HD Feed: October 4

Fringe ends its fourth season tonight (TV2, 10.35) ahead of its postponed Blu-ray release. The set was meant to have gone on sale this month but has been rescheduled for November. Said Entertainment Weekly of the season closure: “Fringe has taken risks, repeatedly over the seasons, with the riff of bringing characters back to life, if not resurrection from final death at least reviving a spark of consciousness on the verge of flickering out. This night’s variation on that riff was a superlative one, almost Reanimator-funny except that it was also so emotional.” Concurred the LA Times: “I can honestly say it does not disappoint. It’s a conclusion that could easily have been the ending of the series, but also drums up excitement for what the fifth and final season of Fringe will bring.” Based on last week’s fifth-season premiere in the US, the New York Times declared “Fringe will continue to be the best show of its kind since The X-Files.” But it also warned: “Fox’s abrupt decision in April to do a shortened final season has necessitated storytelling leaps that are drastic even by Fringe standards … It seems likely that the show will move away completely from its weekly procedural roots, and that the story may start to feel rushed. It’s also likely that the threads we care about will be tied up and most of our questions satisfactorily answered.”

CNET has judged Panasonic’s U series to be the best of the cheap Full HD plasmas on the market. “The U50 is simply a phenomenal value considering its excellent picture quality.” But if you want Smart TV features and 3D, CNET recommends Samsung’s E550 series. For overall value, however, the prize went to Panasonic’s UT series: “If your budget can’t quite stretch to the Editors’ Choice Panasonic ST50, the UT50 is almost as good, with a great feature set and superb theatre-room performance.” In NZ, the UT50 typically sells for about $1500 compared to $1700 for Samsung’s E550 .

Don’t rush to buy that new PS3, Xbox or Wii console just yet. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, “Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are set to do retail battle this Christmas shopping season, which is good news for everybody, regardless of which video game console you plan to put under the tree … All of these announcements add up to a serious price war being fought at multiple price points, and regardless of who sells the most units, the real winner is the Aussie consumer. The title of Australia’s cheapest game console is now a tie between the original Wii and the base model Xbox 360. In the medium range, we will see Xbox and PS3 going toe-to-toe, with the brand new Wii U temptingly priced only $50 above them.”

After looking as if it was going belly-up, Underbelly: Badness recovered on Wednesday to post some of its highest ratings yet. It averaged 6.6% – 7.3% of the key demos to easily out-rate TV One’s re-run of its HD crime drama, Criminal Minds (3.2% – 5.3%), but still lost to TV2’s HD comedies, Anger Management (9.9% – 10.6%) and Cougar Town (7.4% – 9.7%). But while Underbelly’s audience climbed over the hour, Cougar Town’s declined over its half-hour. Underbelly’s spike in popularity also proved a ratings fillip for HD lead-out The Killing, which averaged 4.3% – 4.7% — although its viewership halved over the hour. TV One’s HD newcomer, Is Modern Medicine Killing You?, averaged only 3.6% – 6.2% for its debut while The Ridges averaged a steady 4.4% – 6.1%. In its new, late-night slot, Harry’s Law averaged 0.5% – 1.1% opposite Nikita’s 1.9% – 2.1%.

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