At the Television Critics Association winter press tour, Fox execs asked reporters not to write off Fringe just yet. Moving the show to the Friday night "death slot" makes us afraid that the show will die the death of Firefly or Dollhouse. And no one's more scared than series creator J.J. Abrams.
"My first reaction was 'Shhhh*t!' followed almost immediately by 'Thank you, Fox,'" Abrams said to a group of reporters on Jan. 11 in Pasadena, Calif. "Because the truth is, we're talking about the third season of Fringe, a show other networks might not have given that kind of chance and support. What I'm hopeful for is that the viewers of Fringe, to whom I'm incredibly grateful, will continue to tune in, despite the move to a night that is typically known as 'death slot.'"
If there's anything good about moving Fringe to Fridays, it may be that the show can do whatever it wants there. Abrams says the show runners have gotten more freedom to tell the story now that they're facing the more difficult timeslot.
"Maybe it's because we moved to Fridays that the network's been more lenient in allowing us to do some stuff we might not have been able to do on Thursday nights," Abrams said. "The show is firing on all cylinders. I just hope that viewers will come to a show that, while I'm biased, in my heart I believe deserves an audience. Obviously I would be a complete liar if I said I was really excited about moving to Friday. What I'll say is we are here talking at a TCA [press tour] about the second half of the third season of Fringe, which is definitely a show, despite top 10 lists and accolades and awards, which is wonderful, it is a show that has a very niche audience. I'm insanely grateful to the network for supporting it, for allowing it to live."
Viewers do need to support Fringe, though, because the Friday night ratings will determine whether Fox picks up a fourth season. You'll want to see the fourth season too, because Abrams doubts they could throw together a satisfying series conclusion, even if they're told the third-season finale will be the last.
"I'd be hard pressed to know how to actually resolve the series," Abrams said. "My fingers are crossed that we not have to end the show this season."
Coming up this year, some cool Fringe episodes will reward devoted viewers who have been with it since the beginning. "There are some stories that call back episodes from the first season in ways that just will blow your mind. You don't need to have watched every episode to understand what's going on, but if you watched the show in the beginning, it's really kind of a wonderful thing."
More season-three stories include: "We'll be returning to 1985. The story of the war that's brewing, the machine that may or may not allow it to happen, how to activate that machine, Walternate ... there are stories that, not only are they exciting, brilliant, suspenseful and fun, but it's just one of those things where you know a show is creatively working when the writers are not only telling stories but using their own invention to bolster and further ideas and character."
Fringe returns Jan. 21 on Fox.