With the announcement that Fringe had been renewed for a fifth and final season, fans world over rejoiced. In fact, according to the show's executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman, it was the fans who could really take ownership of the renewal.
"I think it is absolutely fair to say that without the support of the fans and social media, there would be no season five," Pinkner said.
"This is actually a really cool time in television history," Wyman added. "It will be considered a cool time, where social networks are informing the big networks. People are talking, people are doing things, people are moving. They're going to action for their shows, which is great. Before, it was, 'We're going to send a bunch of letters,' which is okay, but it's not this. What this is, what's going on now is really empowering for the fans because they feel that they have a platform and a forum to really express to people who may or may not be listening, but chances are they are, to express their deep gratitude and love for the show and their support. Our fans are so incredible that they were calling the sponsors saying, 'Hey, I don't watch it live because I have a job, but you know what? Here's the thing: I love the show and I watch it on DVR and I'm going to buy your product. You must have good taste because you guys are supporting 'Fringe.'' It was huge for us. It was like a whole movement. Honestly, there's not a moment that I don't think how lucky we are to have such incredible fans."
One of the other major factors Pinkner and Wyman cited as a factor in renewal was the support of Fox.
"These guys in the building at Fox and at Warner Bros. are so supportive of the program," Wyman said. "Every step of the way, they've done exactly what they're going to say. I know that's probably an anomaly because businesses -- sometimes shows get bad ratings and then they stay on and sometimes they get okay ratings and they get canceled -- and two years later a show that has worse ratings than that show stays on the air. It's a very strange, non-specific -- I don't even know the rules."
"The internal support at Fox is astronomical," Pinkner said. "As they said to us, the support outweighs sort of any expectation. A show that, quite frankly, performs like we do, usually people at the network are running away from it. Whereas with us, everyone recognizes, I think to toot our own horn for a second, the merit and the value of we're doing. They really love the storytelling and they've been insanely supportive from the top down from the beginning."
The executive producers also related that the network called them as soon as a decision was made about the show's future, after which the two expressed a desire to immediately tell the fans who were so devoted to the show. Although they weren't able to tell the fans immediately, it was only a few hours between the time Pinkner and Wyman got the news and when it was announced to fans over Twitter.
"It was hours. Just because -- you've got to let everybody do your job and they had some great ideas on how they wanted to release the information and we wanted to be supportive of that," Wyman said. "Jeff had mentioned at the same time being loyal to our fans and being the first to Twitter it, which was the case. The Twitter guys got it first."
The show's two-part season finale, "Brave New World," begins tonight, but as always, the executive producers were incredibly tight-lipped about any potential spoilers. "We are really devoted to everybody and the people asking those questions but we sort of have a no spoilers policy because we're just of the mind that the entertainment value of watching the stories unfold is diminished if you already know what's coming," Pinkner said when asked about the possibility of David Robert Jones returning. "We love all those characters from the redverse before it was closed because of the problems that David Robert Jones was causing. So if our team can somehow dispense with Jones, there's absolutely a possibility of that door staying open again, but we can't definitively say anything."
Pinkner also stated the future of actor Seth Gable, who played Lincoln Lee, is still up in the air. "Seth is spectacular and awesome and has been such a phenomenal addition to the cast, but as far as his standing going forward, to say anything about that would also be to reveal things that are coming ahead," he said.
While spoilers were very much off the table for the two executive producers, they were more than happy to talk about the renewal and the eventual endgame for the series.
"We know the end and it's a perfect amount of time to be done right and to be doled out in the right pace," Wyman said of the 13-episode fifth season. "We feel really confident that we can have a satisfying ending for us but also, of course, for our fans and supporters, within the time frame of 13 or 15 episodes. I think that's really what we were hoping for and Fox is so great to deliver and continue to demonstrate their incredible support. We're very content."
One thing Wyman also said was that the consequences and effects of recent episode "Letters of Transit" would come into play during the next season.
"Part of our storytelling has always been reveals and recontextualizing what you think you know and what you've seen and putting out a different mindframe for the viewer," Wyman said. "Let's just say that future is important to our storytelling but it's not the be-all-end-all. There is a reason. Somebody asked us this really cool question the other day -- how do we decide to do flashbacks or flashforwards or whatever and for us, there's always a reason to do it. They go in the past so we have to put you into that head space so you can understand this thematically and figure out where the character is coming from or has been in order for you to get the full experience of what you're watching today in the present. That's kind of how I feel about 'Letters of Transit.' It was for a reason. [Episode] 18 is traditionally the one we go off the beaten path and that was no different. It was definitely off the beaten path. Does it have further implications? It does. You're going to definitely need to understand what 'Letters of Transit' is or was in order to fully grasp all thematic things we'd like to tell this year."
With the season finale airing May 11 and fans already beginning to chomp at the bit for season five, the question naturally came up as to whether the show might continue in some kind of alternative media following the end of Fringe next year.
"We've thought about a traveling Fringe baseball game that will travel around the country and there'll be the red team and the blue team and they'll be populated by identical twins," Pinkner joked. "But it's a little tough to get off the ground."
"I think it was at WonderCon or Comic-Con, I said if there was no pickup then we were definitely going to try and finish off the stories by hook or by crook even if it was going to have to be in comic books, we were going to try to give some closure to the fans," Wyman said. "We meant it, at the time. Now that we've got the 13, that's not a far-out idea. I love comics, I know Jeff does too. I think if there was a significant story that we feel like, "You know what? I think people really want to know about this aspect of the show that really wasn't covered 100%" and they're really interested, then yeah, that would be something we would consider, I'm sure."
Although Wyman mentioned the possibility of Fringe continuing in comic books, Pinkner did note that while there were projects in the works, the primary Fringe source would still be the show.
"I don't think aside from things that are already in the works, some of which are still kind of secret, some of which you may know about, I think largely the TV show will tell the story," Pinkner said.
In terms of the final ending of Fringe, Pinkner and Wyman have stated previously they've already figured it out. "Traditionally, we finish a chapter then close it then start a new one," Wyman said. "When we're thinking about the end of the season, we're always thinking about the beginning of the next one and what kind of doors that can open for us. That's basically how it's been since the get-go. It's no different this year. We definitely know where the series is going to end and how it's going to end and what we're saying with the final season."
As for this year's finale, Wyman expressed it would serve both as a wrap-up for the season and a jumping-off point to the series' final season next year. "We just finished the season conclusion in a manner that we feel is authentic and real for that season and we use that as a pushoff point to tell another aspect of the story that we hope people will be interested in."
"Brave New World" Part One airs tonight, May 4, on Fox.