When The X-Files ended its nine-season stranglehold on the bizarre, it created a vacuum. In this void, hundreds of shows showed up and competed for the market on the strange, the odd, and the otherworldly, simply to recapture the glory days of X-Files. J.J. Abrams, fresh from Star Trek and Lost, decided that it was time to try to fill the emptiness once again. With this in mind, he created Fringe.
Fringe is a show that follows FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), a crazy scientist named Walter Bishop (John Noble), and his son, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson), who happens to be good at everything. The trio head around the country, finding paranormal and odd activities, and then attempt to solve them. Pretty straightforward, right?
Well, it is way too straightforward. Instead of a show like Lost, Abrams decided to make a show where you only need to see every third episode or so. This way, the audience has more freedom, and they can choose which shows they want to watch. While this seems beneficial, it actually harms the show. I really hate TV shows that have little in common between episodes, where you can jump in and out. These shows don't foster a feeling of connection or loyalty with the audience. Hopefully, in future seasons we'll be able to see better connected episodes.
Not all in Fringe is bad. I really do like the different cases, the complexity of the scenarios, and enjoy watching the characters interact, trying to solve the case, and simply trying to make sense of what is going on around them. Like other 'mystery' shows (House and Lost, to name two), Fringe makes sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. To me, this is the tell of a good episode, and something that I am happy to keep on watching.
Another thing that I like about Fringe is how the show looks. Using a massive budget, and plenty (lots) of special effects, Fringe lays on the gore. People melt in front of your eyes, stomachs are expelled, and blood is in almost every scene. I like how visceral the shows are, and, frankly, how gory it gets. This might just be the college male in me, but I really like how disgusting this show looks.
Speaking of the looks, Fringe: The Complete First Season is presented in stunning 1080p. With a smooth transfer onto the disc, Fringe makes sure to please the eyes. All of the colors are vibrant, the textures are smooth (or rough, depending on what the scene needs), and the contrasts are clear. The colors are so well done that the blood (hey look, that gore thing again) looks extremely realistic. The Blu-ray transfer of Fringe is stunning, simply stunning.
Unlike the visual quality of the release, the sound quality is seriously lacking. Mainly using the front speakers, Fringe kills the audiophile inside of me. By not utilizing a full range of my surround sound, and even not using the front speakers to their full capacity, Fringe emits a lackluster sound quality, oddly reminiscent of DVDs from the late '90s. The explosions are muffled, the creatures are silenced, and the dialog is drowned out. Frankly, I am surprised by this lack of quality, especially when you consider that Fringe was a highly anticipated release.
Although there are a few HD extras, most of the supplements that come with Fringe: The Complete First Season are only in SD. While this is somewhat disappointing, the quality and the expansiveness of the extras easily make up for it. My favorite extra is "Fringe Pattern Analysis," which, more or less, uses real scientists and experts to talk about specific scenes from the season. This supplement appeals to the scientist in me, and it is great to watch.
Other extras include:
- Audio Commentaries
- Deciphering the Scene
- Dissected Files
- The Massive Undertaking
- Spolierific Production Featurettes
- Robert Orci's Production Diary
- Unusal Side Effects
- Gene the Cow
Overall, I believe that Fringe is a series that has a chance to become a cultural phenomenon. The show has promise, but needs a bit of work before it can take off. Fringe: The Complete First Season, likewise, has some promise, but needs some work. The extras, episodes, and presentation are good, but need some work. Hopefully, with future season releases, they keep the video quality, but decide to actually use sound technology.
Series: A decent start to the concept, but needs improvement.
Blu-ray Quality: Stunning, just stunning.
Audio Quality: Utilizes technology from the late '90s, ruins the series.
Extras: Expansive and informative, but most are in SD.
Overall: A good release of the series.