Although last night’s Fringe was arguably the very best episode of the season, few people tuned into watch it live. Entertainment Weekly reports that a mere 5.1 million viewers watched “Entrada,” which would be excellent numbers for a cable series like The Walking Dead or Sons of Anarchy, but not so much for broadcast television — certainly not in its competitive Thursday night time slot.
But Fringe’s inability to capture success on Thursday nights has many of the people involved with the series optimistic about the impending move to Fridays, beginning with the first episode following next week’s fall finale. Fox officials have already expressed their enthusiasm over Fringe’s new time slot, and now some of the show’s cast and crew are weighing in with their thoughts.
During a conference call with the press held earlier this week, executive producers and showrunners Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman enthused about the move to Friday nights. Wyman said:
We’re excited. We think it’s open territory that can be conquered. We really do believe our fans are loyal. I believe they’re going to follow. It’s a chance for us to sort of bring back that … and get away from that statement that Friday night is not an opportune night, though we can actually deliver like The X-Files did, or something like that. I think we both agree it’s a good opportunity.
When Fox informed us of the move, what was most important to us is we understand that our audience is watching the show not sort of like a standalone audience watches the show, but they’re actually watching it as an investment over time. We wanted to be able to tell our audience that the story, the ongoing, the long arching story that we have planned for our characters, is going to get told. It’s funny — there are more Fringe fans in the building at Fox than any show we’ve ever worked on before. I think they and we all feel that if we can build a fan base on and sort of like carve out some territory on Friday night, we can be there for years.
Elsewhere, John Noble — none other than Walter Bishop himself — gave an interview with The Los Angeles Times and added his own thoughts on the Friday move:
It was an interesting decision by Fox. We are creating some very exciting episodes, I think — we are making some great TV. The prevailing feeling is that moving to Friday nights may be a blessing in disguise. Less interruptions, and less big-time competition. Friday night may present a challenge, but our self-belief and commitment are sky high. Time will tell.
That’s three Fringe professionals, all of whom seem optimistic about the move to Fridays. Clearly, they’ve got a show to sell, so staying positive about the move is in their best interests, but they’ve also got some valid points. Perhaps the dreaded Friday death slot won’t be the end for Fringe — Olivia and the gang have faced much worse, after all — but it’s hard not to be at least a little bit nervous about the show’s future.