Back Comments (2) Share:
Facebook Button
This review may contain spoilers regarding the first season of Fringe.

Series
Fringe revolves around a Homeland Security team that investigates a series of unexplained occurrences that are taking place all over the world in what is secretly being referred to as "The Pattern". The team that Homeland Security agent Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick) has put together consists of no nonsense F.B.I. agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), a former government researcher who has spent the past 17-years in a mental institution and has a connection to many of the events included in "The Pattern", and Walter's son Peter (Joshua Jackson), who is brought in as his father's guardian but who also aids in investigations thanks to an IQ running somewhere "50-points north of the genius level" and contacts made during his shadowy, misspent youth.

Fringe - The Complete Second Season
At the end of the first season Olivia finally came face to face with the often discussed but never seen patriarch of mega corporation Massive Dynamic and former partner of Walter's William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) atop the World Trade center, establishing in the series that there is indeed an alternate universe and all of the strange experiments going on having something to do with it. The second season starts up almost immediately after this meeting with Olivia being literally thrown back over to our universe in a mysterious car accident, and the bulk of the series' story lines in this second season revolve around this alternate universe.

Unlike other genre shows on television, Fringe doesn't shy away from giving its audience answers, and judging by this second season one comes away from it with the feeling that the creative folks behind it have a definite story to tell in mind. There's a clear and concise narrative here that was missing from the first season when the series was finding its legs and the foundation for the series was being formed.

This second series also doesn't stray far from the formula of the first season by having a number of episodes devoted to a 'monster-of-the-week' and while some of these episodes--such as "Night of Desirable Objects" and "Johari Window"--are excellent, they aren't as engaging as those that are key to the show's overall story arc. If I have one complaint about this series it's that these episodes tend to kill the main story's momentum, especially near the beginning of the season just after we'd been given some answers at the end of the first season. I found myself thinking many times that I wished the show would just get on with the main story already and stop wasting my time with diversions such as a town full of deformed people or a cargo ship full of parasitic worm infested sailors.

But when the show's main story arc does kick into high gear about one third of the way through the season it's a fine ride, making this second series a step up from the excellent first season. Fringe's ensemble cast is once again anchored by John Noble's performance as Walter Bishop (I'm still not sure how he has now gone two-years without being nominated for an Emmy Award) and a fine lineup of guest stars including Peter Weller, whose performance in the episode "White Tulip" is simply heartbreaking, and Kevin Corrigan who provides Olivia with plenty of Yodaesque musings in several episodes. The special effects and camerawork employed on the series continue to be some of the best on television, giving the series a very cinematic quality.

Fringe - The Complete Second Season
Video
All 22 episodes of Fringe's second season arrive on Blu-ray with VC-1 encoded 1080p transfers. I was a little put off by the fact that Warner Home Video cut the number of discs for this season from the first season's five to four, but the transfers for each episode are very good and result in better than broadcast presentations. The color pallet of the series runs the full gamut as just as many scenes take place in bright daylight as they do in the darkness of night. When the bright colors of Walter's lab appear on screen they pop, and black levels are excellent and consistent with a bit of digital noise every so often, but grain is barely noticeable. The source material used is unsurprisingly near perfect given the fact that this is a new series with no screen artifacts to be found. A slickly produced series with very good effects work, Fringe looks like a show were a lot of its production budget has been spent on both digital and practical visual goods.

Audio
There's some good news and some bad news with the audio. Bad news first--just like the first season of Fringe the only audio option for each episode in the set is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track--there is no lossless audio track here to be found. The good news is that you're likely not to care one bit. Each episode's track is as good as any found on the DVD for a major motion picture with ample use of the surround channels throughout each episode and clear dialogue from the center channel. I found the sound design of the series impressive and quite surprising as it is a much more aggressive sound mix than I'm accustomed to hearing while watching a television series and the series' musical score is excellent.

Fringe - The Complete Second Season
Extras
Warner Home Video once again has provided plenty of extras for this second season release. Included are commentary tracks for four of the episodes in the package, the best of which is for the equally excellent episode "Brown Betty" which features composer Chris Tilton, co-music supervisor Billy Gottlieb, producer Tanya Swerling and special effects supervisor Jay Worth discussing what is most assuredly the season's most outlandish and whimsical episode.

Next up are a series of six, short featurettes entitled "Analyzing the Scene", which detail the production of certain episodes of the series. These can be found on the episodes "A New Day in the Old Town", "Momentum Deferred", "Of Human Action", "What Lies Below", "Brown Betty" and "Over There, Part 2". These featurettes are very similar to featurettes for certain episodes found on the season one set.

The featurette "Beyond the Pattern - The Mythology of Fringe" is a fairly decent documentary on the second season, and another short, "In the Lab", is an odd but strangely fascinating trip around Walter's lab. The rest of the features are rounded out by a small series of deleted scenes and a gag reel. The set is BD-Live enabled, but unlike the first series which saw an exclusive commentary track via BD-Live there was nothing Fringe specific when I tested out this feature.

Saving the best for last, Warner Home Video has also included a season one episode that went unaired until midway through the second season. Entitled "Unearthed", this episode involving a body hopping revenge seeker was produced during the first season but never aired for one reason or another and can be found on disc four of the set.

Fringe - The Complete Second Season
Overall
I tend to stick to films and don't really watch much television during the week outside of the odd sporting event. That's not to say that I don't watch television programs, but I'd rather just wait until any certain program that I'm interested in is available on DVD or Netflix before I'll watch it. So when I tell you that I go out of may way not to miss Fringe when it airs on Thursday evenings it's meant as a pretty big compliment. This is a show that any genre fan should be watching and supporting. Warner Home Video's second season Blu-ray release of the series is again excellent and I'm already looking forward to the third season's release this time next year.

*Note: The images on this page were provided by Warner Home Video and are not representative of the Blu-ray release.


Links: