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4.4 out of 5 stars
Fringe - Season 1 [Blu-ray] [2009]
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112 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2009
There's no denying it, really: Fringe treads precisely the same ground as The X Files. Except, where X-Files was almost uniformly supernatural or alien-y, Fringe approaches it all with science. Or, rather, "fringe science". So while it deals with the same topics, (such as telekinesis, telepathy, ghosts, "alien" parasites, spontaneous combustion and even vampires) each is given an entirely earthly scientific explanation. The explanations are, of course, as fanciful as any explanation given in the X-Files, and that's a part of its charm.

It has 3 leads, really: Anna Torv as Olivia Dunn, an FBI agent, Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop and John Noble (the unmitigated gem and joy of the entire series) as mad scientific genius, Walter Bishop. Walter is Peter's estranged father, and watching their relationship gradually develop is really very lovely.

Fringe is a complex and wildy twisty series, so describing any one part of it is immensely tricky as it's a little like a knotted ball of string, so everything is connected to everything else.

Each episode is stand alone in terms of topic, ie, telepathy, but arcing throughout the series are multiple threads and you need to watch every episode to keep a handle on them. There's the mysterious, unseen William Bell, Walter Bishop's former lab partner; there's a shadowy, seemingly emotionless, hairless man who seems to be everywhere you look; Nina Sharp, the secretive face of "Massive Dynamic", a huge science and technology conglomerate started by William Bell; Olivia Dunn's past: the tests she went through as a child, and Bell and Bishop's involvement; the big mystery about Peter's childhood and "death"... on and on it goes, everything inextricably linked with everything else, and everything revolving around Walter.

Some of the episodes are phenomenally good and some are terribly lacklustre, making the series so far quite hit and miss. Without John Noble as Walter Bishop, Fringe would be mediocre - he is absolutely its heart and soul - so everything combined, so far so watchable.

However. The final episode is breath-taking. Actually, that needs to be condensed even further: the final scene is breath-taking. I can't possibly overstate how powerful it is. The entire episode is hugely intriguing, and asks as many questions as it hints the answers to. Plus there's a lovely cameo from a sci-fi legend, so it was already rubbing the elbow of greatness. Then the final scene came, and I watched it blithely and contentedly, thinking nothing of it. The camera pulled back slowlyslowly for the big reveal and when realisation sunk in, my skin literally prickled. It was eerie, and it made my head fuzzy for about an hour.

I find myself thinking of it, and wondering, "What if?" The entire series is almost worth watching for that one scene alone. Luckily, the entire series is, overall, really very good, so it won't be a big ole waste of your time. Yes, Fringe is most certainly an homage to X-Files. But it's done well, so no harm done. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter is an homage to butter... but it's still lovely on toast.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This show has real promise! A must for anyone who likes a good conspiracy/mystery, this show rockets along with a self sustaining momentum. The set up is simple enough, FBI agent Olivia Dunham goes about her job, falls in love with her all american partner and is a damned good cop. But everything is not as it appears. Her partner John Scott is injured in an explosion triggered by a man he's chasing in relation to a very unusual plane crash. Then his skin goes see through. This calls for a scientist! But not any scientist will do, the only one who seems like he could possibly help worked for the government doing very unusual, top secret and morally dubious experiments in the seventies in a field called fringe science (basically anything weird like hypnosis, ESP, teleportation, etc). The only problem is that he's properly mental, and has been in an asylum since that time!

This scientist is Walter Bishop, a quixotic and capricious character, who can only be released under the supervision of his only living relative, his estranged but equally brilliant son Peter Bishop. Olivia convinces Peter to get Walter released so he can save John. We find that Walter's ex lab partner, William Bell, is the founder of the biggest company in the world, Massive Dynamic, which is at the forefront of scientific development, and Massive Dynamic seem to have a hand in John Scott's transparent skin. A shan't ruin the end of the episode, but this is the basic template for the rest of the show. We have the triumvirate of Olivia, the passionate, but by the book police officer, with a knack of spotting things others miss, Peter, a snarky and cynical boy genius with temper issues, and Walter, often distracted, always inappropriate, but invariably on the nose with his analysis of whatever pseudo-science in on show that week. The interplay between them starts off ok and gets better and better as time goes on. Every week there is a new case of seemingly impossible things happening, normally involving dangerous or gruesome crimes, all of which we learn are linked in something called "The Pattern", and Olivia is recruited to a top secret FBI division tasked with getting to the bottom of it. She enlists Walter as a consulting scientist, and Peter as the only person who "speaks Walter" who help explain how the strange things happen, and suggest novel ways in which she can find out who is doing them.

