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Still happy living on the ‘Fringe’

We know we’re in the minority, but if there’s one fanboy-courting, mythology-spinning J.J. Abrams show whose passing we lament, it’s not “Lost,” it’s “Fringe.” We liked the former well enough, but it could feel a little like “Gilligan’s Island” for the Comic-Con crowd sometimes, what with all the castaway infrastructure and repetitively teased non-escapes. “Fringe: The Complete Fifth and Final Season” (2012-13), by contrast, keeps the show’s continuous evolution going right to the last, making us wish that paranormal investigators Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, and John Noble could have tackled a few more cases. A series that started as an “X-Files” clone is barely recognizable in this end stretch, in a good way. It can be argued that the writers acted out of necessity when they latched onto a compelling alternate-reality story line as the show’s mid-run identity, toggling between worlds from one week to the next (and eventually splicing them). They needed to do something to stave off cancellation. But it’s all guts, creatively speaking, when season 5 chucks the status quo and shifts the action to dystopian 2036, with Peter Bishop (Jackson), partner-turned-lover Olivia Dunham (Torv), and Walter Bishop (Noble) fighting the emotionless, humanity-oppressing Observers. The show even manages to legitimize these long-lurking baddies before signing off, refining them from comic-book demigods in silly “Mad Men” get-ups to a genuinely sinister presence. Observer honcho Windmark (genre actor Michael Kopsa) and his crushed-gravel complexion will stick with us as long as the satisfying finale. Extras: Farewell featurette; Comic-Con panel; producer commentary. (Warner, $39.98; Blu-ray, $49.99; available now)


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