Fringe Season Two [Blu-Ray]

Fringe Season Two [Blu-Ray]
Delivering on the vast promise of its initial run, Fringe has become one of the most mentally stimulating and emotionally moving shows on television with this second volume. FBI agent Olivia Dunham (the head of a special investigative team dealing with unexplained phenomena) returns from her trip to the alternate dimension revealed at the end of season one, minus her memories of meeting William Bell (Leonard Nimoy). The writers of Fringe love a good beating around the bush when doling out info, but this season serves up plenty of answers without blowing its entire mythology wad. Dr. Walter Bishop (the half-bonkers genius scientist played by John Noble) is one of the most likeably flawed characters ever created. In a particularly challenging arc this year, Noble invests Walter with such rich depth that it sometimes feels like he's got a remote control for my emotions. The show makes better use of its formidable cast overall this season, giving Ana Torv more involving scenarios to sink her teeth into, finding a better use for Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) and sending Peter (an excellent Joshua Jackson) down volatile paths of self-discovery. Always dynamically shot, with better special effects than most non-blockbuster features, Fringe has found its footing, playing to its strengths as a monster-of-the-week procedural while skilfully interlocking every case within the grander scheme and taking a few wacky left-field turns with episodes like the stoned noir fiction of "Brown Betty." There are more than a few game-changing episodes, not the least being the brilliant shake up of the two-part finale, but there are more than a few landmines placed earlier on as well. A handful of episodes have comprehensive behind-the-scenes features on stunts, tricky shots and make-up. Some also have "Dissected Files" ― deleted scenes of varying quality. The real meat is on the fourth disc, which includes an entire unaired episode from early in the season (it's pretty awesome, but doesn't connect to anything), a hilarious gag-reel (a deal-sealer for audience appreciation), "In the Lab" with John Noble and the show's prop master, and multiple commentaries. The commentaries are spread across all the discs, with a broad sampling of people who work on the show, making for a nice variety of perspectives on what goes into making an episode. I didn't find any Easter Eggs, which would be fitting and appreciated for a show of this nature, but that doesn't hold Fringe Season Two back from being essential viewing. (Warner)