Fringe Season 1
by Del Harvey
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FBI special agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is assigned to investigate a suspected bioterrorist attack which killed every living thing aboard an international flight, including her lover and partner, John Scott (Mark Valley, Boston Legal). Now Scott lies on a gurney, his body slowly crystalizing from fringe exposure to some of the lethal compound which wiped out everyone on board the plane. Desperate to save the man she loves, Dunham enlists the help of mentally unstable scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble) and does so by manipulating his brilliant but mysterious son, Peter (Joshua Jackson), because Bishop Sr. was the last man to have worked on such a chemical compound. And he did so as a scientist in the service of the U.S. government, long before he was institutionalized.
She also drags in fellow agents Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) and Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) as they to unravel the mystery of the strange toxin discovered on the plane and save her dying partner. Soon, Dunham becomes part of the Department of Homeland Security’s ‘Fringe Division,’ a super secret government organization whose job seems to be tracking unexplained phenomena which they call “The Pattern.” Under the tutelage of her superior, agent Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick, The Wire), Agent Dunham and her motley crew begin making connections between the Pattern and a shady global corporation named Massive Dynamic, which just happens to be owned and operated by Bishop Sr.’s former lab partner, William Bell.
Over the course of Season 1’s twenty episodes, Dunham gets the opportunity to question Massive Dynamic’s CEO, Nina Sharp (Blair Brown). And Bishop Sr. and son Walter work to overcome their deep-seated family issues, while the Fringe Division attempts to observe and contain a steady stream of vicious attacks, unexplained oddities, and grotesque events that often leave the team with more questions than answers.
Created by the same creative talents who gave us the TV series Alias, Fringe bears similarities to that show as well as to the most recent alien invasion favorite, The X-Files, although it holds up well under its own steam and really is not much like either when you get into the second half of the season. To satisfy lovers of those earlier programs, we can report that Fringe does feature enough dark and grisly elements to satisfy fans, yet does so with an more intellectual and simply smarter aesthetic.
And one reason for this is the cast, who’s characters seem to have sort of stumbled upon one another in the first episode, but by the second half of the season clearly are much deeper and more evenly drawn than most. And still there is enough mystery behind each character’s back story that our interest is fully invested.
Fringe: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray includes all 20 episodes that aired on the Fox Network. The second season will begin on September 17th at 9PM.
Additional Blu-ray Bonus Features:
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.
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