Blu-ray Review: Fringe - Season Three

Posted by: Andrew Burns  //  September 11, 2011 @ 5:36pm

Filed under: TV on DVD Reviews 

Need to get caught up on television's best-written sci-fi series on the air before those premier weeks start back up? Then look no further than the third season of FOX's mind-bending show of universal proportions, Fringe, in glorious HD. Here is an in depth look at Fringe's season three box set on 4 Disc Blu-ray.

Fringe Season 3:

I'm not sure Fringe could ever top the amount of excitement and mystery from their freshmen year, but season three is as close as if comes. Have been fortunate enough to review the popular FOX show this past season my appreciation for Fringe as a series has grown way beyond my love for the modern sci-fi genre. With season three's increased added involvement with the alternate universe many of the main cast members were able to play doppelgangers of their already established characters. Having added this new element to the show it took Fringe obviously way beyond their previous imaginations but more importantly allowed the show to raise the bar dramatically on so many levels. The already complex personal relationships are amplified with the welcomed addition of the alternate universe and no character is off limits. Bottom line: Fringe's season three is television at its finest regardless of genres.

[Side Note]: Having the show presented in beautifully clear HD may be the icing on the cake but it still doesn't make the hidden observer in each episode any easier to find. Happy hunting though.

Episode Commentaries:

For this third season box set Fringe selected two unique episodes to add audio commentary to and shed some light on some of the show's many mysteries. Episodes 3.03 "The Plateau" (Disc 1) and fan favourite 3.19 "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide" (Disc 4).

  1. In "The Plateau" commentary Executive Producer Jeff Pinkner, episode writer Monica Owusu-Breen, and Editor Timothy A. Good talk about the subtleties that make the alternate universe what it is. Not as much as the things they explain throughout the episode but more like little differences that are only shown in quick glimpses in passing. I picked up on most of these subtle differences as I watched the season unfold last year but there were something's I missed that they pointed out.

    They also discuss the stunt with guest star Michael Eklund as Milo jumping over the bridge and on to that truck driving under it. Hearing how that stunt was not only done without any wires but by the actor himself just makes you appreciate it tenfold.

    I appreciate it when series do commentary on episodes like these. Episodes that may not be important in terms of the grand scheme of the whole season yet it still allows those providing the commentary to point out the little things that make this show great. Having commentary on every episode would not only be ridiculous but it would cheapen those little reveals you can enjoy by listening the production staff pointing out areas that cast members may take for granted.
  2. In the second commentary for "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide" Producer Tanya Swerling, Editor Luyen Vu, and Visual Effects Supervisor Jay Worth break down Fringe's most unique episode of the year and it's challenges. In case you may have forgot this episode was the one where Peter and Walter had to enter Olivia's mind, with William Bell inside, that eventually turned into a cartoon for a portion of the show. They talk about how the executive producers wanted to bring the character of Bell back but they never actually mention the reason why they couldn't have Leonard Nimoy in front of the camera. That if you were unfamiliar, being in the middle of season 2 a couple of years ago Nimoy announced his retirement from acting. So during the commentary they discussed how they backwards planned that episode to be animated so that both Nimoy and Bell could be back in the show. For the most part the commentary just talks about the technical logistics that went into animating this episode, and unfortunately don't give any hint at who the mystery man was inside Olivia's subconscious.

[Side Note]: in both commentaries those narrating help the viewers at home and point out the observer in the episode.

'Glimmer to the Other Side' Experience:

This ultra special feature experience is perhaps the best in the whole box set. The 'Glimmer Experience' is only for episode 3.16, "OS" (Disc 3), gives a kind of Picture-and-Picture mode where they alternate between the actual episode and behind the scene footage with cast and crew interviews. Also there are side opinions on top of the P.I.P. where you could use the remote and select bonus material. This may not be the best way to watch the episode for the first time if you are watching the box set all the way through but from a fanboy's perspective it doesn't get any better than this. Executive Producers and show runners Pinkner and J.H. Wyman act as the narrators for this whole episode function. Explaining everything from how the episode's idea is formed, how they break the story, and then finally how their production staff makes it a reality.

They also bring in unique behind the scene crew members you never normally seen or hear from. People like the scientific consultants who fact check or rationalize the complex and bizarre fringe events into laymen terms for the average viewer at home. One of the little additional pop ups gave some insight to the world of the paraplegic sport known as 'Murder Ball'. Though it may not be a subject related to sci-fi element on the show it was still just as interesting to see the amount of background and detail that went into researching a scene for simply a minor plot transition.

If it had the option to watch every episode in this 'Glimmer Experience' I would, but maybe that's just me. I'm a kind of a special feature junkie so when it comes to box sets and special editions I eat this stuff up. Picking the "OS" episode to view this glimmer mode was fantastic because of the wealth of effects being done as well as the seeing how they integrate the season's main plot through slight story over tones.

Additional Featurettes & Bonus Material:

The remaining special features (located on Disc 4) of behind the scenes material are spilt up into about eight mini featurettes; all under ten minutes. There are four featurettes just focusing on this season's 'Duality of Worlds'. Everything from the cast discuss their love for playing their alternate versions of themselves, the deep psychology in how one choice can change one's path in life, to the visual differences between the two worlds. Also there is a brief look into how Fringe is scored from week to week and the process that went into the animation for episode 3.19.

There are two minor disappointment for the final bonus material. There is a short feature, which originally aired as a web extra on Fox.com, where Pinkner and Wyman go into the possible history of the 'first people' and how it's not that far off from being non-fiction. Though it was an interesting mini interview it wasn't anything new as it was online before season three was even at the half way mark. Lastly I was also disappointed in the box set's Gag Reel's length. Being that Fringe had a traditional 22 episode season I would have liked more than just 3 minutes of funny.

The Verdict:

If you are a Fringe fan like me this box set will have more than enough material to tie you over until their fourth season's premiere on September 23 later this month. However, be sure to pick up Season Three on Blu-ray rather than DVD if you got the extra cash because the 'Glimmer Experience' I was boosting about earlier is a Blu-ray only exclusive. This box set will reveal just enough mystery from last year's stand out acclaimed season to leave you only wanting more and two of everything.

'Til September 23rd... I'll see you on the other side Fringe fans.

Tags: Fringe, Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Lance Reddick, Jasika Nicole, Jeff Pinkner, J.H. Wyman, FOX, Blu-ray

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Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.

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