The reason this show doesn't get 5 stars is due to Peter. For about half the episodes, he feels a little bit superfluous, as if the producers thought it would be a good idea for there to be someone to be dubious about some of the more ridiculous ideas Walter comes up with, and someone to punch someone every so often, but decided to make these minor roles a major character. However, towards the back end of the series he becomes more useful, and his sarcastic comments (which were annoying, to be frank) become less frequent, and more pertinent.

As you should expect from a J.J.Abrams production, it's very well acted (especially John Noble as Walter and Anna Torv as Olivia), slickly produced, and the intrigue and plot twists come thick and fast (though it's not quite so unanswering as Lost, which is a definite boon). However, many of the episodes, as well as the overarching story are genuinely exciting, as opposed to just intriguing. This program has a lot of potential, and I have already preordered the second series for September. And after the double whammy reveal at the end of the last episode, I can't wait!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Despite its conceptual similarity to the X-files, this series manages to avoid being a re-hash of an old format. The `science' is without doubt `fringe' (more like totally far-fetched) so it doesn't do to watch this with a rational scientific head on but it is still entertaining and the Massive Dynamic and `the pattern' back plots are sufficiently engaging to keep a hint of conspiracy running through the series. As with most TV series' there are, of course, a few duff episodes but the fine performance of John Noble (the nothing-like-mad-enough Denethor from Lord of the Rings amongst other things) as the scatty Walter Bishop and the I've-just-walked-off-the-set-of-The-Wire performance of Lance Reddick maintain the strongly character based storylines thus ensuring that the pseudo-scientific nonsense does not intrude on the central narrative. It's a well written and entertaining TV show with a clever bit of plotting and we're very much looking forward to the arrival of series two.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 February 2012
Just finished watching Season 1 after a recommendation from a friend who's a bit of a Sci-fi addict! WOW, easily the best Sci-fi series I've seen for years. Not that it doesn't have the occasional flaw but nothings perfect! I think people tend to forget it is science FICTION not science, so of course we're expected to suspend disbelief.

As per the Amazon description there are some similarities to the 'X files' but the series has a faster pace and the characters are warmer and more likeable. Walter Bishop, the scientist emerging after 17 years spent in a secure mental institution is the 'archetypal' mad but inspired scientist, who is very endearing yet clueless on a social level. The part is played quite brilliantly and injects a much needed element of humour which really sets the show apart from the intensity of the 'X files' The rest of the cast are also convincing, no wooden acting here as so often found in Sci-fi.

Unlike the 'X files' where the underlying narrative is often obscured by episode after episode focussing on the particular investigation to hand, the characters, the individual cases and the central precept are developed hand in hand so by every third episode or so you move closer to an understanding of the bigger picture. This is quite ingenuously linked to the gradual recovery of memories long since buried as Walter Bishop recovers from his long incarceration and comes to terms with his past.

A highly recommended series for all Sci-fi buffs, can't wait to see how the story develops in Series 2!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 October 2010
'Fringe' is a science fantasy series: imagine 'The X-Files' crossed with 'Lost', with elements of 'The Twilight Zone'. In fact, after viewing the opening credits, a viewer new to the series might be forgiven for thinking that it's an 'X-Files' clone. However, although it has an FBI agent and an expert in fringe science and the paranormal as lead characters, this first season does enough to establish an independent identity.

'Fringe''s greatest strength is the strong characterisation of the leading actors. As played by Anna Torv, Olivia Dunham is credibly intelligent and courageous as the principal investigator who slowly comes to see that she has a vital personal interest in the outcome of her investigations. John Noble's Walter Bishop stays just the right side of melodrama as the half-deranged scientific genius whose earlier work is implicated in the strange events. Among the three leads, only the part of his son Peter - played by Joshua Jackson - suffers from thin writing, convincing neither as a rogue semi-criminal nor as a man who has supposedly inherited his father's genius-level IQ. Fortunately a strong supporting cast is on hand to distract attention: in particular, Blair Brown as Nina Sharp, CEO of the powerful Massive Dynamic corporation, is a wonderfully ambiguous figure.

Ultimately, 'Fringe' is a paranoid conspiracy thriller built around a vaguely scientific premise (which is why I describe it as 'science fantasy') and as such it delivers consistently, with plenty of unexpected reversals, betrayals and surprises. The 'science' behind the various phenomena under investigation doesn't bear much examination - geeks will have a field day here - but the special effects used to realise them are excellent throughout.

Like 'The X-Files', 'Fringe' begins with episodes that seem to be government investigations of independent mysterious phenomena, but as Olivia and her partners delve deeper they start to uncover hidden connections that hint at a larger and much more frightening picture. By the season end, some of those connections have been exposed, and puzzling features from the earlier episodes tied together. The result is an entertaining series set in a world in which corporations may be more powerful than government agencies, and scientific progress itself may be the source of a terrible unforeseen threat. Every individual episode is worth watching, but the cumulative result is something larger.

This 7-disk set includes the usual array of short features and cast and crew interviews. Recommended for fans of the genre.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2011
I'm never one to quit a TV series after a copuple of episodes, but i have to admit i very nearly did with Fringe. If it wasn't for Joshua Jackson and John Noble's characters i probably would have.

But i persevered and i'm glad i did because this does pick up the pace (and series 2 is even better). Then you suddenly find yourself thinking back to the earlier episodes and realising "hey, they weren't so bad!). It borrows heavily from the likes of CSI, X-Files, Twilight Zone etc but not much is original these days. And if you liked Lost, then you know Abrams won't let you down (ok, well maybe a little bit!).
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 14 September 2010
Great series, I think, and friends I've passed it on to / watched episodes with agree.
Yes, you're a bit more likely to enjoy it if you like sf-type shows, but the acting is good and the ever-building narrative is terrific - always enough momentum to get over the sporadic holes in the plot!
Plus if you like this, you will certainly want to get Season 2 ...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 November 2011
'Fringe' is a slick up-grade of 'X-Files,'with maybe a dash of 'Lost' along with a hint of the paranoia of 'X-files' Chris Carter's 'Millennium.' Fast-paced, well-scripted and compelling, with rather less gloom and angst than the 'X-Files'. It features John Noble, as the mad-scientist (really!) Peter Bishop, with some deadpan humour played out between Bishops father and son. Season One sets up the story, the back-story and a conspiracy theory involving an international network of rogue scientists preparing for an end-of-the-world scenario. Anna Torv features Olivia Dunham, an FBI agent investigating the spread of unexplained phenomena. a Scully clone with a personal link to the unexplained as she is hooked in to her dead lover's memories. As Season One progresses, we know that the going is getting weirder - so look forward to Season Two!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2010
This is a truly brilliant series. One of the best to come from America in a long while.
It has a bit of everything. Thought provoking, intrigue, suspence, shock, comedy moments and funny one liners from Walter Bishop (Joshua Jackson). Supurb acting throughout from all concerned.
A cut above the rest, don't miss it, highly recommended, Anna Torv is hot!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2014
I have recently tried several new [ to me ] sci-fi series which have scored well in star ratings . I have been very disappointed by 4 series and approached Fringe with some trepidation . However I find that I am enjoying this series . Other reviews furnish you with greater detail of characters , plots etc., I will just say that I find the series to be thoughtful,well paced ,well acted and sufficiently interesting to keep me coming back for more . There are inevitably some areas where one has to be a little critical . Why do so many series have to have one super intelligent scientist who has , seemingly , infinite knowledge and multiple skills that save the day in [ record ] time but at least Walter Bishop is very well acted and entertaining to boot! And to think that I have another 4 series to go , that should keep me going for some while.
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