Happy Easter, “Fringe” fans. It’s that time of year when lapsed Christians like myself dig up the Google Map directions to that church we went to for Christmas. Then home for chocolate and ham.
“Fringe” is here to help get you in the Easter spirit with the most religious episode to date. There’s always been some Christian themes in “Fringe.” Mostly the looming reality that Peter, the son, may have to sacrifice himself for mankind. “6:02 AM EST” also gives a swarm of locusts, shepherds and Walter’s conversation with God. More religion than you can shake a stick at. A stick that will fall to the ground and become a snake.
6:02 AM EST refers to the moment Walternate activated the other universe’s version of the device. With the chromosomes AlterBrandon and Department of Defense scientists over there managed to pull from Fauxlivia and Peter’s child, they’ve started up the machine that will supposedly destroy one universe to save the other. This is what we’ve been building to all through Season Three. The wheels are in motion. Sure they’re taking a little time to get warmed up, but they’re moving.
Walternate starts the device with a heavy heart. AlterBrandon is all but giddy to be doing his part to help annihilate our universe to end the war we don’t know we’re having. Walternate thinks more of Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb who lived with the nightmares of those he killed in order to stop a war. Walternate even points out that Oppenheimer compared himself to the destroyer of worlds, but he’s going to actually do it.
Back in this universe, our device also clicks on when Walternate starts his. At the same time, weak points in the fabric of reality are starting to tear. Entire flocks of sheep and the men tending them are wiped out in a flash, vegetation is destroyed, Walter’s talking about mushrooms while naked. Well, that last one might not be a product of the device, but it is just as scary.
As the machine builds up steam to do whatever it is that it does, the characters move into their places to charge into this season’s finale.
Walter begins to understand why the Observer tested him earlier this year. “Give him the keys. Let him save the girl.” The Observer’s cryptic words weren’t simply instructions for the moment, they were telling Walter a larger truth. All the problems between the two universes sprung from Walter’s inability to let Peter go. He couldn’t allow the alternate universe Peter die like his son had, so he stepped over and kidnapped him. In order to undo the mess, Peter might have to get into the device and try to stop it. Whatever it does, the drawings of Peter with light bursting out of his eyes and mouth don’t make it look like it plays out very well for him.
While Peter and Walter bond over a drink, Olivia takes charge of the investigation. First thing she does is pick her brain for alternate universe Fringe Division info to put together early warning signals for potential, then she jumps on the train for anyone who knows about the device. Luckily she’s already met the man who seems to know more than anyone else: Sam Weiss. Sam got a haircut since we last saw him and he explained to Nina that whichever Olivia Peter loved would determine which universe got saved. Though now he’s vanished, because Nina Sharp spilled the beans on his connection to William Bell and because his executive desk toy started hammering out a funky rhythm. While Olivia searches through his apartment and the one bottle of cologne sitting on the fireplace, Sam’s out where the universe is falling apart, taking notes.
Even Fauxlivia is gearing up for the finale. It’s now been three weeks since she gave birth to the speedily developed Henry Bishop, named after the kind taxi driver who helped deliver him and helped the real Olivia escape their universe. When their Fringe Division gets a Level 10 Fringe alert, they go running to the source at the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense turns them away, which only makes Olivia more suspicious that they started their device, which she confirms in a face-to-face with Walternate.
Fauxlivia decides she needs to bring Peter back and show Walternate that neither universe needs to be destroyed. She makes a strong attempt to break on through to the other side, only to end up locked up through all the festivities. Somehow I doubt she’ll stay there long.
This was a movement episode. “Lost” used to have them every season right before the finale. They give an opportunity to get everyone into place for the big climax. In true “Fringe” fashion, they managed to slip in a little extra emotion as well. Now that everyone is where they need to be, we’re ready to charge in to the last two episodes. Show runner Jeff Pinkner let slip in a conference call last week that before the season ends, somebody we love deeply is going to die. With “Fringe,” that could be any of a bunch of great characters.
