'Fringe': Weird science meets good chemistry

The first season of Fringe, created by J.J. Abrams, was a combination of The X-Files and Alias, another Abrams series. The title comes from fringe sciences, which deal with paranormal or far-out quantum physics ideas, such as parallel universes.

Anna Torv plays no-nonsense FBI special agent Olivia Dunham, who's in charge of investigating the Pattern, a series of unexplained and often horrifying events throughout the world. (Give the series credit for coming up with bizarre ways to kill people.) She is aided by Walter Bishop (John Noble of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), a beyond-brilliant scientist who was released from a psychiatric prison to help. In order to help with Walter's many eccentricities and sometimes translate his scientific babblings, his son, Peter (Joshua Jackson of Dawson's Creek) — an MIT dropout who has sometimes used his smarts on the wrong side of the law — is recruited.

Torv makes a likable heroine. She's grittier and less glamorous than Jennifer Garner in Alias, but her solidness is its own attraction.

Jackson's Peter gives the series a bit of lightness. Noble's Walter can be amusing in his weirdness, but the threats are often the result of research he did when he was younger. Over the season, they developed a nice chemistry, which makes the series relatively easy to get into even with all the jargon and the global conspiracy. And Leonard Nimoy appeared in the season finale as the mysterious William Bell, head of Massive Dynamics. He'll be back when the show returns Thursday.

Fringe: The Complete First Season retails for $59.98 and $79.98 on Blu-ray.