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Fringe: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Finnish, French, Norwegian, Spanish (Latino), Swedish
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 4 (4 x Blu-ray )
  • Digital Copies: UltraViolet
  • Run Time: 957 Mins.
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 4, 2012
  • List Price: $69.97

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:3.5/5]

Fringe started out seeming like just another post-X-Files sci-fi drama in its first season, but it very quickly established itself as one of the finest and most unpredictable sci-series on television. Four seasons later, while I still appreciate the show, it would be difficult for me to argue that they haven’t lost their way somewhat. Veering off into a storyline involving multiple universes, time paradoxes and doppelgängers, the writers blew right past the “science” part at some point and were at great pains it seems to stretch the “fiction.” Don’t get me wrong, I wholly enjoyed Season Three of Fringe, but when it ended, I expected the fourth season to offer some sort of closure or explanations. It didn’t really.

Season Four, rather than strictly picking up where the third left off with Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) entering “the machine” to somehow save the parallel universe from extinction, and going from there, gave us a completely different world. Okay, one could maybe excuse this, two universes co-existing with knowledge of each other and, no knowledge of their savior, Peter Bishop, as a perfectly reasonable explanation due to a time paradox, but, umm, why is it, then, that Peter manages to come back? And how do these parallel universe dwellers keep going back and forth between each others’ universes without the paradoxes piling up on each other? Hmm.

Anyway, Season Four brings along with it a whole new set of challenges for the newly revamped Fringe division. Peter, when he does finally break through to this new timeline, must help both universes hunt down their old foe David Robert Jones (Jared Harris) who has set a plan in motion in both universes that could prove detrimental to each side, and somehow Olivia (Anna Torv) is central to it all. Meanwhile, The Observers begin to assert themselves more, even as one in particular, September, tries to help Peter, Olivia, and Walter (John Noble) as much as he can to save themselves and their world.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Probably due to budgetary concerns, Fringe switched from being shot on Kodak 35mm (Super 35) to being done in high definition on the Arri Alexa with Panavision Primo Lenses. While the series manages to maintain a consistent look, there are some issues that creep into this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement that weren’t there in previous Blu-ray releases. Firstly, black levels seem to crush a bit more. Secondly, there is obviously some video noise here and a few issues with posterization in the source that were never a problem before. That said, Fringe on Blu-ray is still wonderful to watch and, it really goes without saying at this point, vastly superior to its 1080i, heavily compressed broadcast versions.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

It may only be 16-bit, but Fringe’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack is excellent for a television series. Firstly, the low frequencies are downright hefty, but that’s not the only thing that makes the sound so good, it’s really the little things in the mix that one can pick up on. The small, atmospheric sounds in the surround channels like footsteps or traffic noise, the creaking of a floorboard, or even just the swelling of the music in soundtrack that draws one into the action and the mood. Admittedly, there is often some ever so slight clipping that can be picked up in the dialogue during some of the loudest passages, which is why this doesn’t gain a perfect score.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

Fringe hits Blu-ray with a rather strong selection of high definition featurettes that cover everything from The Observers, to philosophical discussions of the series’ themes and its comic books. They will hold a lot of interest for fans, which is rather unusual for these sorts of things, it’s sad to say.

The supplements:

  • Behind the Story:
    • A World Without Peter (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:12:25) – J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner discuss their approach to the Fringe world without Peter Bishop as the cast weighs in on how this unique storyline affected their roles this season.
    • The Observers (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:11:48) – A truly in-depth look into the world of The Observers which delves into the intentions, idiosyncrasies and purpose of these mysterious characters, through conversations with the executive producers, creators, and cast.
    • Beyond the Comic Book (1.78:1;1080p/24; 00:03:39) – The executive producers and Joshua Jackson discuss the Fringe comic book which explains some things that took place in between the third and fourth season.
    • Beyond the Fringe – Peter and the Machine Comic Book (excerpt) – After an on-camera introduction, Joshua Jackson pulls out the comic book Beyond the Fringe and we transition into an animated version of the section he penned himself, called “Peter and the Machine.”
    • The Culture of Fringe (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:29:43) – A roundtable discussion with some of the most distinguished minds in science and science fiction including show runners Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman, actor John Noble, Professors in philosophy and physics, and moderator Entertainment Weekly’s Jeff Jensen.
    • Have You Seen Walter Lately? (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:11) – Everyone’s Favorite Walter Moments.
  • Gag Reel (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:11)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Season Four is meant to setup the fifth and final season of Fringe, but it may very well have been the weakest season of the series yet. One can only hope that, whatever they have planned to wrap the series up, it will not be as much of a let down as this one. Hopefully this was just a transitional moment before the final, strong push toward the end.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Fringe: The Complete Fourth Season on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Fringe, Season 4 - Fringe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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Purchase Fringe: The Complete Fourth Season on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Fringe, Season 4 - Fringe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]


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