Misdirection -– Twice Friday night “Fringe” got me with a little sleight of hand. The first was Fauxlivia’s siege on the Department of Defense. She broke in, took AlterBrandon hostage and stole two cylinders that could transport people between universes (or rip their atoms apart). Then, right when she’s about to be captured, she activates the cylinder and … nothing. A dud.
The second, of course, was the beautifully executed moment when Peter touches the device. There had been such an emotional buildup to the moment. Peter had said goodbye to everyone, like Dorothy about to fly away with the Wizard of Oz. Then he climbs on the rising/extending platform that takes him right up to this frightening machine. (Do you think they built that just for the device, or do they have those sitting around for all their rising/extending needs?) When he reaches out to touch it, zap. Peter goes flying. “Fringe” got me there. I never would have expected that.
Astrid Action –- Astrid got to give one of those all-time great action movie likes. Right up there with “I’m getting to old for this [expletive]” or “that’s just crazy enough to work.” When Peter tried to give her a message to pass on to Olivia, Astrid said he could tell her himself when he gets back. She also got a good emotional moment, too, when she dove in for the hug. That’s how versatile Astrid is.
Spot the Observer – Did you see the Observer stroll by in the background while Fauxlivia pushed Henry in the park? For a second I thought he was walking on the edge of the fountain, goofing off. At this point, I could see if the Observer isn’t as concerned with hiding. There’s so much going on in both universes, no one is going to notice him. Maybe next week he’ll ride past on one of those penny-farthing bicycles with the big front wheel they still ride in the other universe (and they think they’re so advanced).
Thirty two shows, but only one winner. It was a long, arduous road, but Fringe emerged victorious in the inaugural BuzzFocus.com TV Spring Madness Competition.
Probably feeling a fire in their belly from the show’s recent Season 4 renewal, Fringe fans pulled together to beat the socks off of their championship round contender, Dexter.
Fringe started out the competition in a not-so-close battle with fellow sci-fi show V. It won that competition with 70 percent of the vote.
In the second round, Fringe faced off against Sons of Anarchy and won what would turn out to be its closest battle with 53 percent of the vote.
It was back against a sci-fi opponent in Round 3 as it bested Supernatural with 54 percent of the vote.
From there, Fringe never looked back. Modern Family proved to be a weak matchup as it only garnered 28 percent of the vote.
Despite it’s impressive run, Fringe seemed to be the underdog coming in the Championship round against cable juggernaut Dexter. But alas, the final was a snoozefest as Dexter scared up only 12 percent of the vote. Congratulations are in order for the fans of Fringe, who mounted successful Twitter campaigns to make sure the Fox show came out on top! The question is, can they repeat next year?
Roberta from LeonardoDiCaprioFan.com has sent those pictures.
I replaced the spoilery thumbs with a spoiler alert pic, so, be warned!
Some new stills from last week’s episode:
***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***
Fringe producer Jeff Pinkner has claimed that the show’s third run “comes full circle” in the upcoming season finale.
He told IGN that ‘The Day We Died’ will link back to the season’s early episodes, which saw Olivia (Anna Torv) replaced by her doppelganger Fauxlivia.
“Very much, the season was designed as a chapter and it will play out that way,” he claimed. “And the very end of the season hopefully will make you sort of revisit and look at everything that’s happened all year through a fresh pair of glasses.”
Pinkner also revealed that the script for the finale had not been altered following the news of the show’s renewal.
“Not a word [has changed],” he insisted. “But to be fair, we wrote the episode, perhaps foolishly, assuming that we would be on for season four. We never for one second entertained that [the season finale] would be the end of the series.”
The showrunner added that he would “certainly hope” to be given notice when the time does come for Fringe to end.
“The studio and the network know that we have an ending [in mind] and that for a long time we have been building towards [that] ending,” he said. “So we anticipate getting to tell the story in the way and the manner that we want to.”
Fringe returns to Fox on April 15. The season finale will air on May 6.
With the show officially renewed, what can we expect heading towards the season finale?
We pick up with the three of us in the midst of discussing Anna Torv and all she’s been asked to do on the show of late..
