Monday’s press tour saw FOX Entertainment President Kevin Reilly lavish praise on the serial risk-taker that is Fringe. While I’m loathe to read too much into comments he made about the show (all of them ‘positive’), I do wonder whether there’s a subtext that suggests the new season will see Fringe under more pressure to expand its audience than ever before?
Reilly was full of praise for Fringe and hinted that there would be minimum scheduling changes and script interference, saying:
“We have no intention of screwing with Fringe because the show has been going great”.
Which is great, but exactly what you’d expect him to say less than two months before the new season begins. The proof will be in the pudding – for instance, if the show has less interruptions as it has in previous seasons.
However, Reilly also threw out a reasonable but revealing comment regarding the show’s ratings.
“It really came into its own last season. If I have any frustration it’s that I’d like the audience to be bigger because people deserve to see the work.”
Now, as I said, it’s perfectly natural for the network to have ‘frustrations’ over last season’s ratings – as a massive fan of the show I was also frustrated, even though I was always confident about a third season. But on an subconscious level, Reilly’s comment suggests two things:
1. That the network desperately want Fringe to grow its audience share next season. Like the fans, they believe that the work being done on the show deserves (and perhaps, ‘needs’) more people to see it. Aside from quality scripts, great acting and compelling stories, the challenge is to leverage the show amongst the audience.
2. That this ‘frustration’ might well lead to ‘impatience’ if ratings don’t improve in season 3. With Lost moving on to the shining light in the sky, and less immediate competition on the serialized front (although V and NBC’s The Event might have something to say about that), they may feel that the show will never have a better chance to succeed both creatively and financially.
Now, the last thing I want to do is ‘scaremonger’ people into believing that Fringe is in danger of the chop. My personal view is that the show will excel on all fronts this season. However, there’s little denying that Fringe is probably under more pressure to grab audience attention (overnight ratings, legal online viewing and buzz) than ever before. Certainly since the Pilot episode.
Now, what did I say about not reading too much into those comments? Um, yeah.
What do you think – is Fringe under any extra pressure to succeed ratings-wise this coming season?