Fringe: The Complete First Season
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Fringe: The Complete First Season (DVD)
Teleportation, mind control, astral projection, invisibility, precognition, spontaneous combustion, reanimation: these are among the peripheral sciences--or "pseudo-sciences," as one skeptic puts it--examined during the first season of Fringe, a Fox network TV drama debuting on DVD with the full first season (twenty episodes) offered on seven extras-laden discs. The notion that those phenomena could have a genuine scientific basis is intriguing enough. But co-creator J.J. Abrams (whose bulging resume as a director, writer, and producer includes Lost, Alias, and the 2009 Star Trek feature film) has even more on his mind. Along with the weird science, the series features a multi-agency task force investigating related acts of terrorism that may very well add up to a threat of unimaginable global proportions; people who are exactly what they appear to be (i.e., insane) and others who are anything but; plot twists galore; family drama, interpersonal relationships, corporate evil, cop chases... There's a lot in play here, and while it doesn't always hold together (and like any new series, it takes a while to hit its stride), Fringe is rarely boring, and never less than impressively ambitious.
The pilot introduces us to the main characters, principally FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv, good but not great in the show's central role) and others on the task force brought in to investigate some gross goings-on aboard a jumbo jet (a "self-eradicating, airborne toxin" reduced everyone to blood and bones). Seems this is but one part of "The Pattern," a series of synchronous, similarly shocking events that unfold as the show progresses; in subsequent episodes, lots of people are killed in graphic fashion by all manner of horrors, including scary monsters (slugs as big as a football, teethed parasites that can crush your heart), a gas that freezes a busload of passengers "like insects trapped in amber," people so radioactive they can literally make your brain boil… it goes on. Helping Dunham and the rest of the force figure it all out are scientist Dr. Walter Bishop (an appealing John Noble), who's spent the past 17 years locked up in the loony bin and whose research may be responsible for some of the crimes we witness, and his son-babysitter Peter (Joshua Jackson). As for the "fringe" element, Dr. Bishop and other, less benign geniuses jump-start a dead man's brain, photograph another victim's cornea in order to access the last thing she saw before death, connect Dunham to her boyfriend so she can experience his memories of the incident that left him comatose, use high-frequency vibrations to enable bank robbers to pass through a solid vault wall, and much, much more. As for where and how all of this ends up, let's just that enquiring minds will have to hang in for the long, complicated run.
Bonus features are many and varied; among the best are "Deciphering the Scene" (brief explications of key scenes in every episode) and "The Massive Undertaking" (detailing how certain special effects sequences were pulled off). --Sam GrahamSee all Product Description
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Anyway, many compare it to the X-Files. While I can see the link (both deal with FBI agents investigating the inexplicable), there are many key differences in what the shows talk about. X-Files revolves primarily around aliens and UFOs (not only that, but primarily), Fringe is about fringe science (telekinesis, parallel universes, telepathy, etc.) and there's a very deep plot line extending throughout all seasons.
While season 1 has more of a "Something happens. We investigate and solve the mystery. Case closed" feel to it, the further you progress in the season (and the seasons after that), the more the plot line of the series is continuous and link the episodes/seasons together... making it hard to talk about without giving any spoilers. So why not give it a try?
The series is well worth a look for those who love many different genres of TV- it melds perfectly the intrigue and mystery of sci-fi, the quirks and twists of interpersonal relationships, the drama of a medical series, and the inventiveness which has made such series as Star Trek so dearly beloved. Fringe has something for almost all tastes, and this beautifully packaged set stands alone as a great gift for others or oneself.
Raises the bar for all other tv series, long may it continue. 'Fantastic!' (Walter Bishop)
This disc set includes a fair bit of extra content, behind the scenes for every episode, breakdown of practical & special effects, as well as audio commentaries. Only knock against it is the user interface on the top menu. The episodes aren't directly selectable, only the bonus content. No scene selection either, so you have to jump chapters during playback.
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