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As I stated in my review of season one, I thought that FRINGE was the absolute best new television series of the 2008-2009 season. After watching a second season of episodes, FRINGE may be the best thing on television… period. Well, at the very least, is now my favorite television show and the single thing on the broadcast that I refuse to miss. Certainly, I have always been a sci-fi/horror geek and can’t get enough of those genres. I will also admit that my love for those genres is what drew me to watch my first episode of FRINGE. However, FRINGE is anything but, just another run-of-the-mill genre TV offering.

Created by J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, FRINGE is a compelling mixture of science fiction, character drama and the police procedural. Certainly, FRINGE has a lot in common with THE X-FILES, which also aired on the Fox Network, but FRINGE is also very different show from that genre television classic. FRINGE is a product of the era in which it was created; taking note of recent history and the paranoid state the world finds itself in since 9/11, conspiracies have been externalized, instead of internalized.

The premise of FRINGE focuses on the investigations of a small division of FBI that is currently looking at a series of events known collectively as "The Pattern" all of which appear to be disastrous experiments in fringe science. FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is the lead investigator for the Fringe Division, and she has assembled a rather unique team. Olivia’s team includes Walter Bishop (John Noble), a brilliant, but disgraced scientist named, who spent seventeen years in a mental institution before being "recruited" by Olivia. Although Walter is quite literally a "mad scientist," his history of working with the government in the area of fringe science makes him the only man capable of understanding the science behind "The Pattern." Walter’s son Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) is nearly as brilliant as his father, but his unconventional background makes him a jack-of-all-trades during the investigations, not to mention the fact that his presence is only thing that can keep Walter’s mind focused on the work.

Overseeing the Fringe Division is Homeland Security Special Agent Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick), whose job includes discovering the end game behind all instances "The Pattern," while running interference with the government bean counters. Fringe Division has also been getting help from the private sector thanks to Massive Dynamic, a powerful global technology corporation that is on the forefront of the majority of the world’s scientific breakthroughs. Massive Dynamic CEO Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) has put the corporation’s resources at the disposal of Fringe Division on numerous occasions, and while Nina appears to be fully cooperating with the government, Olivia suspects Nina’s loyalties really lie with Massive Dynamic’s mysterious founder… who was once Walter’s lab partner. Across season two, "The Pattern" is revealed to be a precursor to a conflict that may destroy our world. In this stead, the phrase we have seen the enemy and it is us certainly comes to mind. However to say anymore would certainly take the joy out of discovering the mysteries of FRINGE on one’s own. The second season cast of FRINGE also features Jasika Nicole as FBI Junior Agent Astrid Farnsworth, Kirk Acevedo as FBI Special Agent Charlie Francis, and Michael Cerveris as a mysterious figure referred to as The Observer.

FRINGE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON ($80) comes to Blu-ray Disc in a four-disc set that features the following twenty-two episodes that were aired during season two: A New Day In The Old Town, Night Of Desirable Objects, Fracture, Momentum Deferred, Dream Logic, Earthling, Of Human Action, August, Snakehead, Grey Matters, Johari Window, What Lies Below, The Bishop Revival, Jacksonville, Peter, Olivia. In The Lab. With The Revolver., White Tulip, The Man From The Other Side, Brown Betty, Northwest Passage, Over There, Part 1 and Over There, Part 2. The unaired season one episode, Unearthed, which was broadcast during season two, is included with this collection amongst the supplemental features.

Warner Home Video has made all twenty episodes from FRINGE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Like the preceding season one collection, the 1080p presentations contained in the FRINGE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON Blu-ray set blow the 720p broadcast versions out of the water. All of the artifacting and other peculiarities associated with the over-compressed network feed from my cable company are nowhere to be seen on the Blu-ray. Almost always, the image appears wonderfully crisp and clear. Dimensionality is very strong, plus there is a strong level of fine detail and texturing. Close-ups by and large bristle; you can see every line, freckle, blemish and imperfection in the actors’ skin. Of course, there are some shots that are a bit softer than others, but unless one feels like picking nits, there really isn’t much here to complain about. Colors are usually well saturated, but the intensity is lighting dependent. Flesh tones appear true to life. Blacks are inky, while whites are crisp. Contrast sometimes comes across as a little harsh. Shadow detail is good, for a television production. There is some grain/noise in the image, with darker sequences displaying more.

All of the episodes that constitute FRINGE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel Dolby Digital 640kbps soundtracks. Again, lossless soundtracks would be better, but I have to say that the lossy 5.1 tracks on this set provide good quality sound. FRINGE is a solidly mixed television production, whose sound design makes genuinely good use of all the discrete channels. Sure it doesn’t sound like a theatrical production, with some concessions being made to the necessities of broadcast, but nonetheless, FRINGE impresses at the television level. Much of the episodes are dialogue driven, so hence the tracks tend to be forward loaded with talky the passages presented front and center. The rear channels kick in with active effects for the action sequences, as well as providing the usual complement of ambience and fill. Despite the lack of a lossless encode, sound effects are convincing and the music sounds good. The bass channel adds some punch and impact when required. No other language tracks have been included on the disc, but English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as, as well as the supplemental materials. Running Audio Commentaries are featured on four episodes: Momentum Deferred, Peter, Brown Betty and Over There, Part 2. Fringe: Analyzing The Scene sidebars are offered for the following six episodes: A New Day In The Old Town, Momentum Deferred, Of Human Action What Lies Below, Brown Betty, and Over There, Part 2. Dissected Files consist of unaired scenes for the following episodes: Night Of Desirable Objects, Grey Matters, Olivia. In The Lab. With The Revolver., Northwest Passage and Over There, Part 2. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Beyond The Pattern: The Mythology Of Fringe (twenty seven minutes) and In The Lab (seven minutes). Unusual Side Effects AKA a Gag Reel closes out the standard supplements. FRINGE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

FRINGE is my favorite, must see show currently airing on network television. The Blu-ray presentations look and sound terrific. Very highly recommended.


Fringe: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray] (2009)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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