a solid picture at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Colors have rich hues and skintones are realistic and consistent. Black is prevalent in the color scheme of the series' production design, regularly appearing inky although there is minimal noise on occasion. Detail sharpness seems dictated by the source.
The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1. Dialogue is clear and balanced well with the effects and music. Together they demonstrate very good dynamics. There is very good ambiance including the rear speakers. Sounds move across the system and are positioned throughout the soundscape. The subwoofer delivers a solid contribution.
I was a huge fan of The X-Files but am an even bigger fan of Fringe as it has more heart and characters I have come to love and root for, most notably Walter. John Noble's portrayal of this quirky and flawed scientist is one of the best performances on television these days.
Season Three starts on September 23rd and after reviewing this Blu-ray collection, I am even more excited for it.