Well, Fringe fans, it’s looking more and more clear that season four will be the final season of the sci-fi drama. The series returns on Friday, January 13, with an all new (fantastic) episode, but upon its return, we might be looking down the barrel toward the series finale.
That’s despite the efforts of FOX president Kevin Reilly, a self-proclaimed Fringe fanatic. At the TCA today, he called his efforts to keep the show on air “a point of pride,” though he acknowledged that it was much more difficult to justify another renewal for the series. “We lose a lot of money on that show,” he confirmed. “At that rating, on that night [Fridays], it’s impossible to make money… and we’re not in the business of losing money.”
So does that mean that Fringe is cancelled? Well, not yet, Reilly said; nothing has been decided, so Fringe fans shouldn’t start a letter-writing campaign to FOX to save the show (but really, how effective are those anyway?).
The only way Fringe could possibly be saved, Reilly hinted, would be massive budget cuts for the series. The budget for season 4 has already been much lower than previous seasons, as has probably been obvious to anyone who has watched the show this year. Thankfully, the quality of the show hasn’t gone down too much, other than the increased frequency of those annoying product placements that we all just try to ignore. Slashing the budget again, though, would probably be a detriment to the show, stifling the writers creatively and probably forcing several main characters to be written out of the show.
So, as I’ve said many times before, I think it is time to end Fringe — but the decision needs to be made soon. I’ve always been a proponent of the shortened fifth season as a way to wrap up the series, but if that won’t be possible (and it seems unlikely), I think it’s best that FOX comes to a decision quickly, so that head writers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman can give us the satisfying conclusion that Fringe and its audience deserve.
Update: Reilly has confirmed that no decision will be made until after the season 4 finale is written, meaning that if the show is cancelled, we might have to rely on a rumored comic-book miniseries to close out the show.
On the brighter side of things, it doesn’t look like Fringe will be going out on a low note, if it does at all. Fringe online marketing guru Ari Margolis has confirmed to me that the next seven episodes of the show are insane. “People are gonna go nuts,” he confirmed.
I can’t wait.
Fringe returns Friday, January 13 with the midseason premiere, “Back to Where You’ve Never Been.” Watch it.