Does casting hint that ‘Fringe’ will be back for another year?
When a television series finds itself in the same position as “Fringe” it is normally time to start unloading characters or provide shock deaths. Not only do these help boost the ratings but when the likelihood of a renewal is grim these decisions also provide a level on closure that the series would otherwise go without.
Not “Fringe,” however.
Producers at J.J. Abrams’ bizarre science series are busy casting a new character for the series … one that will be a recurring role in the fourth season if Fox decide to back the series for another year. E! Online is reporting that the character will be for a new and inexperienced FBI agent named Emily who enter the agency in the final episode of the season.
Since returning for its third season, “Fringe” has seen a continuous erosion on the ratings. In its first episode the series snagged 5.83 million viewers and that figure has steadily dropped on a weekly basis. Its new timeslot on a Friday night hasn’t helped matters, with last week’s episode pulling in a meagre 3.64 million.
Fox has maintained that it continues to support the series regardless of the decline in viewership and news that producers are looking to add a new character that will stick around into the fourth season demonstrates a level of confidence that the series will be back.
There have been cases in the past where networks continue to produce a show with declining figures, especially if another season will push the series above the 100 episodes milestone and allow the studio to make more money in syndication rights.
No decision has been made on the future of “Fringe”.
CBS won the night with adults 18-49 and total viewers on a Friday though there might have been some local preemptions for college basketball tournaments that could cause adjustments in the finals.
CBS’s The Defenders was steady versus last week with a 1.5 adults 18-49 rating. CSI: NY was up 18% from its last original to a 2.0 adults 18-49 rating and Blue Bloods was up 11% to a 1.9 adults 18-49 rating.
Fox was second with adults 18-49 for the night as Kitchen Nightmares won the hour with a 1.7 rating. Fringe was steady with a 1.5 adults 18-49 rating.
NBC and ABC tied for third with adults 18-49 for the night with a mix of unscripted programming and news coverage in the aftermath of the major earthquake off the coast of Japan.
I’m pretty sure next week we’ll have an increase, since Anna is playing William Bell.
On Fringe this week, Alan Ruck joined the succession of initially-well-intentioned scientists in this series who end up breaking the law or causing a tragedy. Aside from Walter Bishop and William Bell, the original Fringe outlaw-science-guys, foremost among them was Peter Weller’s Alistair Peck in the all-time top-10 episode “White Tulip.” In this episode, titled “Os” — it referred to the chemical element osmium, twice as dense as lead — Ruck sported a soup-strainer moustache and hoped to find a way to enable his paralyzed son to rise from his wheelchair.
But first a word from our cameo-role sponsor: Jorge Garcia got himself sprung from Mr. Sunshine long enough to appear as Kevin the Massive Dynamic security guard, alternating bong-hits with Walter, Cream’s “Strange Brew” playing in the background. The latter man was depressed: Since becoming the boss, the most Walter has accomplished, he confided to Hurley — I mean, Kevin — was a new cupcake-frosting flavor, bacon-berry. But gazing at the bank of security cameras, he discovered William Bell’s old office (naughty Nina had never shown him this, of course). This set the episode spinning off, away from Garcia. (His character, we were told, had worked for Bell for “a long time,” and as of this episode, he’s still working there, so we can’t rule out more appearances. I also wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for them, either.)
Ruck’s plot involved him injecting young men paralyzed from the waist down with a hybrid of osmium and lutetium, heavy metals that produced an unbearable lightness of being: So unbearable his patients were dying, only to serve as cadavers to be further experimented upon. The parallels to the scientist and his son, and to Walter and Peter, may have been heavy-handed, but Ruck played everything with a sustained, understated touch.
Peter and Olivia spent a lot of time billing and cooing. It was sweet, they’ve earned it, but even better-earned was Peter’s “full disclosure” to her that he’d been fibbing and keeping secrets. He revealed a little office crammed with all his research into the perhaps-not-doomsday machine, as well as everything he knows about the shape-shifters, the Observers, and doubtless numerous dog-eared copies of The First People and the ZFT manifesto.
