Reviews: The Simpsons Season Five and Fringe Season One

We take a look at two shows we’ve recently been utterly consumed by; one a widely-loved comedy classic and the other an up-and-coming sci-fi hit.

The Simpsons Season Five DVD box set

This is the peak, the absolute pinnacle of one of the greatest television shows ever produced. Sure, it might have declined in recent years (and not-so-recent; the last good season was nearly a decade ago) but The Simpsons was animated comedy perfection for most of the nineties. Season five features some of the all-time best episodes, including ‘Cape Feare’ (featuring the infamous Sideshow Bob-rake bit), ‘Bart Gets An Elephant’ (“Hey, they’re playing the elephant song.” “I love that song. Reminds me of elephants.”), ‘Homer The Vigilante’ and countless others. All 22 epiodes are accompanied by Audio Commentaries. The participants range from producers, to writers, to actors and animators. All are interesting, all offer something extra, all are fascinating for fans of television and how it is made. This, along with seasons 3, 4, 6 and 7, is a must-own DVD box set.

Fringe Season One

This J.J. Abrams-produced sci-fi procedural has an outline that sounds suspiciously like an X-Files clone, but Fringe – at this stage, at least – is a vast improvement over Mulder and Scully’s eerie adventures. FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Australian Anna Torv) is our protagonist, a no-nonsense young woman slowly drawn into a web of intrigue, experimentation and biological warfare. Utilising the assistance of mad scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his rebellious, jet-setting son Peter (The Mighty Ducks’ Joshua Jackson) and her colleagues in the Bureau – Charlie Frances (played by Oz’s Kirk Acevedo) and bossman Phillip Broyles (played by Lost & Oz’s Lance Reddick) – Dunham solves crimes which, due to their bizarre nature, fall outside the regular jurisdiction of the FBI.

This is a science fiction drama which does creepy really well, but manages to include enough character-driven humour to make watching the show a generally fun experience. The shows are sometimes self-contained Freak Of The Week episodes, sometimes general mythology-advancing episodes, and as the season proceeds more of the show’s wider storyline is revealed. Don’t despair, though – unlike Abrams’ other sci-fi hit Lost, Fringe actually advances the plot and reveals a fair amount of information early on.  The characters are fantastic, too; Walter Bishop, portrayed with an effervescent insanity by John Noble, is the most entertaining character I’ve seen on television in a long time. He’s not just a caricature, though. And that’s the strength of this show; everyone and everything – from the scientific explanations for odd happenings to the overall plot to each main character – has depth.

by Ben Vernel

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  1. […] Reviews: The Simpsons Season Five and Fringe Season One – Tell it, brother: This is the peak, the absolute pinnacle of one of the greatest television shows ever produced. Sure, it might have declined in recent years (and not-so-recent; the last good season was nearly a decade ago) but The Simpsons was animated comedy perfection for most of the nineties. […]

  2. […] conjunction with season 5, marked the high point of The Simpsons. Season 5  (previously reviewed here) featured some of The Simpsons’ greatest episodes but Season 6 is the most consistently […]

  3. […] conjunction with season 5, marked the high point of The Simpsons. Season 5  (previously reviewed here) featured some of The Simpsons’ greatest episodes but Season 6 is the most consistently […]



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