Today’s TV Addict Top 5: Question with FRINGE Showrunners Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman

Just how explosive is tonight’s episode and is it at all accessible for new viewers who may be hesitant to jump on the bandwagon this far into the series?
Jeff Pinkner: Actually if the only episode of FRINGE you ever tune into watch is this one — sure it’s going to take you five minutes to sort of catch up — but you will feel what’s going on. It’s a great entry point and you will understand the relationships. The truth is the one right afterwards, which is the falling out of this episode and sort of the picking up the pieces episode, is equally a great place to join both because it’s a reset episode. Olivia will be home and sort of like dealing with the consequences. It’s Rip Van Winkle dealing with the consequences of everything that she missed. Both of these episodes are actually a great place to join in.

As a storyteller, you hope, we hope, that people watch these episodes and if they’re new to the show watch these episodes and go, “Oh wow let me start going back and seeing what I missed.” The good news is in today’s world there’s Hulu and things like that on demand were you can catch up pretty quickly.

What’s the mood about moving to Fridays, are you guys excited about it?
J.H. Wyman: We are excited. We think it’s open territory that can be conquered. We really do believe our fans are loyal and that they’re going to follow. It’s a chance for us to sort of bring back that … and get away from that statement that Friday night is not an opportune night though we can actually deliver like THE X-FILES did, or something like that. I think we both agree it’s a good opportunity.

J. Pinkner: Well when FOX informed us of the move, what was most important to us is we understand that our audience is watching the show not sort of like a standalone audience watches the show, but their actually watching it as an investment over time. We wanted to be able to tell our audience that the story, the ongoing, the long arching story that we have planned for our characters, is going to get told. It’s funny there are more Fringe fans in the building at Fox then sort of like any show we’ve ever worked on before. I think they and we all feel that if we can build a fan base on and sort of like carve out some territory on Friday night we can be there for years.

What can you tease about what’s in store for fans when FRINGE returns in January of 2011?
J. Pinkner: Well the first half of the session was sort of like the condition of Olivia being trapped on the other side over there and Bolivia being among our characters. Now with this episode we’re sort of—the remainder of this season, I don’t know how much we want to spoil, but this episode sort of like brings the first half of the year to an end. Then the rest of the year will be the consequences and the fall out of what happened both emotionally and plot wise for all our characters. As we’ve said from the beginning, like we’re committed to telling stories over there and the first half of the season will dramatically change the conditions over there as well. Once Olivia returns to our side, the storytelling’s not just going to be contained on our side.

J.H. Wyman: Yes, I mean we’re going to sort of like come to a crescendo using both sides.

Would it be fair to say that questions, such as the endgame in terms of “the machine” will be answered?
J.H. Wyman: We don’t want to drive things out and make people frustrated with what that machine is and what it means to the series and the characters themselves. By the end of the session you’re going to fully understand what that machine is and what it’s purpose is. What it’s for. Meaning for this universe and that universe and what it means to our characters. We definitely are going to have some sort of resolution.

And finally, not to harp on this point, but shows that get moved to Friday on Fox don’t exactly have the best track record in terms of survival. Could you just sort of say a few words to the fans of the show to sort of reassure them that the show is not pending cancellation?
J.H. Wyman: Yes, we have a tremendous amount of support from FOX. Like on the inside of this job, you really know when people are starting to disengage and this is not the case. I think that the naysayers are always going to be there and they said the same thing about our Thursday night move, “Oh they’re going to be gone in half a season,” and that wasn’t the case either. FOX said, “We’re going to support you on Thursday nights, and we’re going to try and get a little bit of a foothold and have Thursday nights taken seriously for us,” and they lived up to that commitment.

A lot of times sure shows that move to this time slot they don’t last, but I think that has more to do with the quality of the television show and how it’s doing then it is a market. I mean if we learned anything from Thursday nights, what we learned was our DVR numbers are so high and the improvement is so great that we realize that our fans, they’re watching the show. They’re just telling us, “We didn’t want to watch it on Thursdays. We’ll tell you when we want to watch it through the DVR.” Thursday night is traditionally a romantic comedy night with the BONES and GREY’S ANATOMY. It was always a place for us that was— We were assured we were going to be safe and not be taken off the air in that context and they lived up to it.

So yes to the fan, we experience a great amount of support all through the building with Fox. We feel like we have true partners. The landscape is changing so much on network television who knows what Friday nights are going to be. We’re going in there with 100% confidence.

J. Pinkner: But what’s ironic is when we moved to Thursday nights, and for the last year all the message boards have been, “Please move the show off of Thursday nights,” and now that they did. So it’s sort of one of those from the fans point of view being careful what you wish for, but as Joel said Fox and Warner Brothers are very happy with this move. We can only follow their lead. Again, from the inside, you know when you’re losing support with your network and studio partners and for us it’s been just the opposite, as evidenced by the support for this episode.

We wouldn’t be doing this call right now if the move to Friday night were sort of like, “Hey this is the beginning of the end and we’re sort of just moving you there to die.” The truth is the opposite and you would hear it in our voices. The truth is the opposite and the good news is our show sort of, as Joel was saying, developed a devoted rabid fan base. Our critical praise has never been higher and our fan support has never been more passionate. If we can translate that to Friday nights, which has much lower expectations, as we said, we’ll be around for a good long time and we have stories to tell.

FRINGE airs Thursdays on FOX at 9PM (CityTV in Canada)

For all the latest TV news and reviews

  • Jenni Lou


  • Sourabh Shetty

    This season so far felt like a good solid Thursday show.

  • Brian

    With DVRs so commonplace I don’t think what night a show comes on is all that releavent anymore. People can watch it whenever they want to these days, and I rarely watch anything live anymore.

  • Sourabh Shetty

    Instead of making a spinoff for Bones, how about one for Fringe? One set in the other universe? Their Fringe team? They could be next Buffy/Angel combo.

  • Anjali Agarwal

    I want this show for a couple more seasons. It’s just brilliant storytelling and acting!!!

  • Lucy

    I trust JH Wyman & Jeff Pinkner. So fair they haven’t failed me. Fringe’s been awesome.

  • João Paulo

    Great man good interview