The pinch-me moment of the night was saved for last. After much howling from Walter about “soul magnets” and his needing to be in contact with Bell, whose soul was “energy” that needed a “vessel” to manifest itself, who did Bell choose to speak through but Olivia. This was a clever development, to be sure; the even more clever decision on the part of everyone involved was to have Anna Torv imitate the voice of Leonard Nimoy, instead of doing the obvious thing and have her lip-synch Nimoy reading the lines. It’s no wonder Torv’s name went a-Twitter trending sky-high after the episode concluded: This was the internet version of an instant Emmy.
What did you think of “Os,” Jorge Garcia’s cameo, and the final Olivia/Bell twist? Do we call the new hybrid Bellivia?
• Walter was in bed with Yoko, and John didn’t object: “It was the ’70s; what could he say?” Where was Annie Liebovitz when we needed her? Next thing you know, we’ll hear that Walter was the one who handed Lennon the Kotex pad at the Troubadour the night John and Harry Nilsson raised such a ruckus…
Tonight’s episode 3×15 Os was really good, until the last 5 minutes where it was just AMAZING. I really can’t wait for next week! I’ll have caps from tonight soon, and here is a preview of next week:
Quoting this for emphasis cause I just loved it: “And, by the way, Peter and Olivia are in love in a manner that’s so glowing with passion yet so challenged by emotional roadblocks thrown in their way, they make Romeo and Juliet look like Phil and Claire Dunphy”
The bonds of family, the ecstasy of romance, the exhilaration of intellectual inquiry, and a secret government agency working to protect you from all kinds of crazy, weird stuff. If I told you there was a TV series featuring all of that, plus great acting and superb action sequences, wouldn’t you want to watch that?
Sure you would. And people who are watching Fringe now know it’s doing something rare: It’s a TV show working on all levels, characters with which anyone can identify, imaginative scripts, crackling dialogue, and a positive message (boiled-down: All you need is love). It’s the kind of show that, every time you finish watching the latest installment, you want to see its next episode right now.
A new episode of Fringe, titled “Os,” airs tonight, and as I explain and exhort in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on sale today, you’re making a mistake if you miss it.
But if you’re not watching Fringe – and in case you haven’t figured it out yet, this is a passionate please-save-Fringe plea to you and to the dear, intelligent, how-much-flattery-do-you-need folks at Fox — here’s what I suggest: Forget everything you’ve heard about Fringe. Banish the notion that you’ll be confused by the serialized nature of its storytelling, that it’s too deep into its mythology for you to catch up. It’s not.
Because like the best TV, Fringe works on a number of levels, and one level is, it’s highly entertaining, accessible stuff. All you really need to know about Anna Torv’s Olivia Dunham and Josh Jackson’s Peter Bishop is that they’re brave investigators for the FBI’s Fringe Division, seeking to solve the mysteries of our world, which may be in jeopardy from another, alternate version of our world. And, by the way, Peter and Olivia are in love in a manner that’s so glowing with passion yet so challenged by emotional roadblocks thrown in their way, they make Romeo and Juliet look like Phil and Claire Dunphy.
And all you really need to know about John Noble’s Walter Bishop is that he’s a brilliant scientists who’s also emotionally fragile, playfully eccentric, and a junk-food junkie (it’s unlikely any other genius has referred to Pop Tarts as “delicious strawberry-flavored death”). Oh, and by the way, Noble deserves an Emmy for his extraordinarily delicate, wide-ranging performances.
At its big, red, throbbing heart, the show tells the story of a love so powerful, it crosses universes: When Peter was seven, he died. His brilliant-scientist father, Walter, having discovered that there was a parallel universe containing doubles of everyone here, transported himself to that Other Side and brought back that universe’s Peter, to love and to cherish. In doing so, he created not just a rift in the universes (which are now dangerously, explosively out of balance), but also a rift between father and son (when Peter discovered who he really was, and grappled with the idea that he belonged to another Walter, a “Walternate”).
This is the bare-bones version of Fringe, which is creatively capacious enough to also take in the dual nature that resides in every one of us; arcane conspiracy theories that end up as eerie realities; and the over-arching idea held by every regular reader of Entertainment Weekly that we can experience everything – politics, art, philosophy, and cures for loneliness — through the culture around us.
