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EMMYS:'Fringe's Jeff Pinkner & Joel Wyman

      Email Post       6/24/2011 10:15:00 AM      

EMMYS: 'Fringe's Jeff Pinkner & Joel Wyman
By THE DEADLINE TEAM Thursday June 23, 2011 @ 9:30pm PDT

Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman are more than just co-showrunners of the Fox science fiction hour Fringe. They’re also the gatekeepers of its genre-expanding premise that’s been described as a hybrid of The X-Files, Altered States, and The Twilight Zone. Despite being a critical darling through much of its first 3 seasons, however, the series has come up short with the TV Academy, generating only Emmy nominations in 2009 for special effects and 2010 for sound editing. Its stars Anna Torv, Josh Jackson and John Noble remain otherwise unrecognized from Emmy (though Noble just this week won a Critics' Choice Television Award). Pinkner and Wyman spoke with Deadline TV Contributor Ray Richmond about the show’s distinct sensibility and its third season:

DEADLINE: How was the decision made to introduce to Fringe the premise of having the action alternate between parallel universes this past season?
One of the things we’d said to our studio and network partners from the beginning is, this is very much a series that has to move forward and keep changing in order to be successful. It’s an unfolding story as opposed to a condition. It isn’t about a hospital where bodies come through or a police precinct with suspects. We knew early on that the series and saga involved two universes. But it was important
to let it unfold relatively slowly, to have it open up to characters and viewers over time as opposed to the middle of season one. Because we knew it was a pretty heady concept.
JOEL WYMAN: In Jurassic Park, by the time you see the dinosaurs, you already were introduced to the idea of a fly stuck in amber. The table is set long before to you get to that place of wonder, so when you finally reach it you’ve accepted it as being real. We felt that was important to establish for Fringe as well, to first set up the desires and intentions of the characters and let the wonder of this world unfold in front of them before going full-on to that alternate universe.

DEADLINE: It’s always a big risk to change up your creative game when you’re already an established show. You were asking the audience to in essence accept utterly different personas for the same character.
We’re thrilled with how our fans have responded to it. But we were careful at the same time not to abandon any of our main characters. At the same time, we thought that if we were going to ask people to invest in these doppelganger characters, we’d best do it full-out as well, so viewers got to know them and spent enough time understanding their dilemmas.

DEADLINE: But your ratings numbers did slip from Season 2 to Season 3, going from a 2.8 with adults 18-49 to a 2.2. Of course, Fox also moved from Thursday to Friday nights midway through the season, which may have had something to do with it.
The numbers were of course a concern. The network and studio need to make money in order to keep us on the air. We get that. At the same time, we’ve never tried to design stories just to appeal to a larger audience. And the kind of storytelling we’re doing isn’t going to appeal to everyone no matter what we do?

DEADLINE: What kind of storytelling is that?
Well, basically humanistic science fiction. What we’ve discovered is, not everyone likes licorice but the ones who do really, really like it. That’s how our fans are, too. They followed us from Thursday to Friday night without a lot of drop-off, both live and on DVR.
WYMAN: But we understand we’re fighting very hard against the science fiction moniker. There’s a group of people who just say, ‘We’re not interested in that.’ We’re trying to work in metaphors and deliver a little bit of a movie each week, as well as finding deeper thematic elements than network TV normally tries to tackle.

DEADLINE: But was there any point during the past season when you had legitimate reason to worry that Fox might not renew?
You know, maybe out of na├»vete, we weren’t that concerned that this would be the end of the journey for us. We did have an ending in place just in case. But we’re very fortunate to have legitimate fans at the network and the studio who are really upfront with us. They knew the story we were telling this past season and celebrated how bold we were trying to be on network television.

DEADLINE: How much does it bother you to always see the cable dramas getting awards hype while most network series don't?
The truth is that we watch those shows, too. We find the work that’s going on in cable to be astounding. If the acclaim and promotion they’re getting makes us feel anything, it’s motivation to maybe pave some new ground for network television. And it’s tough to pull off. Network TV, in a lot of ways, doesn’t have the ability to tell the same kind of story as they do on cable. You’re fighting to draw in an audience whose life is often too busy to schedule any appoint TV. We’re just hoping that people say, ‘Hey, Fringe is doing something different and going deeper than network TV usually tries to go.’
PINKNER: If there’s any frustration at all, it’s that there’s clearly a different expectation when you try to tell a story over 22 episodes than when you’re doing 10, 11 or 13 episodes.

