It’s hard to believe that Fringe started life as an X-Files wannabe, sci-fi procedural of the week. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the show from the beginning. But it really didn’t really feel like they were laying the groundwork for the show to become the epic experience that it is Season 2. I’m going to get into spoilers here, so if you aren’t current, than don’t read this.
So, it turns out that Fringe is a show about a secret war that is raging between multiple universes! Universes which contain alternate versions of each of us. How cool is that?! There are interviews on the Season 2 Blu-Ray release where co-creator J.J. Abrams (Lost) alleges to having this planned from the beginning, but I’m not sure I entirely believe him. The show always had an underlying mythology, but it felt like it was going somewhere smaller. I initially thought the show was going to be simply about Massive Dynamics, a corporation seemingly connected to the sci-fi craziness happening in the world around them. It seemed like there were a lot of secrets, and I was sure we were in for a lot of twists and turns. I suppose it’s the scope of those twists that caught me off guard.
In looking back, it makes sense how the current story arc relates to the original stories. It just feels different. It’s as if they went and shoe-horned in this new and improved storyline. It works, but it doesn’t necessarily feel natural. However, now that the secret is out and the audience is aware of the trans-dimensional nature of the show, the writers are given so much more to do. The majority of our three leads have very specific connections to the other world (I won’t reveal more than that), and these connections ground the over-the-top science fiction in a relatable way. In doing so, the writers have brought a level of humanity to a story that could be portrayed as nothing more than sequences and ideas.
It seems as if Season 1 served as an introduction, both to the characters and the nature of the world in which they reside. Season 2 seems to have ramped up the storytelling and mythology on a grander scale. And Season 3, which has barely begun, is hopefully going to be the year in which they are able to start paying this all off. I wouldn’t recommend jumping into Season 3 without the buildup. Season 1 has a few episodes that relate, but it doesn’t seem as important in the grand scheme. However, Season 2 is critical in establishing where the show is going. Warner Bros. has just released Season 2 on Blu-Ray, and I would highly recommend picking up the set and getting current if you aren’t already.
This is really a fantastic Blu-Ray release. As mentioned earlier, the scope of the show is just huge. Every week feels more like a movie than it does a show, especially the latter half of the season. The picture on the Blu-Ray is flawless, and really does justice to the cinematic nature of the show. The show is filled with creative and original special effects, epic stunt work, and masterful directing. At this point in the show, everything is just clicking. All departments of the production seem to be working at the top of their game, and the efforts come through on screen.
The extras on the Blu-Ray reinforce just how much creativity and effort goes into creating this show. A feature called “Analyzing the Scene” is available on several episodes, and like the name implies, provides a greater insight into the creative process behind individual sequences. Everything from costuming and makeup, to effects and stunt work are covered. There are also several commentaries, deleted scenes (or dissected files, as they’re called here), and a short feature on the props used in the show. This feature is enthusiastically hosted by series star John Noble. There’s also the requisite gag reel, and a feature running just under 30 minutes that dissects the mythology of the show in Season 2. It’s an interesting feature, but kind of pointless if you’ve actually watched the episodes. It mostly just serves as a recap of what was just seen.
The show got a slow start, and while it was never bad, it’s definitely gotten a lot better. It’s fascinating to witness the creative evolution of the show over these past couple of years. Season two is an exponential improvement over the already-entertaining Season 1. There’s still a lot of potential in this story, and if Season 3 evolves the show as much as Season 2 did, this could end up one of the all-time classics of science-fiction.