Wyman: Look at what she did with [William] Bell! It’s astounding. And we’ve got to tell you, that’s all her. She interpreted that character the way it was and for us, in our wildest dreams… It’s just transcended all our expectations.
IGN: It’s such a fun, interesting choice. When you decided Olivia would be taken over by William Bell, did you tell Anna at all, “We’d like you to act like Leonard Nimoy,” or was it not quite that specific?
Pinkner: We pitched the idea to her and as Joel said, she sort of took a silent beat and then said, “Okay… So what are you guys thinking? Are you thinking that you’ll put his voice in my mouth?” And we said, “No, no, no.” Our premise, always, is keep the show grounded. Play everything as real and as dramatically authentic as possible, from camera lens choices, to angles to set design and props and obviously performance, because the crazy only plays if everything else is real. And so we said to her, “No, no, no. He’s inside of you. But it’s his consciousness in your body.” And she said, “Oh, I think I understand. Let me play around with that.” And we’re incredibly fortunate, because our cast are actually friends and insanely dedicated to their craft and the show. And she and John [Noble] spent a Saturday practicing and sort of working out the character together, because of course Walter has a relationship with William. So the two of them worked it up on their own and presented it to us – from her arched eyebrow and the way she carries her body, to the way she controls her voice. And it’s really astounding.
One thing that is important to note is that it delights Leonard to no end! Of all of us, the one who’s the most proud and most impressed is Leonard.
With Season 4 now official, J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner chat with IGN about the big news.
Fringe fans, myself included, got some very happy news Thursday night, as word broke that the show had been renewed for Season 4. In the wake of this announcement, I spoke to Fringe’s Executive Producers/Showrunners Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman, to get their reaction.
Because I’ve already seen tonight’s new episode of Fringe, “Bloodline,” I also was able to ask Pinkner and Wyman some questions about it and what’s to come on the series in the final four episodes of the season. But since this interview is running prior to “Bloodline” airing, look for the second part of our chat next week. Which is to say, don’t worry, there aren’t any spoilers here!
IGN TV: Were you surprised to get the renewal now? I think most of us assumed that we’d be waiting until May to find out.
Jeff Pinkner: It’s funny, because FOX has been so supportive, all year long. They were supportive prior to the move to Friday night. They put the move in context. They told us very clearly what we’ve been saying to everybody: “This is not a move on the way off the schedule. This is a move to see if your audience will follow you. We’re just trying to test the loyalty of the audience, because if the same audience comes back on Friday nights, we’re in awesome shape.” And of course, the audience did. And then ever since, FOX has been very upfront that there are lots of factors that go into the timing of pickups, but, “You guys are in great shape.” And then that started to get a little bit louder and a little bit more present over the last week or two, as we started to talk about what next year would look like. And then we both received the phone call from Peter Roth at Warner Bros. yesterday, who had just gotten off the phone with [FOX President] Kevin Reilly.
(CNN) — Not so long ago, TV shows like “Firefly,” “Wonderfalls,” “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and “Dollhouse” were mourned by science fiction fans as having been canceled before their time, due — as it always is — to low ratings.
Another thing each had in common: They aired on Fox on Friday nights.
So observers of the TV world were surprised Thursday to learn of the network’s renewal of the series “Fringe” for a full fourth season after two months in a Friday timeslot.
Adding to the surprise: It was picked up in March, much earlier than many other shows with “on the bubble” status — an equal chance of cancellation or renewal — would traditionally find out their fates. (One week earlier, NBC renewed two of its “on the bubble” series with a passionate fanbase: “Community” and “Parks and Recreation.”)
Fans and many TV critics feared that the show’s cancellation was imminent when it was moved from a Thursday slot to Friday. Despite encouraging words from Fox, fans rallied support for the show on social media, and star Joshua Jackson even got involved, reminding the “Fringe” faithful not to rest on their laurels.
The show’s ratings started out on par with what they were on Thursday but then started to drop, eventually hitting a series low six days before it was renewed, which begs the question: Did fan support and other factors count for more than the show’s raw viewership?
