With Fringe renewed against the odds for a fifth and final season, it’s not just the sci-fi serial and its faithful that reap the rewards — the implications could be far wider. We look at 5 reasons why the Fringe Season 5 renewal is great news for serialized television.
1. More Quality Network Serial
The renewal means there will be another quality serialized drama on network television in 2012/13 — and it should be a serialized event to look forward to, in a similar vein to LOST’s final season. With just 13 episodes with which to conclude the story in televised format, serial fans will be optimistic that the final season wont leave room for stand alone installments (or ‘mythalones’ as they’re more accurately referred to in the Fringeverse) that do little to develop the main overarching story. With a limited time-frame and ratings not as pressing an issue, the show’s creative mind get to plan and focus on the central story.
2. Another Serialized Drama Ends on Own Terms
This doesn’t happen as often as we’d like; too few serial dramas have concluded on their terms. In recent times LOST has strutted off into the big shiny light in the sky. Breaking Bad will join it soon, so, it seems, will Dexter. We can add Fringe to that list. The more serialized dramas that end on their own terms, the easier it will be for fans to invest in a series with overarching storylines, and the better their chance of delivering satisfying endings.
3. Managing Specific Needs of the Serial Drama
By all accounts, both the studio, Warner Bros., and the network, FOX, were eager to find a way to a make the final season happen. While cynics will point to syndication and other financial motivations, at the same time there was a display of accountability towards the show. This is rare, particularly for a serialized drama on broadcast television. The hope is this kind of dedication happens more often when networks take on serial. It may not always be possible to keep a ratings-challenged serial on the air (even a high quality one), but the Fringe renewal is a step in the right direction, and represents a small but significant victory for serialized television.
4. Rise of Digital Significance
While a license fee reduction and syndication may have had more to do with the renewal than Fringe‘s incredible time-shifted numbers, there’s little doubt that the show’s digital performance was a factor in the decision to renew for a fifth and final. Since serialized dramas do particularly well time-shifted (Fringe, for example, regularly jumps more than 60% in the key demo), it’s encouraging to see this platform increasing in significance.
5. Friday Survival
Fringe didn’t just survive, it survived the Friday night death slot — one of the most feared slots on the primetime schedule. The ‘FNDS’ has claimed its fair share of high-profile seriable scalps over the years, and fans shouldn’t be surprised to see more of their favorite serials put to its mercy in future. But Fringe conquering Friday night will give hope to these shows, and their fans. Cynics will point to the show’s decreasing ratings on that night, but hey, it’s kind of a difficult slot. Importantly, the show did enough to win a final season on ‘the night where serials go to die.’
These are just 5 reasons why the Fringe renewal should have a positive impact on the broader serialized landscape. Perhaps you can think of others to add to this list?