When you hear that J.J. Abrams has created yet another show, you can’t help but get your hopes up. Will it be the next “Alias” or “Lost”, or will it be something new and different, something unexpected and interesting? While “Fringe” isn’t “Alias” and it’s certainly not “Lost”, it does manage to bring something unexpected and interesting to television. While it’s easy to make a comparison between “Fringe” and another Fox favorite, “The X-Files”, it’s also important to remember that despite their similarities there’s a lot of originality going for “Fringe”. One of the most interesting things “Fringe” has to offer - beyond having a group of creators and writers that seem genuinely fascinated by all things unexplained - is it’s ability to explore the unusual side to science without feeling too much like a weighed-down science fiction series.
“Fringe” opens on a plane. “Lost” fans take note that the similarities end here, with the exception of music cues before a commercial break. The plane is experiencing turbulence during an electrical storm and one of the passengers reaches for his medicine kit and injects himself with his medication. As quickly as he does this, some sort of mutation aboard the flight overwhelms the entire flight. After the plane lands itself via auto-pilot, the FBI show up to find that there are stains on the window, but no one alive on board. When they go on board, there are skeletons covered in some sort of sticky manner.
Part of the team that arrives to survey the situation is Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Tory) and her partner John Scott (Mark Valley). Olivia is instantly met with resistance by Special Agent in charge, Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick) who takes issue with her for putting his friend in jail. Broyles sends Olivia off to follow up on what she feels is in an unnecessary lead with John, who she happens to have a secret relationship with. What happens next is a sequence of events that causes John Scott to incur similar flesh infection as the passengers on the plane.
Olivia takes it upon herself to research the unusual infection in the FBI database where she uncovers a link to a study done by Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble). The only issues is, Dr. Bishop has been in a mental facility for seventeen years. The only people allowed by the institution to see Dr. Bishop are family, which leads Olivia to find his only relative, a son, to help her have a few minutes of Dr. Bishop’s time. Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) is a high school drop out with an above-genius IQ who goes from job to job while falsifying papers if need be - and there’s the fact that he and his dad don’t seem to get along. Before being locked away for being mentally unfit after an accident in his lab, Dr. Bishop was given resources to work on a classified experiment in any way he wanted, which he focused on an area called Fringe Science (mind control, teleportation, invisibility, reanimation, genetic mutation, etc). You can imagine the opportunities this provides for a series.
The “Pilot” episode creates a jumping off point for the series when Agent Broyles informs Olivia of several similarly unusual, and confidential cases recently taking place. Agent Broyles asks Olivia to work for him on these unusual cases he refers to as “the pattern” where “someone out there is experimenting, only the whole worlds is the lab”. “Fringe” is an incredibly captivating series with a terrific cast that bring a certain level of believability and likeability that a series like this needs to be successful. Noble is absolutely perfect as Dr. Bishop, giving a memorable performance with each episode, and Tory and Jackson provide wonderful performances as an unlikely team alongside Dr. Bishop.
Yes, this show is certainly about scientific phenomenon which makes “Fringe” fascinating, but it’s the characters who must come together to uncover these unusual occurrences and find out who/what is causing them that makes “Fringe” something you want to return to each week. The season finale certainly leaves you with some questions and hopeful for another season as enjoyable as this one.
1. 1- 1 9 Sep 08 Pilot
2. 1- 2 16 Sep 08 The Same Old Story
3. 1- 3 23 Sep 08 The Ghost Network
4. 1- 4 30 Sep 08 The Arrival
5. 1- 5 14 Oct 08 Power Hungry
6. 1- 6 21 Oct 08 The Cure
7. 1- 7 11 Nov 08 In Which We Meet Mr. Jones
8. 1- 8 18 Nov 08 The Equation
9. 1- 9 25 Nov 08 The Dreamscape
10. 1-10 2 Dec 08 Safe
11. 1-11 20 Jan 09 Bound
12. 1-12 27 Jan 09 The No-Brainer
13. 1-13 3 Feb 09 The Transformation
14. 1-14 10 Feb 09 Ability
15. 1-15 7 Apr 09 Inner Child
16. 1-16 14 Apr 09 Unleashed
17. 1-17 21 Apr 09 Bad Dreams
18. 1-18 28 Apr 09 Midnight
19. 1-19 5 May 09 The Road Not Taken
20. 1-20 12 May 09 There's More Than One of Everything
VIDEO: Warner Brothers presents "Fringe" in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a slick, sleek presentation of the series that will likely please fans. Sharpness and detail are quite good, and the picture remains crisp and detailed during the majority of scenes. While a few touches of edge enhancement are seen (and a tad of intentional grain is visible at times), the presentation otherwise looked crisp and clean. Colors look spot-on, with excellent saturation and no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: Warner Brothers presents the series in Dolby Digital 5.1. The show's audio is quite enjoyable, with surrounds kicking in on a number of occasions to deliver eerie sound effects, ambience and other subtle details. Audio quality is fine, with clear dialogue and well-recorded effects.
