Fringe: Season One (Blu-ray)

A young, beautiful, and determined FBI agent (Anna Torv) forms an unlikely alliance with a brilliant scientist (John Noble), who's spent the last 17 years in a mental institution, and his sarcastic son (Joshua Jackson) to investigate a series of bizarre deaths and disasters known as "the Pattern." They suspect someone is using the world as a laboratory, and all clues lead back to a powerful corporation called Massive Dynamic.

I really love the premise of this show, but the execution left me wanting more, especially the performance of Anna Torv. Sure, she's a pretty face, but she's wildly outclassed when sharing the screen with Jackson and Noble. The show has been compared to Lost, but I just don't see it. Yes, they share some common themes—as well as creator J.J. Abrams—but Lost had me hooked from the pilot, and after watching the first season of Fringe, I doubt I'll catch the second.

Consistent video from the VC-1 encode renders accurate colors, stable contrast, and excellent detail on both long shots and close-ups. Blacks are inky and deep, and shadow detail is exquisite, providing phenomenal depth and dimension. Given the length of a 20-episode season, there are a few rough patches along the way, but overall, this is a great presentation.

A paltry Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack sometimes shines but mostly disappoints. As with most lossy recordings, voices sound less natural, highs are very bright, and the midrange isn't as dynamic as what I've come to expect with Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA. Ambient noise populates the rear speakers, but the track is very front heavy and lacks creativity in its sound design.

The five-disc set includes three commentary tracks on the pilot episode, "The Ghost Network," and "Bad Dreams," five behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a production diary from Roberto Orci. Blu-ray exclusives include a "Fringe Pattern Analysis," which takes a closer look at six select scenes, and BD-Live access.

I really liked the scientific approach to the show, but without connecting with the lead character, it became too laborious to sit through. The video presentation is top-notch, although the use of a lossy Dolby Digital soundtrack is a head-scratcher.

Release Date: September 8, 2009
Studio: Warner

Movie: 6/10
Picture: 9/10
Sound: 7/10

Review System

Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player

JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner

M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector

Acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics