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Fringe’s ratings survive Friday night death slot

NEWS - TV NEWS

And the show could go for seven seasons in total...

Fringe

Geeks rejoice!  Reports of Fox's Friday night death slot have been greatly exaggerated.  Despite being moved to Friday night, notorious for being the worst night of the week ratings-wise, Fringe has returned from hiatus with numbers essentially equal to its Thursday night average from last year (4.9m), and actually improving on those of last episode.  It even won the night (along with its lead-in, Kitchen Nightmares) in the prized 18-49 demographic, with a 1.9 rating.  Inside TV observes that “In fact, this was Fox’s highest-rated Friday with entertainment programs since 2008.”

In the run-up to Fringe's return, Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly expressed his creative support for the show, saying “It’s a fantastic show, and honestly, I’d be heartbroken if it went away.”  He also stated that if all the Thursday viewers were to make the move to Fridays, then that would be more than enough to keep the show going.

So if the show maintains these numbers, then renewal should be virtually guaranteed.  Sci-fi fans are used to having their favourite shows suffer low ratings and then get cancelled, so this seems almost too good to believe.  Perhaps we’re in an alternate universe where sci-fi shows get good ratings on Friday nights, or maybe guest star Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown from Back to the Future) went back in time and changed things.

Before the episode aired, TV Series Finale reported “[Star Joshua] Jackson believes that the producers have an emergency plan to wrap up the series at the end of this season if need be.”  However, now it seems that fortunately won’t be necessary.

In fact, (also before the airing of the episode) the show’s executive producer Jeff Pinkner said “We have pitched to the network our five, six, and seven-year plan for this show… which has garnered more and more excitement.  There’s no concern that the show’s being moved to Friday.  It’s being moved to Friday because we all believe that that’s where the show can live for years and years.”

This makes for an interesting comparison with Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, which was put on Friday night from the beginning, and then (to most people's surprise, but not without good reason) renewed for a second season despite incredibly low ratings.  While it didn’t make it to a third, the writers managed to wrap up the storyline in a very satisfactory manner, condensing Joss Whedon’s proposed five or six-season plan in a way which gave season 2 an incredible amount of momentum, making for a brilliant season of television.  Nonetheless, it would have been nice to have been able to explore that fascinating world further, and see the overall story arc unfold in as much detail as it was intended to.  Hopefully Fringe will get this opportunity where Dollhouse didn’t.

And when Fringe is between seasons, perhaps Fox could bring back certain Friday night death slot casualties that would benefit from the revived timeslot…  (The list of possibilities is long, but number one on the list starts with ‘Fire’ and ends with ‘fly’…)

(In fact, Dollhouse’s treatment, also under Kevin Reilly’s regime, was a significant step up from the network’s/Fox’s treatment of Joss Whedon’s much-lamented Firefly under Reilly's predecessors, which was essentially an object lesson in how not to handle a show.  It looks like the culture at Fox is becoming more and more conducive to nurturing genre shows, which is wonderful news.)

And despite the cancellation of his most recent shows, genre fave Joss Whedon is now directing The Avengers, which should be the biggest superhero movie of all time, and looks set to finally join Fringe's J.J. Abrams among Hollywood's A-list directors.  It's a great time to be a geek.

TV by the Numbers 

See also:

Fringe meets Firefly, but hopefully won’t meet the same fate


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