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Fringe: The Complete Second Season
Review by Gayle Surrette
Warner Home Video DVD  ISBN/ITEM#: B002JVWRD6
Date: 17 June 2010 List Price $59.98 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Fringepedia: Glyphs code / Show Official Info /

When I received Fringe: The Complete Second Season, I really hadn't heard much about the program. I read the accompanying information and started with episode one. By the time I watched episode 4, I was hooked. A quick trip to the local video place and I had a copy of the first season DVDs.

Fringe is difficult to categorize. It's literate, extremely well-written (as you'd expect with anything J.J. Abrams is involved in) and is sort of X-Files, Twilight Zone, and CSI mixed with fringe science, a parallel universe, mad scientists, and FBI agents trying to cope as our world is threatened by another universe that is merging/colliding with ours.

It's got all the hallmarks of a stellar science fiction series including interesting characters, tightly written scripts, complex plots, and concepts that will make you sit up and take notice. Yet, it also deals with real world problems that people are facing in their every day lives: caring for an aged parent who isn't quite coping with life, interpersonal relationships, maintaining sanity when all about are losing theirs, and dealing with a difficult job that's made more difficult because no one understands what you do anyway.

Season One set up the characters and led the audience to believe that these weekly episodes were just dealing with random weirdness. But by the end of the first season it was fairly obvious that more was going on than the random lunatic of the week. With Season Two, we know that a parallel universe is invading ours and these incidents are getting more frequent and more violent. So far, the catch all 'Terrorist Attack' explanation is keeping the populace calm.

Watching a full season of a show on DVD over a week, allows the viewer to see trends, connections, and development in the characters over time. When you view the same season one episode per week, it's not impossible to note the longer story arcs that take several episodes to complete the story, but it is much more difficult as, over time, one forgets the little hints and clues that have been planted in previous episodes that don't pay off until much later in the season. So, even if you've watched each episode as it appeared, you may want to get the complete season and watch it again.

In season two, you really get to see the growth of the actors as they become more comfortable with their characters. This is especially evident once we see John Noble not only playing Walter Bishop, the absent-minded fringe scientist trying to cope with being out of the insane asylum where he spent many years, and Walter Bishop, the head of homeland security in the alternate universe where he's technically sane but far more vicious and callous than 'our' Walter. Peter (Joshua Jackson) has developed a conscience and must deal with learning that everything he thought he knew was a lie. Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Tory) has also had her world view turned upside down as she lost her lover, her partner, and learns that she's been used by those she trusted.

What truly makes this show great is watching the characters deal with their new knowledge, their acceptance, and their determination to make a difference as they go about their job of protecting the people they serve.

The special features on the discs are Dissected Files, Analyzing the Scene, and Creative Team Commentary. These features may be closer looks at some of the episodes and how they were filmed including how the special effects were done. There's one episode, "Peter", that has a commentary by Blair Brown and John Noble with Damian Holbrook. There's also a gag reel on Disc 4. While Disc 6 has two special features: Series Producers and Consulting Scientists Explore the Mythology of Fringe and In the Lab with John Noble and Prop Master Rob Smith.

All in all this is a great show and collecting the series with the complete season DVDs is one way to remind yourself just how good TV can be. Not to mention enjoying the show again to get prepared for the new season.

If you haven't realized it yet those glyphs at the introduction to the show are an alphabet invented for Fringe and they spell out a word. To find out what the glyphs for each episode are, check out the link at the top of this review (in the link section). There's actual a Fringepedia that is collecting information about Fringe. It's filled with all things Fringe -- check it out.

Fringe: The Complete Second Season is highly recommended.

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