Fringe Season Four [Blu-Ray]

Fringe Season Four [Blu-Ray]
In the aftermath of last season's deft culmination of a series' worth of carefully interwoven plot threads, the most consistently compelling sci-fi show on television takes a while to find its stride, operating within a new paradigm. Having successfully reconciled the conflict between two alternate dimensions by erasing himself from history, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) is obviously out of the picture when we pick up the story in the resulting alternate time-line. As the one constant in a series fascinated with personality swapping, his absence is felt ― and not just in the form of fleeting images and whispers detected by his father, mad scientist and elaborate snacker extraordinaire Walter Bishop (John Noble), as he, Olivia (Anna Torv), Astrid (Jasika Nicole) and Broyles (Lance Reddick) investigate the usual assortment of clever and bizarre paranormal cases. The anchor is gone ― since Peter never was, no one is the same. As another philosophical exercise, the approach is intellectually stimulating, but it disconnects the audience from the emotional bonds they've formed with the richly realized cast of characters. It feels a little late to be starting over, but, ever the crafty conceptualists, the Fringe team use this new time-line to revisit and reconnect events from the show's past, bending and confounding expectation to pave the way towards an end-game that promises to be as wilfully unconventional, wildly inventive and utterly enthralling as everything that's come before. And, really, that's what we want from a show like this: to be surprised. Showrunners J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinker function much like the characters they write about: their methods may not always be comforting, but they get results. Furthering this atypical and effective approach to presenting information, there are no commentary tracks to discuss the intent and implications of the series, which often devolve into awkward time-killing anyway. Instead, Wyman and Pinker are joined by John Noble, physicist Nicholas Warner and philosopher Dr. Shlomo Sher for a roundtable discussion. It's an efficient and informative way to dig into the show's countless complex moral and philosophical issues, giving equal consideration to the value of radical science as a tool of introspection. More traditional features can be found in "A World Without Peter" and "The Observers," in which we are treated to a number of on-set interviews with cast members and get a good look at how the makeup department makes those pasty, seemingly omnipotent pepper-gluttons hairless. There's also a brief look at the comic book Joshua Jackson wrote detailing Peter's experiences as a nonentity, a superfluous collection of Walter highlights (though he does have delicious one-liners and visual punch-lines) and the standard footage of people laughing, flubbing takes and bumping into things. (Fox)