DEADLINE: And, again, there’s the whole stigma of the science fiction label that you consistently need to overcome.
And the frustration is that we feel like we’re so much more than science fiction. We’re doing things through the eye of Fringe that are altogether new. Rarely do you get to tell a story about a three-way love triangle where two of the three people are the same person, as we did this past season.

DEADLINE: In terms of next season, will you be keeping the parallel universes conceit going? And what’s going to become of Josh Jackson’s character Peter?
Well, Peter no longer exists. All we’ll say is that in Season 4, we’ll very much see the consequences of what happened in Seasons 1, 2 and 3. What happens to Peter remains a very big question. But a new chapter will unfold next season. As it does every year on this show.


Anonymous said...

Wyman needs to shut up. We try not to abandon our main characters, whatever. Peter doesn't exist and john and Anna are winning awards. Shut up Wyman.

Anonymous said...

That's interesting , s1 to s3 full arc ... and starting with a new arc s4 to s6 ... so what did happen in the past 3 seasons is just the start of a new chapter .

Genius .. the writers are genius .


Anonymous said...

Kate said: Peter doesn't exist.

The Observers said HE never existed. We can assume that the HE they were talking was the Peter Bishop that just vanished from the lab on Liberty Island. No? But! There is a second Peter Bishop. The Peter Bishop we saw vanish is from the alternate universe and was fathered by Secretary Bishop. The second Peter Bishop is from this universe, son of Doctor Bishop, and he may now come into existence. The Observers have been trying to "course correct" for more than a few decades. Now that they have reset the timeline, Peter Bishop from here can come back into play. Change one thing - Walter's first crossover at Reiden Lake - and the entire timeline changes since then. WHAT influenced Walter not to go save/kidnap the alt-Peter? Simple - he saved his own son first. No need to crossover in that case, is there? Oh we get Peter back next season - but the Peter that has always lived, and was born, in this universe. The Peter that "never existed" is the one that we have been watching for the past three seasons. The one that sat in a field of Tulips with Olive as a child, the one that tried to plunge through the frozen lake after his recovery from his genetic disorder, etc... What will be interesting is to see what he has been doing as a teen and in his twenties. Was he a shady business/con man like the alt-Peter was? Did he use his intellect for good (vice profit). Did his mother thrive, instead of committing suicide? In Season 4 we may see that the new Peter Bishop is a clean-shaven, timid, three-piece suit wearing, corporate drone.

-- DocH

Anonymous said...

to kate:

how exactly do you know that Peter wont be the star/main character now? do you have any spoilers we don't? not only is Joshua Jackson not Jesus or any more important than the other actors/characters though he seems like a cool cat, but for all we know Peter will now be the main character off in some Observer Q continuum so give it a rest

Fringie6989 said...

I think there is a good chance of Peter being the focus of season 4. Season 1 had the introduction of the characters and storyline. Season 2 was focused on Walter and his journey to redemption from realizing the consequences of his actions and learning from them. Season 3 was focused on Olivia and her path from depending on herself out of fear to seeing the strength inside of her that allowed her to be strong and yet still vulnerable to the people she loves. It wouldn't be far-fetched to believe that this season will be focused on Peter and his journey. And he doesn't even need to be on screen for him to be the focus. It is quite mind boggling to think of just how much Peter has influenced the people around him and the way that their lives have been shaped because of the actions surrounding Peter's past.

Anonymous said...

No, Fringie6989, this will be OLIVIA'S journey and anna torv will yet again act it up and get all the credit while Josh/Peter will be gone and people will not care about him anymore. That's why they bought in seth gabel isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Its clear the writers is only doing this just to give John and anna more acting jobs. Plain and simple.

Anonymous said...


Yes...that is simple...but it`s also stupid and childish. But that sais more about you than about the writers.

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