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Fringe makes good on its third season's powderkeg of a finale and delivers a wickedly surpising and unpredictable new Blu-ray set....
Warner / 1012 Minutes / 2011-2012 / Unrated / Street Date: September 4, 2012
Lost's parallelism spun out of control. When that deserted-island-turned-brain-melt went from a smart-man's Fantasy Island to corporate conspiracy to brainwashed melodrama to time-travelling parallel universe head trip, it retained its innate boldness - even when it was at its worst, it wasn't awful - but ended up getting too brainy and narratively ambitious for its own good.
That being said, if the 'alternate universe', 'parallel world' storytelling devices was what really hooked you on Lost, then if you haven't already begun suckling at the boob-tube teat of Fringe, you should probably start. Fringe is all about the concept of parallel universes and their intersections - in fact, as we begin this fourth season - shield your eyes, spoiler avoiders! - the two related universes that exist for Peter (Joshua Jackson) and company have just barely avoided double-annihilation, and Peter himself is nowhere to be found. Things get back to business-as-usual after the dust settles, but super-trippy multiverse weirdness definitely permeates Fringe's overall feel.
But as we all know, there's a fine line between mystery and confusion, and Fringe: The Complete Fourth Season continues to straddle that line as though it was riding a bucking bronco. The show stays steady when it keeps its eyes on the simple drama at hand - the cases undertaken by science dud Walter Bishop (John Noble) and agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) are the show's bread and butter - so even if the more flowery, existential sci-fi trips the series takes don't compel as much as they could, it's nevertheless pretty easy to forgive a show this bold and risk-taking.
Even Fringe haters have to admit that with all the Dancing With Idiots on Skates reality shows peeing in the pool of nighttime television, the idea that something with a brain in its head on the primetime schedule is irresistible. But, as was the case with Lost, I bet Fringe's comprehensive merits will only become apparent in hindsight: either it's all super-complex for a specific reason or it's just being showy. If they can mine distinct profundity with a series finale, I might be willing to call it a legitimately great show, but if they miss, prepare to hear an extensive collected hiss from fanboys around the world.