Will continue to make "great, compelling stories, week to week, that interests our fans, and really hope for the best"
Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni
For as many questions as "Fringe" fans might have following any given episode, the one question surrounding the FOX series year in and year out is will there be more episodes?
"Fringe," like so many great sci-fi shows before it ("Roswell," "Firefly," "Pushing Daisies"), is ratings-challenged. It's not a CBS comedy, a crime-lab procedural or a singing contest. Thus, it doesn't garner as many viewers as it could - or, for the quality of its storytelling, half as many viewers as it should.
Still, FOX graciously extended the series for a fourth season (a stellar, romantic adventure crossing no less than four universes), and may bring "Fringe" back for a fifth go-around if the costs are not prohibitive.
Whether or not that's the case - and sites such as www.fringetelevision.com are admirably rallying fans to the cause - showrunners J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner aren't losing any sleep.
"Obviously that's a big question," Wyman said of his show's standing with FOX. "We get that every year. This is the God-honest truth. We, Jeff and I, just do what we do. You have no control. We didn't have control last year, the year before either, and the year before. So we can only do what we do and that's make the show that we love, continue to follow the path, the stories that we want to tell: great, compelling stories, week to week, that interests our fans and really hope for the best.
"I think that any show that doesn't have huge ratings, that's kind of what you're always up against. Meanwhile, conversations are ongoing. Everything is running the way that things usually run in these types of situations. I guess we'll find out like everybody else. But we don't fret about it, because, really, it's out of our control. We can only step back and do our work, and therein lies the path to serenity. So we're hoping for the best, and just doing what we love."
Pinkner compares the series' present state to that of a popular children's tale.
"One of my favorite stories when I was a kid was 'The Little Engine That Could,' " he said. "So I think we're the little engine that could constantly. You know, 'I think I can, I think I can.' We're always struggling, and struggling, and struggling, and hoping, and hoping, and hoping. We just keep making the shows that we love, and the good news is we can never rest on our laurels of just, like, knowing we're going to be on forever. So we're constantly challenged to write the very best story we can week in and week out hoping that that will just allow us to keep telling more of them."
Wyman is grateful for the support "Fringe" has received in its three-plus seasons.
"It's a strange thing. It's a sci-fi show on network television and everybody knows that that in itself is an amazing feat that we've been on for so many years," he said. "It's like, you guys, the press and everything, has been so incredibly kind and so incredibly supportive that we feel like it's a success in any way, shape or form.
"It's an expensive canvas - everybody knows it. To do what we do every week, it costs a lot of money and you have to have a return on it. That's show business and you've got to do it. We just hope that the dollars and cents can make sense and we can continue doing it. But if this was the last season, at least I'll speak for myself and Jeff can comment on it, if this is the last season, I would feel, obviously, incredibly sad, because I know how much of the story that we have left to tell and that we would love to tell.
"But in the same breath I kind of feel like ... I would feel that I could take care of the fans. That's most important to us, that we feel like we have an ending that would leave people feeling like, 'Wow, I feel sad but satiated. I feel like that was definitely worth my four years of investment. I really love these characters and I can see where it would have gone. But I feel good.' "
Whether fans get a season finale in May, or a series finale, Wyman promises fans will be satisfied.
"That's all we're concerned about is to make sure that the fans don't feel like, 'Wait, what? What happened? I've invested four years of my life and I don't get any kind of resolution that makes sense?' That's not what's going on. And to be 100 percent frank, our partners at FOX would never want to consciously allow that to happen. So, everybody knows that Jeff and I are very prepared. We're ready for anything. Hopefully we go on. But it's out of our control."