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HTF DVD Review: Fringe The Complete First Season (1 Viewer)

Todd Erwin

Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
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Apr 16, 2008
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Todd Erwin
[COLOR= #17365d]Fringe: The Complete First Season[/COLOR]

· Studio: Warner Home Video
· Broadcast Year: 2008-2009
· US DVD Release Date: September 8, 2009
· Rated: TV-14
· Running Time: 1028 minutes
· Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
· Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
· Subtitles: English (SDH), Spanish, French, Portuguese, Thai


[COLOR= #17365d]Movie: 4 out of 5[/COLOR]
When an airplane from Frankfurt lands with its passengers and crew mysteriously dead at Logan International Airport in Boston, the Department of Homeland Security assigns FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) to investigate. When her partner (both professionally and romantically) is infected with the same pathogen as the airline passengers, she enlists the aid of mad scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble) to find a cure. Unfortunately, Dr. Bishop has been in a mental institution for the last 17 years, and Agent Dunham must convince his estranged son, Peter (Joshua Jackson), to be his guardian. This sets up the Fringe team, focusing on investigating strange events that are linked with The Pattern.

Like many of J.J. Abrams’ series, Fringe is, at times, implausible, which is half the fun of watching each week. The team investigates such phenomena as rapid aging, parasites, psychosomatic hallucinations, teleportation, genetic mutations, pyroteknesis, and alternate realities, just to name a few. The real treat for me, though, was John Noble’s performance as mad scientist Walter Bishop, a cross between Dr. Frankenstein and Albert Einstein, who has experimented in the past a few too many times with mind-altering hallucinogens. He gets some of the best lines in the show, many of them completely inappropriate and out of context with what is going on in the scene. He also has some running gags, such as his weekly food cravings and his inability to remember the name of his lab assistant.

All 20 episodes from season one are presented here in their original broadcast length, and the series’ writers have embedded clues and games throughout each episode, making repeat viewing almost a necessity.

[COLOR= #17365d]Video: 3 out of 5[/COLOR]
All 20 episodes are presented in their original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Unlike most hour-long dramas currently on television, the average length of an episode of Fringe runs 50 minutes. Thankfully, Warner has spread the twenty episodes over seven discs, three episodes per disc, allowing for some breathing room. Black levels are inky, colors well-saturated, and flesh tones accurate (where appropriate). Overall, compression artifacts and noise are visible, but kept to a minimum and for the most part are not too distracting. Episode 6, The Cure, is a notable exception, with an over abundance of compression artifacts in a few shots during the opening scene in the diner.

[COLOR= #002060]Audio: 3 out of 5[/COLOR]
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track provided has been encoded at 384 kbps, the same bitrate used by most FOX network affiliates when broadcasting this series. Although the lower bitrate contributes to the track sounding a bit overly compressed at times, this is still a very active and impressive mix for a weekly television show. Dialogue is clear and intelligible, surrounds are used effectively, and bass response is quite good. Michael Giacchino’s score is well-represented in the mix, as well.

[COLOR= #002060]Special Features: 3 out of 5[/COLOR]
The DVD edition comes in a very nice 7-disc keepcase with a 3-D lenticular outer sleeve, and includes a 16-page color booklet listing the contents of each disc.

Although it appears on paper that this set contains a large number of special features, the actual running time is really quite small. I will give Warner credit for noting on the menus which of the special features may contain spoilers, but I would have preferred those to have been included on disc 7, rather than spread over the entire set. All are in anamorphic widescreen, except where noted.

[COLOR= maroon]Disc One:[/COLOR]
[COLOR= maroon]Episode One - Pilot[/COLOR]
Commentary by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Robert Orci: The three executive producers discuss the creation of the series, casting, comparisons to Alias, the directors that inspired them to make the series (David Lynch and David Cronenberg), and shooting in Toronto.

The Massive Undertaking: A 12-minute look behind the scenes of shooting the Pilot.

Deciphering The Scene: A two-minute look at the make-up and CGI effects used on actor Mark Valley.

[COLOR= maroon]Episode Two – The Same Old Story[/COLOR]
Deciphering The Scene: A two-minute look at the effects used to simulate the removal of an eyeball and extract the last image the victim saw before she died.

[COLOR= maroon]Additional Special Features on Disc One:[/COLOR]
Robert Orci’s Production Diary: Executive producer Robert Orci hosts a tour of the sets and locations used when shooting the Pilot in Toronto, interviewing cast and crew.

Evolution: The Genesis of Fringe: Robert Orci, J.J Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Bryan Burk discuss what inspired them to create the series and how the series got made.

[COLOR= maroon]Disc Two:[/COLOR]
[COLOR= maroon]Episode Three – The Ghost Network[/COLOR]
Commentary by Co-Writers David H. Goldman and J.R. Orci and Executive Producer Bryan Burk: The three discuss the difficulties in writing an episode of a series early in its first season. The track is not as involving as one would expect, as the three joke with each other more often than relaying useful information.

The Massive Undertaking: A two-minute behind the scenes look at the opening teaser sequence of the episode. This is almost identical to the Deciphering the Scene segment below.

Deciphering The Scene: A behind the scenes look at the opening teaser sequence of the episode, running just under two minutes.

Dissected Files: Consisting of one deleted scene (1:54) where Agent Scott’s mother gives her son’s medals to Olivia Dunham, presented in non-anamorphic widescreen.

[COLOR= maroon]Episode Four – The Arrival[/COLOR]
Deciphering The Scene: A behind the scenes look at the sequence in the woods involving the cylinder.

Dissected Files: A deleted scene (0:39) where Walter and Peter discuss the theory of a parallel universe, presented in non-anamorphic widescreen.

