Case Number 22289

FRINGE: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON

Warner Bros. // 2010 // 962 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 15th, 2011

The Charge

Rage against the machine.

Opening Statement

The best show you'll find on network television is here with it's third season, a mind-bending excursion into hugely rewarding mythology. Watch it please.

Facts of the Case

As Season Two wrapped, we were fully engaged into the guts of what makes the Fringe universe tick: duality. What we have are two parallel universes, stocked with the same people (on a genetic level) but different choices have led to stark changes -- changes that have had a severe impact on the fabric of space-time.

Yes that is full-on nerd-talk, but only a show as bad-ass as Fringe can get me to talk up quantum physics with glee.

The Evidence

Such a delicate balance with plot heavy, narrative focused shows like Fringe. I want to tell you about all the fantastic twists and character moments that have come to define this series, yet it would be criminal for me to get within ten miles of spoiling anything. So, I think you're just going to have to trust me: Fringe is one of the few truly great shows on television right now.

Season Three kicked off with the off-putting news that Fox had moved the show to Friday night, an infamous graveyard for most broadcast television. Yet the show survived and appeared to have brought its fan base with it and would eventually get renewed for a full Season Four order. The creative fallout was an abandonment of monster-of-the-week episodes and full embrace of show-to-show mythology. There are still one-offs, but everything is explicitly tied into the overall arc, ensuring that whenever you tune in, you're going to get another piece of the puzzle. For this I am deeply appreciative as the stand-alone format pushed me away when I first started watching Fringe and the mythos ultimately lured me back in.

Season to season, the layers were peeled away to reveal what would become the driving force of the Fringe fiction: a war between universes. I won't cough up the meaty details, but the short of it is that there are two universes, nearly mirror images save for a few tweaks and an action taken by this earth's Walter Bishop (John Noble, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and criminally Emmy-less) has put the two dimensions on a collision course for war. Sifting their way through the mad science that has accompanied the conflict is FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv, raising her acting game considerably) and Walter's son, Peter (Joshua Jackson, One Week).

For this go-round, the writers have opted to devote entire episodes and storylines to other earth. It's a brilliant move and dirties the water as far as who the villains are. Fringe would be a lot shallower if there were sharp lines of good and evil and in Season Three the express intent is develop two competing planes of existence, each in a desperate race to save themselves from getting wiped out of creation.

This decision opens up new storytelling avenues and, perhaps, having made peace with the fact that they're writing to their fan-base, the creative team has pulled together some great stuff and none are a pointless noir gimmick episode! Sign up for Season Three and you're getting time travel, mercury bleeding shapeshifters, trans-dimensional love children, imploding city parks, exploding human heads, Bubbles from The Wire, posthumous body possession, universe-obliterating machines stuck in the earth by an ancient race and bowling.

So much insanity to sift through, yet unlike other mystery-driven, mythology-rich hourlongs, Fringe will answer questions. Sure, more questions open up, but they're different and organic; most importantly, the mysteries and resolutions point to a clear vision (though how the show-runners plan to explain the cliffhanger season finale is beyond me).

Solid DVD set through and through, featuring a crisp 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and an active 5.1 surround mix. Extras: crew commentary on two episodes; featurettes on the mythology, set design and sound design; a look at how the excellent episode "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide" was animated and a gag reel.

Closing Statement

Great season and a worthy DVD presentation. If you're a fan of the show, you don't need convincing. If you've never seen it, start from the beginning, hold fast through the first few episode, then buckle up.

The Verdict

The Observer says...Not Guilty!

Review content copyright © 2011 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 80
Acting: 95
Story: 95
Judgment: 95

Perp Profile
Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* English (SDH)
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 962 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary
* Featurettes
* Gag Reel

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1119644/combined

* Official Site
http://www.fox.com/fringe/