Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fox and "Fringe": A Tragic Love Story

I talk ever so often about "Fringe", much to the chagrin of those who don't really care. Maybe I'm just beating a dead horse with this, but I'll be damned if I stop now. Never give up on a show like this. There's always a chance it'll surprise you. And I've kept that in the back pocket of my mind throughout the series' past two seasons, during which the show has taken continuous turns for the worst. One can only blame the dreaded choice made at the start of season 2 to move the show to Thursday nights. Had the show stayed on Tuesdays, or at least remained joined at the hip with Fox's constant, "House", it would have made these years without as much trouble or doubt.

But show buoyed in the 6 million viewer range for the majority of the second season. In the first half of the third season, the show lowered to an average of about 5 million viewer a week. Then Fox made the choice that many thought would be sealing the show's fate. They moved it to Friday nights, though it was a statistical move that could yield strong enough benefits on that specific landscape. Needless to say, it didn't entirely work out. The show was then averaging 4 million before heading towards 3 million towards the end of the season. And in fact that is the situation we're in right now.

The fact that the show's been doing so poorly for so long isn't as much a travesty as it is a miracle. That the show has stuck around through continuously degenerating ratings is an astonishing show of confidence from the brass working at Fox. While badgering the possibilities of the show's fate at the close of last season with a friend who is far less knowledgeable of the show than he is of ratings, he expressed utmost confidence that the show would be picked up for an 18 episode final season. When it wasn't he was genuinely surprised, and I think with good reason.

At every turn, the men up stairs have said that they have had complete confidence in the abilities of the writers. And it's been clear all along that the show's losses in ratings have nothing to do with the show's quality. If the show had been blessed with more consistent viewers, they'd have been as ravenously in love with it as with any other show. The board at Fox is as much admirers of the show as I am myself, and I think their keeping it on has less to do with strategy than it does with their own love of the show. But all the same, I'd kind of like them to take things a little more seriously. Place this show with something more appropriate than "Kitchen Nightmares". That's no way to get an audience pumped for this kind of show. Stick it back with "House" on Mondays! "Terra Nova" is finishing its season after 13 episodes (THANK GOD), so there's a free spot. Or better yet, stick it with "Alcatraz" and throw "House" to Fridays. The show's fading anyways. Let it die, and let the more promising live!

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