FOX orders futuristic drama from J.H. Wyman & J.J. Abrams [Update: Another Abrams pilot a-go at NBC]
With Fringe in his rearview mirror, showrunner and sometimes writer and director J.H. Wyman has a new drama at FOX to work on. Today FOX ordered to pilot an hourlong drama from Wyman and J.J. Abrams, the same auspices that brought us Walter Bishop and the rest of the Fringe family. The untitled project is being produced by Abrams’ production company Bad Robot in collaboration with Warner Bros. TV. It’s being described as “an action-packed buddy cop show set in a near future when all LAPD officers are partnered with highly evolved humanlike androids.” Yeah, count me in. Wyman is writing the script and serving as executive producer, a title he shares with Abrams, Bryan Burk, and Kathy Lingg. After the script is locked in and casting choices are made, the pilot will be made and if all goes well we’ll have another Abrams/Wyman futuristic drama on the air in the fall.
Update: Mere moments after wrapping this post news broke that another pilot headlined by J.J. Abrams was ordered by NBC. (After landing the Star Wars directing gig and two pilots at two of the major broadcast networks, somebody is having the best week ever.) This project also falls under the Bad Robot/Warner Bros. TV banners and Abrams is working closely with Alfonso Cuarón (director of Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban). It’s working title is Believe and the script is currently being penned by Cuarón and Mark Friedman (Home of the Brave, The Forgotten). Believe is about “the unlikely relationship between a young girl in possession of a great gift/powers — which will come into their own in seven years — and a man sprung from prison who has been tasked with protecting her from the evil elements that hunt her power.” Abrams, Cuarón, Friedman, and Bryan Burk are executive producing. Cuarón is on tap to direct.
It’s the beginning of the end. Tonight is the season five premiere of Fringe, the first of thirteen episodes that will encapsulate five years of freaky science, discovering the impossible, and most importantly, getting to know a group of characters that have grown immensely since we were first introduced to Walter Bishop, his son Peter, and Agent Olivia Dunham.
And if showrunner J.H. Wyman has anything to say about it, this is going to be an emotional roller coaster ramping up to a hopeful conclusion. In a recent interview with TVLine, Wyman shed light on what long time viewers can expect. “One thing I was adamant about was getting inside the emotion of the characters that everybody has grown to know over four years, and really pay that off in a big way. [This season] is about questions, about emotion, about family… I want to put the viewer down on ground level with our characters, so they can go through this final experience with them.” Wyman goes on to describe how he hopes to feel after the series finale has come and gone. “I want to get into my car the next day, drive off and feel like, ‘Hmm, I can imagine where these characters are today. I can imagine what they’re doing.’ That was really important, because I can’t accept closure that doesn’t have some form of hope. That’s just who I am.”
So what do we know, plot-wise, as we near tonight’s premiere? Season five will take place mostly in the year 2036, a time when the Observers have taken over the planet. As we learned in last season’s pivotal future episode “Letters of Transit,” Olivia and Peter’s daughter Henrietta un-ambers Water, Peter, and Astrid to come together and start a resistance to take down the bald-headed dictators. Where’s Olivia? What happened between the time Peter and Olivia were happily married with little Etta and the amber situation. What is up with the Observers? These questions will be answered, assures Wyman, and more. “All the stuff that’s really, truly important, the emotional things, will be addressed.”
The season premiere, “Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11″, the first in a “13-hour feature film saga” boasts Wyman, airs tonight at 9PM on FOX. As you shake in anticipation, check out the radical key art plastered above and in the galleries below you’ll find character stills and pics from the episode.
They are coming. Let’s fight for the future, shall we?
[Images via IGN]
“It’s only 13 episodes so I’m going to be careful with what I say because I really want you guys to experience it. I’m going to be tight lipped.” Fringe sole showrunner J.H. Wyman warned fans early on that the show’s panel would not spoil anything for fans eagerly anticipating the sci-fi drama’s fifth and final season. He did, however, shed light on when exactly he finally decided on how the show would end. Ideas were already brewing during season one, “but those change because people bring things to the pie that you don’t expect. I had two and a half versions of what I should do at the end and I decided about a month ago.” He also teased fans by saying that he’s already told the cast members how things will conclude. “We want to write the scripts early to make sure everything is absolutely perfect. If I’m doing that, I wanted to make sure the actors had enough time to bring their ideas and to know where they are going for the final season. I want to make sure they had enough advance warning.” The only thing that Wyman would spill is that the season 5 premiere will take place in the year 2036 and is “going to pick up exactly where we left off in [episode] 419, the next day.”