[COLOR= maroon]Episode Five – Power Hungry[/COLOR]
Deciphering The Scene: A 90 second behind the scenes look at how the exploding transformer was achieved and some of the stunts involved.

Dissected Files: A deleted scene (2:09) where Agent Dunham and Peter purchase pigeons for Walter, presented in non-anamorphic widescreen.

[COLOR= maroon]Additional Special Features on Disc Two:[/COLOR]
The Casting of Fringe: A nine minute look at the casting process for the series. Includes glimpses of some of the audition tapes.

[COLOR= maroon]Disc Three:[/COLOR]
[COLOR= maroon]Episode Six – The Cure[/COLOR]
Deciphering The Scene: A 90 second behind the scenes look at the make-up and practical effect used in the opening diner sequence.

[COLOR= maroon]Episode Seven – In Which We Meet Mr. Jones[/COLOR]
Deciphering The Scene: A 90 second behind the scenes look at the practical and visual effects used to create the heart-wrapping parasite used in the episode.

[COLOR= maroon]Episode Eight – The Equation[/COLOR]
Deciphering The Scene: A two-minute behind the scenes look at choreography behind the fight sequence between Agent Dunham and The Attendent.

Dissected Files: Two deleted scenes, one involving Walter Bishop disrupting Peter’s sleep, and the other where Peter and Olivia play cards. Both are presented in non-anamorphic widescreen.

[COLOR= maroon]Disc Four:[/COLOR]
[COLOR= maroon]Episode Nine – The Dreamscape[/COLOR]
Deciphering The Scene: A two-minute behind the scenes look at how the butterfly attack sequence was achieved.

[COLOR= maroon]Episode Ten – Safe[/COLOR]
Deciphering The Scene: A behind the scenes look at the car chase sequence at the end of the episode, running just under two minutes.

[COLOR= maroon]Episode Eleven – Bound[/COLOR]
Deciphering The Scene: A behind the scenes look at Agent Dunham’s escape sequence near the beginning of the episode, running just under two minutes.

[COLOR= maroon]Additional Special Features on Disc Four:[/COLOR]
Gene The Cow: A tongue in cheek documentary on casting the cows used in several episodes.

[COLOR= maroon]Disc Five:[/COLOR]
[COLOR= maroon]Episode Twelve – The No-Brainer[/COLOR]
Deciphering The Scene: A 90 second behind the scenes look at how the hand coming out if the computer monitor effect was achieved.

[COLOR= maroon]Episode Thirteen – The Transformation[/COLOR]
The Massive Undertaking: A behind the scenes look at both the transformation effect and creating the crash site, running just under three minutes.

Deciphering The Scene: A behind the scenes look at the creation of the crash site, running just under two minutes. Essentially a shorter version of The Massive Undertaking featurette.

[COLOR= maroon]Episode Fourteen – Ability[/COLOR]
Deciphering The Scene: A behind the scenes look at the make-up and visual effects used in the episode.

Dissected Files: A deleted scene where Agent Dunham is debriefed by a German official regarding the escape of Mr. Jones.

[COLOR= maroon]Disc Six:[/COLOR]
[COLOR= maroon]Episode Fifteen – The Inner Child[/COLOR]
Deciphering The Scene: A behind the scenes look at the knife fight sequence in the cemetery, running 90 seconds.

[COLOR= maroon]Episode Sixteen – Unleashed[/COLOR]
Deciphering The Scene: A behind the scenes look at the visual and practical effects used in Walter’s confrontation with the multi-species creature, running just under two minutes.

[COLOR= maroon]Episode Seventeen – Bad Dreams[/COLOR]
Commentary by Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner: The two discuss many of the changes made between drafts and the finished episode, the difficulties cutting the script down to a broadcast hour, how television is different from features, and the use of the symbols during commercial breaks.

Deciphering The Scene: A behind the scenes look at the practical and visual effects used in shooting the sequence of a woman jumping to her death from the rooftop.

[COLOR= maroon]Additional Special Features on Disc Six:[/COLOR]
Behind The Real Science of Fringe: This featurette explores the science and theories that have inspired many of the episodes, with assistance from the show’s science advisors.

Unusual Side Effects: The season one gag or blooper reel, consisting mostly of missed marks, goofs while waiting between lines, and flubbed lines. Presented in non-anamorphic widescreen.

[COLOR= maroon]Disc Seven:[/COLOR]
[COLOR= maroon]Episode Eighteen – Midnight[/COLOR]
Deciphering The Scene: A behind the scenes look at the practical effects used to shoot the fight sequence inside a simulated moving car, running just under two minutes.

[COLOR= maroon]Episode Nineteen – The Road Not Taken[/COLOR]
Deciphering The Scene: A behind the scenes look at shooting a character being set on fire, running just over 90 seconds.

[COLOR= maroon]Episode Twenty – There’s More Than One of Everything[/COLOR]
The Massive Undertaking: A behind the scenes look at the episode’s final scene, running just over three minutes.

Deciphering The Scene: A behind the scenes look at the tractor trailer teleportation sequence, running just over 90 seconds.

[COLOR= maroon]Additional Special Features on Disc Seven:[/COLOR]
Fringe Visual Effects: A look at several of the visual effects used throughout the season, running just over fifteen minutes.

[COLOR= #002060]Overall: 3.5 out of 5[/COLOR]
An exciting new series well-represented here on DVD with decent video and audio, although the special features don’t really delve as deep as most fans would expect.
 

jamoon2006

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Apr 23, 2007
Messages
138
Real Name
Jack Mooney
Great show - I'll be picking this one up soon. The season was a bit slow to start, but it really takes off five or six episodes in.

Excellent review as well. I was hoping for more in the way of special features, but the episodes themselves are so good that it's not too bad.
 

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