If anyone is trying to discard the reputation of Fox of not giving science-fiction shows a chance, network president Kevin Reilly says he hopes what's happening to "Fringe" changes that.
Despite operating in the red for the last couple of seasons for the network, Reilly has kept the show around. And there is still a chance he might keep Dr. Bishop and Olivia around for a little longer after this season. Yet, fans probably shouldn't get their hopes up too high.
"We lost a lot of money on the show," Reilly recently told attendees of the Television Critics Association winter press tour. "We're not in the business of losing money."
"Fringe" has lived on Friday nights since last season, and has been chalking up the network's lowest ratings. Yet, the network has kept the show around, mostly because of revised licensing deals with Warner Bros., which produces the show, and a desire to keep what it feels is high-quality program on the air.
"Star Trek" director and "Fringe" co-creator J.J. Abrams said that he hoped there would be another season of the show on Fox.
"There's some stuff coming up that's so great," Abrams said, according to IGN. "They're doing such amazing work. Maybe it's just that dump optimism of hoping that when good work is done, it gets rewarded."
Abrams added that if Fox were to cancel the show, it's possible that Warner Bros. could shop the show somewhere else. However, such a move rarely results in a pickup elsewhere.
So far this year, "Fringe" is averaging a 2.0 rating/3 share, according to Fast National overnight ratings from The Nielsen Co. That's down nearly 28 percent from last year, and is ranked No. 75 overall of 84 shows. Its audience loss -- which still reflects the mid-season change from Thursdays last season -- is among the top five biggest audience losses so far this season. Only audience drops for "Mobbed" on Fox, "Sing-Off" and "Chuck" on NBC, and "Glee" are worse.
"Fringe" also is the lowest-rated of all network shows on the Big Four. The only shows that have smaller audiences are found on The CW, and even then, "The Vampire Diaries" is just 10 percent behind.
Yet, Fox remembers the fan backlash when it ditched shows such as "Harsh Realm" from Chris Carter and "Firefly" from Joss Whedon before they could get moving, and Ronald D. Moore's "Virtuality" before it could even get a series pickup.
At least with "Fringe," even if this were to be the last season, Reilly promises that the show would have the opportunity to wrap up. If that's the case, then he'll likely have to make that decision soon, because the production clock on this season is ticking quickly.
In the meantime, Reilly is trying to keep fan campaigns to save the show at a minimum.
"Please don't start the letter-writing campaign right now, I can't take it," he said.
"Fringe" airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
About the Author