From The Twilight Zone to Battlestar Galactica, the sci-fi/fantasy genre has been downbeat, dystopian, pessimistic, and bleak. In that context, who can blame viewers leery of Fringe, after seeing all those Fox promos in which the heroes yelp variations on “Our whole universe may end!”? We get enough of that kind of message on other channels, like Fox News and MSNBC. Successful, hit TV shows, all hits of any pop-culture kind, have one thing in common: Reassurance. They make you feel that, when you get up off the sofa, you’ve not only been entertained and, at best, mentally stimulated, but you’ve also been assured that life goes on and the future is sustainable.
This positive, utopian, optimistic message is the one Fringe delivers; it’s just that it comes wrapped in a package that some people have too quickly pigeonholed as “dark,” “gritty,” “complicated,” and “it might make my head hurt.”
I’m not going to guilt-trip you and say that if you don’t watch Fringe, you’re helping to create an atmosphere in which daring new shows won’t make it onto future network schedules. Instead, I’ll be sad that you’re not sharing in what could be the best puzzle-pieced epic since Lost, and the best portrait of a fractious family since Frasier, or M*A*S*H. Because right now, Fringe is promising you nothing less than the world – two of ’em, in fact.
Why do you think Fringe isn’t more popular? Will you be watching it?
AFTER a week off, Fox’s “Fringe” (9 p.m. Fridays) returns tomorrow, and if you’re still hoping to see how this particular war of the worlds turns out – or just how the story of Olivia (Anna Torv) and Peter (Joshua Jackson) does – you need to think about it watching it in real time.
And, OK, if possible, as part of a Nielsen family. Yes, and in this universe, the only one that currently matters to the people calling the shots for next season, who also aren’t as interested in Hulu and what you have on your DVR as you might be.
As “Fringe” continues to balance on that rickety fence between cancellation and a fourth season, I’ve been thinking about what J.J. Abrams, one of the show’s creators, had to say about endings when I asked him, at a Fox party in January, what he thought it would take to wrap things up.
“Having an end date on a series is actually a wonderful thing, but no one wants the end date to come too early,” said Abrams, who also co-created “Lost” (if not its still-controversial ending).
“I would argue that the show deserves to, you know, go on beyond Season 3. But if they did say we have to end the show at the end of Season 4, I would rather know that and then work our asses off to satisfy that story than to be told in a month it’s going to be at the end of Season 3. I would argue there’s no way to wrap it up in a truly satisfying way” this season.
“What I know is that the stories that [showrunners Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman] are thinking go beyond Season 4, but that’s not to say that if bad news came, that Season 4 was it,” that it couldn’t be done, said Abrams, who wasn’t happy about the move to Fridays but was satisfied that “Fringe” had remained true to itself.
The show is “about a woman who was experimented on when she was a kid, it is about a man who might not have come from here, it is about a father who is holding incredible secrets. . . . These are things that we talked about at the very beginning of the show. To not embrace that means that we will fail on other people’s terms. So if we’re going to fail, let’s go out having done the most bad-ass, weirdest, interesting, sophisticated version of a series that we can possibly do,” he said.
I’d certainly like to see that story through to some conclusion, and one that wasn’t slapped together at the last minute. If you would, too, think about staying in – or going out a bit later – tomorrow night.
John Noble says the future of Fox’s quirky drama Fringe is secure and it’ll likely be renewed for a fourth season. The actor plays Walter Bishop on the series alongside Joshua Jackson and Anna Torv. His prediction Fringe will likely be renewed somewhat contradicts Joshua Jackson’s comments a few weeks ago saying fans would have to start campaigning now if they wanted to see Fringe renewed.
“We’ve not only maintained our viewership we’ve exceeded it. Based on those figures, I think we should be fairly safe. Unless Kevin breaks his word, and I don’t think he will.” – John Noble at the Emerald City Comicon.
The actor was referring to Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly who has previously stated Fringe would have to maintain its ratings if it was to be renewed. Fox moved Fringe from Thursday evenings to Friday evenings in January; to the widely hated ‘graveyard slot’. It’s fortunes on Friday evenings have been mixed; it started well with steady ratings before dropping but then ratings rose again. It is decidedly unclear if Fringe will be renewed or not.