Today's News: Our Take Ask Matt: House, Once vs. Grimm, Fringe Renewal
Apr 30, 2012 10:32 AM ET
by Matt Roush
Question: Like all Fringe fans, I am delighted by the news that Fringe has been renewed for a 13-episode final season. I am relieved that Fox found a way to make it happen, despite the fact that Fringe is not exactly prospering as far as ratings are concerned. However, while I have been nervous about the uncertain future of Fringe all season, I had long expected that Fox would give Fringe a chance to end properly, and here's why:
1. At this point, Fringe is an established show. If this had been Fringe getting renewed for a second or even third season, it would not have surprised me if Fox had pulled the plug on it, considering the ratings. But this is a show going into a fifth season. By this point, both Fox and fans have invested a lot in the show. It has been allowed to get this far, and it only seems reasonable that it be allowed closure. 2. Fringe is well loved by critics, fans and Fox executives alike. Sure, a network loves all its shows and wants them all to succeed. But I've always gotten the impression that Fox executives had a more personal interest in Fringe, almost like they too were invested in seeing how the show would end. In any case, knowing how committed Fringe fans are, it seems the smartest move Fox could make would be to renew the show for one final run with enough notice that fans could prepare themselves and show-runners could properly wrap things up. 3. Fringe has been in the Friday night death slot. Fox would have to take that into consideration as well when making the renewal decision.
All that said, I've seen various statements claiming that all of these considerations are meaningless and the one and only reason Fox renewed Fringe was because they got an amazing deal from Warner Bros. I've seen it suggested that Fox executives could care less if fans love Fringe if that is not reflected in the ratings. While I completely understand that Fox is a business and they are not in the business of losing money, I believe that Fringe is one of those rare exceptions where there was more factoring in to their decision than the ratings and the deal. It just seems narrow-minded for that to be the only reason to renew Fringe. And if that really was all that mattered to Fox, I don't think they would have tried so hard to renew Fringe. What are your thoughts? Was Fringe in a unique position? Does it really not matter to Fox how much support fans have shown Fringe? — Michelle
Matt Roush: Of course it matters. All of it matters. The survival of Fringe into an unlikely fifth season is a testament to the value of viewers' engagement with a show, even if it isn't reflected in the same-night ratings. Fringe's situation really is a perfect storm of circumstances where everything plays a part in the argument for renewal. If Fringe weren't so well and thoughtfully executed, it would be gone. If the media hadn't embraced it, it would be gone. If Fox didn't believe in it, it would be gone. If it aired on another night of the week, where it dragged down ratings that made more of a difference, it would be gone. If Warner Bros. didn't make it financially feasible for Fox to take it to the end, it would be gone. It's wrong to oversimplify this extraordinary renewal as merely a business decision (although that's part of it), because if Fringe weren't this special, none of it would have mattered.
Read Matt's entire article here.