Fox’s news release announcing the pick-up of the show, about a war between an alternate universe and our own, certainly gave the fans plenty of credit. “The series’ ingenious producers, amazingly talented cast and crew, as well as some of the most passionate and loyal fans on the planet, made this fourth-season pickup possible,” said the network’s entertainment president, Kevin Reilly.
“Ultimately, I think Fox is making a decision not based purely on ratings but based on (fan) commitment and dedication,” said Jovana Grbic, editor and creative director of ScriptPhD.com, who is contributing a chapter to an upcoming book examining the science behind the series. “This is an unprecedented level of support for a show with a small but dedicated fanbase, something that sci-fi in particular has had a very difficult time attaining on network television.”
Dennis Acevedo, creator of FringeTelevision.com, attributes it to DVR viewing, especially considering its current timeslot. “It consistently ranks as one of the highest shows in DVR viewing,” he said. “And people who like it really like it.”
Acevedo quoted a recent interview on TheDailyBeast.com in which Executive Producer Joel Wyman said, “Not everybody likes licorice, but people who like licorice really like licorice. We’re happy being that.”
But is being “licorice” really all it takes to make a show successful today?
” ‘Fringe’s’ ratings looked very decent for a Friday,” said Robert Seidman, who follows TV viewership very closely as co-founder of TVBytheNumbers.com and found the renewal’s timing “a little odd.”
“The ratings that matter most are ones nobody sees, the ‘C3’ rating that measure commercial viewing live plus three days of DVR viewing,” he said. “All that DVR viewing is great for Fox’s PR department, but it doesn’t add much extra advertising revenue.”
Indeed, the anonymous Twitter user who claims to work for Fox, known as the Masked Scheduler, recently tweeted about an improvement in “Fringe’s” ratings the night after its renewal: “Supporting shows by viewing live helps more than u know.”
Another possible factor: Science fiction shows typically bring in audiences with higher household incomes. “Seeing that kind of data was what got me interested in doing the website to begin with,” Seidman said. “However, that data does not flow freely at all.”
So, despite the advent of DVRs and full episodes streaming online, have there been any other major changes since the days of “Firefly” that would add more weight to the passion of a show’s fanbase?
“There are now more people watching cable instead of broadcast. The broadcast ratings are lower now than they were when ‘Firefly’ was on,” Seidman said, meaning that some shows do, in fact, stay on the air with ratings that might have gotten them canceled in years past.
As for whether fan efforts can consistently make the difference between cancellation and renewal — in the way it seemed for shows like “Chuck” and “Jericho” in the past — Seidman said, “It can’t hurt, but I’m not really sold on that. I am sold to some degree: Fans’ passion about a show does register with the networks. But I don’t think that’s enough to save a show if the ratings aren’t any good.”
No matter the reason, fans understand just how fortunate they are to have the show last this long.
“As a sci-fi fan, expert and writer, the renewal and network backing pleases me because it sends a message to writers and developers of future science fiction television that there is a place for intricate, intelligent shows with a multilayered plot on network television, that the risks are worth taking, and that networks are beginning to recognize the value of the niche as a fan base,” Grbic said.
“I think Fringe is just a really unique situation. It’s been this experimental show at Fox since the beginning,” Acevedo said. “And so far, it’s gotten through everything thrown at it.”
Fringe was treated to a little icing on its Season 4 renewal cake this Friday, in the form of a 15 percent gain in the coveted 18-49 demo (returning to a 1.5 rating). The Fox drama also saw a small uptick in total audience, to 3.9 million viewers. (What did you think of the white-knuckle ride that was last night’s episode?!)
Elsewhere… well, there’s not much else to see here. But let’s try, shall we?
* CBS’ coverage of the NCAA basketball tourney enjoyed the night’s best demos (2.7) and averaged just over 8 million viewers, peaking at 10 o’clock with north of 10 mil.
* Dateline NBC was Friday’s most watched program, averaging 8.11 million viewers over its two-hour run.
* And ABC’s Shark Tank officially opened its new season with 4.8 million viewers and a fourth place-worthy 1.2 rating.
< /excited trumpeting>