TV on DVD 9/8/09 – Fringe Science, Wiseguys, Serial Killers and Lies

Fringe: Season One (Warner) – From producer J.J. Abrams and co-creators and producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci comes this stylish trip into fringe science with X-Files trippiness but decidedly earthbound conspiratorial overtones. Anna Torv is the serious, straight-laced agent put in charge of a special unit dedicated to cases that defy rational explanation and conventional science, sort of a CSI team that Fox Muldar would have loved. Joshua Jackson is the happy-go-lucky rebel genius to her crisply dedicated agent, an international hustler pulled out of his underworld shenanigans to babysit his estranged father and the team’s star player: brilliant scientist Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), who is pulled out of the high security psychiatric facility where he’s lived in isolation for 17 years. This is a show where freaky things happen on a weekly basis (Astral projection! Teleportation! Interdimensional travel! Humans transformed into hideous mutant creatures!), but the dark style and grave tone of the show is mellowed by Noble’s deft and playful as the eccentric Walter, whose already shaky social skills have long ago evaporated into the ether (“It’s like listening to a broken record but the lyrics keep changing,” describes his sardonic son). It’s one of the most expensive and visually impressive shows on TV, with wildly fantastic cases and a complex history that, like The X-Files, wraps all of the characters up in its web. Watch for the long-anticipated appearance of William Bell, the mystery man at the center of the web, in the season finale: you’ll love it when he finally reveals his face.

The Fringe  Squad
The Fringe Squad

There are 20 episodes on seven discs (five discs on Blu-ray) with a nicely produced set of supplements. “Robert Orci’s Production Diary” is a tour through the shooting of the pilot episode and its lavish 31-day shoot, “Fringe Visual Effects” gives a sense of the scope of the show’s special effects by looking into a few key creations from select episodes and “Evolution: The Genesis of Fringe” charts the development of the show (it’s nice to hear Abrams describe how he drew inspiration from David Cronenberg’s films) . Also features commentary on three episodes (including the feature-length pilot) by the writers and producers, more featurettes and deleted scenes. Exclusive to the Blu-ray is “Fringe Pattern Analysis,” with comments on six select scenes by experts on the science and the theoretical ideas behind the applications in the show, and commentary by the writers on the season finale.
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