With Fringe’s third season renewal order, the show’s producers have discussed what will be in store for fans come September and the series’ return. Speaking to Portal at the International Press Junket held by Warner Bros. in LA, JH Wyman and Bryan Burk were keen to emphasise the importance of the alternate dimension for the next season of the show.
“We are going to see ‘over there’, the other side. We’re going to actually experience that,” said Wyman, when asked about the freedom they now had to explore new avenues of story and plot with the renewal news. “And I can say the season finale is more compelling than last year for certain reasons. Because where last year it peaked, it opened a window to something that may or may not be and people didn’t have enough information to actually draw any conclusions, there were just lots of questions. I think this does both. I think it gives you all the questions that you need as a narrative engine to come back and say, ‘I really want to see how that ends.’ But it also it gives you a very good understanding of what the entire series is about, which is a huge reveal.”
JJ Abrams, fresh from the success of Star Trek and the development of his new series Undercovers, agreed with Wyman. “The reason I’m feeling like we’ve been building up to where the show is going is because I feel like suddenly instead of being theoretical or being discussed, there are actual physical, tangible, real opportunities now to do certain things that we have discussed back in the beginning,” he said. “Now, we’re actually in a place where we have at least earned the revelation… and so the answer is there will definitely be stuff that we could not have done before.” For those who were wondering, Leonard Nimoy will not only appear in the next season, but will also be a “big part” of it.
Fringe’s success has been patchy this season, with ratings seeming to fluctuate at their own will. The disruption caused by the Winter Olympics hasn’t helped either, and given the notorious reputation of the Fox network for being somewhat trigger-happy towards cancelling sci-fi shows of late, many among Fringe’s fans were concerned that the show wouldn’t return. Curiously, however, Burk is of the opinion that the show’s shift to a more serialised format rather than a weekly one hasn’t hurt it, thanks to DVR. “I strangely think [that] as the DVR grows, it is beneficial to serialised television,” admitted the producer, who previously worked on heavily serialised shows such as Alias and Lost. “Because if you miss episodes, you actually don’t, they are still there and you can catch up and watch them all. I remember I think Lost really benefited from having the DVRs. In 2004, when we started Lost, serialised television was… it was heresy to even talk about it.” This serialisation of the show, which will be expanded in the third season, is something that was planned from the outset, although it was apparently hard not to launch into that straight away. “At the beginning it is always a struggle because you want to keep it as standalone as possible,” Burk recalled, relating his experience on ABC’s Peabody-winning show to Fringe once more. “But our instincts are always serialise, because that is storytelling, at least for us. And even if you look at the beginning of Lost, there were attempts in some of our earlier episodes to allow people to kind of jump in.”
The show has had its fair share of critics, from those who labelled it a rehashed X Files, to those who doubted its long-term longevity. Abrams, however, remains convinced of Fringe’s worth. “There is something about Fringe that I feel where we are going that there are going to be stories that can only be done on this show. So I’m very excited about realising the opportunities.” Wyman, too, is bullish in his defence of the series and promises more of the same in the months to come. “We are taking stories and we are making metaphors of some great things. We are taking on science fiction on a Thursday night on Fox and we are actually really giving it the handling of something that is a drama. Isaac Asimov, everything that is very science fiction, comes all the way back to what is it like to be human? So you may find something a little bit different in this season.”
Fringe airs on Fox in the United States, and Sky1 in the United Kingdom.