The future of Fringe on Fox has been in question for the past several seasons as ratings have declined and operating expenses have creeped up. The current fourth season returns this Friday, and now more than ever, the likelihood of it being the last is staring the show’s cast, crew and fans in the face.
In speaking with the media at the Television Critics Association press conference over the weekend, Fox chief Kevin Reilly spoke fondly of the J.J. Abrams-produced show that has a small but passionate fan base. He said the show has “vastly improved our Friday night,” and called the show a “point of pride” for the network.
At the same time, Reilly warned about the show’s success – or lack thereof – from a business perspective. He admitted Fringe loses “a lot” of money and is expensive to produce. With its current ratings, under 3 million total viewers per episode before the winter hiatus, it’s “almost impossible” for them to make money in the future.
Despite these remarks, I have to imagine Reilly is truly passionate about keeping Fringe around. Apart from praising the show’s creative success and its fans, he ended his remarks by putting the ball in studio Warner Bros. court, almost as if to remind them that a new deal might make the show profitable and the decision to return it for a fifth season an easy one. Reilly also successfully has put Fringe and its murky future back into the mainstream media.
At a TCA Fox party, Joshua Jackson caught wind of Reilly’s remarks and wasn’t amused. He said Reilly “couldn’t have been more clear” and that “he’s not running a charitable foundation. And if the show is really not making money [then that should be it]. But the important thing to me is that our writers are given a chance to finish the show because it’s a serialized show.” Jackson tells it like he sees it and shares our same concerns.
One more season should be enough to push Fringe to 100 episodes which would be a great place for Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble and the rest of the gang to sign-off.