EXTRAS: Several commentaries are offered on Season One “Fringe” DVD. Including a commentary with Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and J.J. Abrams on the “Pilot” episode. “The Ghost Network” with commentary by Co-Writers David H. Goodman, J.R. Orci and Executive Producer Bryan Burk. “Bad Dreams” has commentary by Writer/Director Akiva Goldsman and Executive Producer Jeff Pinkner.
“The Massive Undertaking” - Interviews with those involved in making “Fringe” discuss certain episodes and the amount of work and creativity put into developing and filming each one. “The Massive Undertaking” for the “Pilot” episode is especially interesting with a look at the special effects as well as the makeup art used to create the skin effects necessary for this episode to work as well as it does. With discussion about making the plane scene, working in weather elements and the stunts involved, this is definitely worth a watch. “The Massive Undertaking” is also available for “The Ghost Network”, “The Transformation”, and “There’s More Than One of Everything” with similar looks into difficult scenes/effects and how they’re accomplished.
A nice touch to the “Fringe” DVD is “Fringe: Deciphering the Scene” where there are brief looks at a certain aspect of each episode, including how make-up effects, special effects and choreographing scenes in a given each episode are achieved.
"Robert Orci’s Production Diary" is included here and at around twelve minutes it offers a nice behind-the-scenes look at the process that goes into creating one episode. With a look at scheduling scene production, working in freezing weather conditions, the efforts made to achieve scenes that are filmed like a feature rather than television show, and editing, this is a great look at the overall steps it takes to film hours of footage and create an hour (two hour “Pilot”) show. There’s footage from the film and behind-the-scenes footage of scenes being made and on-site interviews with those involved.
“Evolution: The Genesis of Fringe” The DVD warns of spoiler alerts with this brief feature, so be sure and watch all episodes if you don’t want the viewing experienced ruined in any way. This feature is exactly what the title implies, it is about the way “Fringe” came to be. J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and others talk about the things that influenced them to write “Fringe” as well as the original idea about Dr. Walter Bishop’s character and his experiments. They also discuss wanting to have elements of reality within the science fiction genre. They go on to discuss the series and what the Fringe means to the characters, as well as the importance of infusing the series with a secret that surrounds the series and keeps it moving forward.
“The Casting of Fringe” also includes a spoiler alert. Casting Director, April Webster talks about the process of casting and how she works with the creators/writers/directors to find the best possible actor to play each part according to how they were written and envisioned. J.J. Abrams and Alex Kurtzman also offer their take on the casting process. This is a nice feature that takes a deeper look into the casting process and how and why each actor was chosen to play their roles.
“Behind the Real Science of Fringe” includes spoiler alerts. An interesting look at the scientific knowledge the science advisors bring to the show as well as how some stuff seen in the series is based around an element of reality.
“Fringe Visual Effects”: an in-depth and interesting fifteen minute look at the visual effects used in “Fringe”.
Also included on the DVD are: “Dissected Files” (Deleted Scenes), “Gene the Cow”, “Unusual Side Effects” (Gag Reel)
Final Thoughts: While it may not have gotten the same level of attention that "Lost" has received, "Fringe" still certainly made a strong impression in its first season and is worth looking into. The DVD set provides solid audio/video quality, as well as a fine set of supplemental features. Recommended.