A.V. Club Interviews J.J. Abrams ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

A.V. Club Interviews J.J. Abrams

      Email Post       9/26/2008 12:43:00 AM      

Go to the A.V. Club to read article in its entirety or view Fringe specific excerpts here...

The A.V. Club: How do you generally feel when a new TV show of yours is about to première? Anxious? Confident?

J.J. Abrams: Well, it's a cocktail of excited for people to see it, terror that no one will watch it, and relief that something I've been working on for so long will finally be out there. Oh, and panic that I can't make more of the little changes we've been making all along. All the times I've been lucky enough to be a part of a show that's actually gotten on the air, it's always that same mixture of excitement and utter fear. Which is kind of what I hope people will feel when they watch Fringe. [Laughs.]

AVC: One thing about TV that's different than movies is that you can adjust as you go, and if you're on the air long enough, you can respond to the audience response. Do you pay a lot of attention to what critics and fans say when they write about your work?

JA: Oh, sure. I mean, the noise you hear after people see something you do—whether it's a TV show or a movie—that always makes you see that thing slightly differently. Without question. The ability of a television series to make adjustments is something you've got to take advantage of. And test-screening a movie can be helpful too. But the part that can be dangerous is when you take those notes as gospel, instead of taking them with a grain of salt. The key is to use the response as one of the tools in your box, as opposed to using it to determine what you do.

AVC: You didn't direct the Fringe pilot.

JA: No, I was directing Star Trek, and the studio didn't want me to put that on hold so I could go do my TV thing. [Laughs.]

AVC: Do you want to direct an episode?

JA: Well, I'm hoping. Maybe a season finale or a season opener or something. I've been wanting to do it since the pilot. We have great directors working on Fringe, but when someone else directs something that you're involved with, it's always their vision, and the director in my head is definitely wanting to get involved.

AVC: The pilot of Fringe opens up with an airplane in trouble, which is similar to the opening of Lost. Was that a conscious nod, or just a coincidence?

JA: What happened was, we were discussing what the opening of the show should be, and we talked about so many different things, so when the plane idea came up, the last thing on my mind was Lost. Later, we realized it sounded an awful lot like what we did on Lost, but by that point, honestly, I thought, "Who cares?" It's appropriately creepy, and large enough in scale to fit the bill for an opener.

AVC: If you look at a lot of the TV and movies you've been involved with, like Cloverfield or Lost or now Fringe, you seem to be trying as hard as you can for as long as you can not to reveal the trick.

JA: I think that that's partially true. Like with Cloverfield, the whole idea with the marketing and the quick release was for people to have an experience as it happened, instead of pre-experiencing it by reading all about it. But I feel like with Fringe, the mandate is to try to do something week-to-week that's a procedural like CSI, but a skewed procedural, that's as creepy as humanly possible. While with Lost, on the one hand, it is a show that seems to duck answering questions. At the end of the pilot, you have Charlie asking "Where are we?", and that's something the audience still wants to find out. But week-to-week, that show answers a lot of questions, just not always the ones people feel are the ones that matter.

I think that even if you're wondering if two characters are ever going to kiss, drawing out the inevitability is part of the fun. Whatever the genre happens to be. Now in a movie, you get all the answers by the end, except in Pulp Fiction, where you don't ever really get to know what's in that case. But even in movies—a great example is North By Northwest, where you don't really know what the microfilm is, but who cares? By the end of the movie, the answer that you get is not really the answer that you thought you wanted to know. The answer you get is: "Oh, they're in love, and now they're married, and these were the circumstances that led up to that. They almost died a number of times, but they survived and they found each other," I feel like in telling stories, there are the things the audience thinks are important, and then there are the things that are actually important.


Anonymous said...

fringe is awsome, it is one of my favorite shows

Anonymous said...

who is causing the patterns and why

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on to this show, and now I never miss it. This fills the gap left when X-files went off the air. I love this kind of TV show! I just hope this show returns for the fall line up. It seems the networks drop good shows to fit in more reality crap.

Dennis said...

The show has already been picked up for season two: http://www.fringetelevision.com/2009/05/its-official-fringe-picked-up-for.html

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