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Still happy living on the ‘Fringe’

Fringe: The Complete Fifth & Final Season

Cate Cameron/Warner Bros.

“Fringe: The Complete Fifth & Final Season”

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)

HORROR

MAMA (2013)

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Director Andy Muschietti’s supernatural thriller imagines one out-there feral children scenario, wondering what if abandoned kids were watched over by an angry ghost. Jessica Chastain does nuanced work as the rock chick put in charge of young sisters found after being missing in the mountains for five years. The frustration, though, is how much the movie leans on made-ya-jump scares and contrived plot devices when its quieter chills and already fraught setups are so potent. Extras: Guillermo del Toro introduces Muschietti’s original “Mama” short, a lean effort that understandably sold del Toro on producing a feature version. (Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.98; available now)

THRILLER

JACK REACHER (2012)

Tom Cruise gets tough as a criminal investigator whose off-the-grid approach is just the thing for tackling a twisty sniper case — and dispensing vigilante justice. This being Cruise, there’s a dependable slickness to the action. At the same time, he’s asked to spout hard-case dialogue that just doesn’t sound right coming from his mouth. (It’s not a Lestat stretch, but it’s close.) And after recent events, the random-shootings opener is rougher viewing than intended. Extras: On Blu-ray, commentary by Cruise and filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie (writer of “The Usual Suspects”); interview with Reacher’s creator, British crime novelist Lee Child. (Paramount, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99; available now)

Tom Russo can be reached at trusso2222@gmail.com.
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