Fringe Season 1 DVD review

Left to right: The holographic cover, the inner case, the insert

Left to right: The holographic cover, the inner case, the insert

I love watching shows on TV. I really do. There’s nothing better than experiencing a show for the first time at the same time the rest of the world does. But even while I’m watching the episode, I often find myself wanting to see the ‘making-of’ clips on the DVD. Fringe was not an exception; I often found myself in marvel of the mechanics of the show almost as much as I found the show a marvel in and of itself.

So when the Fringe season one DVD dropped, I rushed out to buy it, scooping up the holographic cover and rushing to checkout, not even bothering to glance at anything between those two points.

And oh, what a good investment the set was.

The seven-disc set, in addition to housing the entire twenty episodes (two episodes for disc one, three each for the rest), has a great collection of special features, which delve into the making of the great show.

Disc 1 offers “Roberto Orci’s Production Diary,” which follows writer and executive producer Roberto Orci throughout a few days during the filming of season one. Joining Orci on the first day of shooting (the warehouse explosion from “Pilot,”) through one of the last days of editing forty-four days later, the diary is both humourous and informative. Jason Butler Harner (who played the twins Richard and Morgan Steig in the pilot) pops up quite often to joke with Richard, as well as Joshua Jackson (Peter), who pretends as though he’s held prisoner by the crew of the show, and is easily the funniest part of the featurette.

Also on the first disc is a brief look into Fringe‘s origins, entitled “Evolution: The Genesis of Fringe.” There’s not much in this that we didn’t already know — J.J. Abrams, Jeff Pinkner, and the rest simply relay inspirations for the show, which include Altered States and The Twilight Zone. Interesting to the uninitiated, but somewhat boring to the rest of us.

The next disc has only one featurette, “The Casting of Fringe.” It’s about exactly what it says its about: how the cast of Fringe came to be. There are interesting bits about Anna Torv, Kirk Acevedo, and Blair Brown, though the casting of Joshua Jackson is conspicuously absent from the montage.

Skipping ahead to the fourth disc, a short, short feature about Gene the Cow is a lighthearted little sketch, taking clips of J.J. talking about casting and making him appear to be gushing about the cow portraying Gene. Jasika Nicole is also interviewed about the care, and her false earnestness is absolutely hilarious.

Disc 6 features two bits of bonus content. “Unusual Side Effects” is a gag real featuring tons of goofs from almost every member of the cast. The most memorable are with John Noble; in one cut clip, he tries to say “the batteries are flat,” but is repeatedly reminded by Joshua Jackson that “this is America, the batteries are dead.”

The other disc six feature is “Behind the Real Science of Fringe.” If you read my earlier TV on DVD report, you’ll know that this was the feature I was looking forward to the most. In retrospect, it’s just a little less deserving of my praises. Two scientists merely discuss a few random monsters-of-the-week with no definite scientific examples (in one deep examination, one compares the exploding head in “The Cure” to a vegetable in a microwave). In fact, the writers of the show showed that they knew more about what they were talking about than the actual scientists, and offered up more information regarding the inspirations for phenomena embellished on the show, and dish up a little extra info on how the Observer came to be, creatively. However, it was still an interesting piece, and worth a watch once, and maybe even twice.

The seventh and final disc has only one piece of bonus content, and that’s an examination of “Fringe Visual Effects.” It’s typical fare for any show like this, and shows (most interestingly) how they created the butterflies for the eighth episode of the series, as well as how they filmed the resulting fall. Another interesting scene deconstructed is the dream sequence from the “Pilot,” when Olivia goes to meet John in the strange reality. As Kevin Blank (a former effects man from Lost, who you all know as the polar bear from “Pilot, Part 2”) states, the entire scene was greenscreen except for the Anna Torv and Mark Valley, who stood on a rotating green platform so the camera could get the shot they needed.

All in all, the Fringe DVD set is one worth buying and watching, even if only for the special features. However, it might not be a bad idea to use the set to brush up on some of the first season’s episodes in preparation for season two, which premieres on September 17, on FOX.

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