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Blu-ray Reviews

Fringe: The Complete Fifth and Final Season Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

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Posted May 08 2013 - 11:06 PM

Fringe: The Complete Fifth and Final Season Blu-ray Review

The ultimate season of Fox’s compelling science-fiction drama made a significant departure in terms of story, but stayed true to its emotional core, providing a fitting a wrap-up for the show. The Blu-ray release is another fine product courtesy of Warner Brothers Home Video, and one fans shouldn’t hesitate to pick up come release day.


Cover Art


Studio: Warner Brothers

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 9 Hr. 24 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, UltraViolet

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 05/07/2013

MSRP: $49.99




The Production Rating: 4.5/5

In Fringe’s fourth season episode “Letters of Transit,” the writers for Fox’s mind warping sci-fi series took us to the future, revealing a world no one in the show’s four-year run saw coming. In the year 2015, the Observers, beings we had assumed were benign examiners of human history, finally intervened on a massive scale. Having destroyed the Earth in their future time period, they decided to lay claim to the past, handily taking control of the planet and instituting a global, totalitarian regime, overseen by the Observer Captain Windmark (Michael Kopsa).

Set 20 years after the takeover, “Letters of Transit” showed us a world in which people are governed by fear; the original members of Fringe Division have gone missing; and the agency itself is now an instrument of oppression and martial law. However a resistance movement is also at work, trying to find a way to rid the planet of its grey suited overlords.

For Fringe agent (and resistance mole) Etta Bishop (Georgina Haig), the grown daughter of Peter and Olivia (Joshua Jackson and Anna Torv), that means finding the missing Fringe team – most critically her grandfather Walter (John Noble), but also her parents, whom she hasn’t seen since she was a child. Aided by her colleague Simon (Henry Ian Cusick), they manage to find and free Walter, Peter and Astrid (Jasika Nicole), who encased themselves in amber to avoid capture, but Walter’s mind and memory have not done well after two decades in suspended animation. Olivia also remains unaccounted for, making the Bishop family reunion bittersweet, and the future all the more uncertain.

Though existing as a sort of “what if” episode in the context of the fourth season, when the series was renewed for a fifth, “Letters of Transit” effectively became the prologue to the show’s 13-episode, final run. Though some viewers were thrown for a loop by the Observers now being villains, the mythology behind the characters had never been fully established, with their primary representative, September (Michael Cerveris), being especially unique in his attitude towards humanity. At the start of the fifth season, we find out to what extent September was different from his cohorts, his anomalous behaviour giving the writers a way to provide a twist to the Observer mythos, without going so far as a retcon.

Though the major plotline in the final season is the Fringe team’s search for a solution against the Observers, consisting of a trail of clues Walter left behind prior to being ambered, the scenario also affords some satisfying closure for each of the core characters. Peter in particular has the most dramatic arc as he comes to terms with a devastating personal loss as well as his own metaphysically ambiguous pedigree. Not surprisingly, his emotional journey mirrors his father’s, closing a loop in the show’s mythology that dates back to the first season. Walter also faces some critical choices of his own; though his actions in the finale prove largely predictable, that makes them no less fitting for this most eccentric but beloved of characters. By comparison, Olivia seems to play more of a supporting role to the father-son themes that dominate the season, though after the Olivia-centric events of Season Four, there wasn’t much needed in terms of wrap-up for the character.

In the end, Fringe’s fifth season proved hugely entertaining, dramatically complex and emotionally satisfying, a worthy final chapter to one of the best science fiction TV programs created.

Fringe: The Complete Fifth and Final Season on Blu-ray includes all 13 episodes that aired in 2012 and 2013. The episodes are spread across three Blu-ray discs in the following arrangement:

Disc One: Episodes 1-5
  • Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11
  • In Absentia
  • The Recordist
  • The Bullet that Saved the World
  • An Origin Story
Disc Two: Episodes 6-10
  • Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There
  • Five Twenty-Ten
  • The Human Kind
  • Black Blotter
  • Anomaly XB-6783746
Disc Three: Episodes 11-13
  • The Boy Must Live
  • Liberty
  • An Enemy of Fate



Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

Correctly framed at 1.78:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the series episodes feature deep, inky black levels and impressive color depth, though the palette tends to be on the drab side given the Observers’ disinterest in things of beauty. Contrast looks a tad crushed at the bottom end, but it lends the images a starkness that suits the season’s dystopian tone. Fine object detail in fabrics, and skin textures in particular, are excellent; however, scenes in higher contrast environments reveal slight edge haloing. Grain structure is often visible, as is a touch of noise at times, though there's no signs of excessive digital processing.



Audio Rating: 4/5

Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently crisp, clear and intelligible. Support for the score in the surround channels is balanced and seamless, as are the sometimes aggressive atmospheric and directional effects. LFE doesn't go especially deep, but the track has consistent depth and fullness, particularly with the instrumental cues.



Special Features Rating: 3.5/5

Though not sporting the most jam-packed collection of extras, the release does include a decent feature on the series finale, a commentary track on a critical episode and a few other items worthy of perusal.

Commentary with Executive Producer J.H. Wyman and Editor Jon Dudkowski on “Black Blotter” (Episode 9): On Disc 2.

A Farewell to Fringe (21:06, HD): The cast and crew reflect on the beginning and ending of the show. On Disc 3.

Deleted Scenes: Includes “Walter’s Brain” (:48, HD) on Disc 1 and “Observer in the Closet” (:58, HD) on Disc 3.

An Enemy of Fate” Digital Script: The full script for the series finale episode. On Disc 3.

2012 Comic-Con Panel (29:00, HD): On Disc 3.

Gag Reel (2:12, HD): On Disc 3.

Ultraviolet Digital Copy: Redeem by May 7, 2015.



Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Warner Home Video delivers an excellent high definition presentation for the fifth and final season of Fox’s phenomenal science-fiction drama Fringe. Though the bonus material doesn’t include the most comprehensive collection of material, that shouldn’t stop fans from picking up the release to complete their collections.


Reviewed By: Cameron Yee


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