Other tidbits… Wyman would not confirm nor deny the return of Henry Ian Cusack’s character; and we will soon learn why we have yet to see female Observers. Interesting, yes.
Without diving deep into where season five will go, the Fringe panel mostly reminisced about the past four seasons and at one point looking back made Jasika Nicole (Astrid), Anna Torv (Olivia), and even Lance Reddick (Broyles) cry like babies.
“The characters don’t end when the show ends,” said Josh Jackson (Peter). Two items so worth mentioning spring from this statement. Wyman announced that a book will release after the show ends; it will tell a tale through the perspective of our friend September the Observer. “We are trying to give you guys back so much because without you, we would not be here,” Wyman said to the cheering fanbase.
And then there’s this bombshell. When a fan asked if the show will survive after the fifth season airs, John Noble (Walter) responded like this: “Anything is possible. If this season goes off as we think it will, I would think a film is very possible down the track.” Added Jackson, “The show will live on in some form or another.” These are actors talking here, not network execs or movie studios, and so this must be taken with a grain of salt. But still, knowing that the actors are just as passionate as the fans are that they’d even mention such an exciting idea should make you feel good inside no matter what happens.
With all those words out of the way, indulge yourself with the season 5 preview trailer that’s embedded above. Most of it contains highlights from last season, especially from pivotal episode 419. But there’s also some new stuff sprinkled in that’ll get you going. Fun fact: Wyman says that this video was used to sell a fifth season to FOX. The cult fanbase had its say, of course, and for that Wyman and the entire cast of the show forever remains grateful.
In the future Olivia will join Walter, Peter, Astrid, Henrietta, and even Belly in the fight against the Observers. “We need to keep those bald-headed basterds occupied,” says Peter. “What’d you have in mind?” Olivia asks. “I think it’s time we caused a few fringe events of our own,” Peter replies. But it is Walter’s new line that takes the licorice-lined cake: “I know what we need to do. I know how to rid our world of the Observers.” BOOM.
Fringe returns Friday, September 28 at 9PM on FOX.
Update: Major kudos awarded to Warner Bros. for posting the Fringe panel in its entirety to YouTube in glorious high definition! Watch the waterworks fly in the video link provided here. Also inside you’ll be privy to a Comic Con exclusive video made by the Fringe team for the fans; it spectacularly highlights some of the best moments of the show over the course of the past four seasons and tees things up for the final thirteen. Pick an hour out of your day and WATCH IT.
TV trailer: ‘FRINGE’ season 4 finale will rock your (wool) socks [Update: the showrunners tease what's next]
If you thought part one of the two part Fringe season 4 finale was spectacular, just wait. After watching this movie-like trailer for “Brave New World: Part Two” you will surely see what I mean. (Spoiler!) Leonard Nimoy’s William Bell is back and he’s off his rocker. Will the Fringe team–including Bell’s former parter Walter Bishop (John Noble)–be able to stop him from collapsing the two universes so he can control a new one like a God? Ramp up anticipation for tonight’s epic season finale that airs at 9PM on FOX by watching this revealing clip. After the break you’ll find a bonus video featuring Nimoy and Noble discussing the new chapter that is about to unfold as we make our way to the final thirteen episodes of one the best sci-fi shows in history.
Jump after the break to view an excerpt from a recent interview with the Fringe showrunners. (Click here for more…)
Tonight Fringe airs one last episode before its winter break. Showrunner and executive producer Jeff Pinkner, like the trailer above, promises that the episode titled “The End of All Things” will provide answers for fans of the sci-fi cult series. “It’s definitely, as they say, a game-changer in that our characters learn a lot more and the audience is going to learn a lot more about the über-plot of the season’s bad guy, David Robert Jones,” says Pinkner. Also, The Observer will “peel back some layers about what his agenda has been and use that as an opportunity to revisit the things on the show we’ve seen before.” Pinkner concludes, “It’s the 14th out of 22 episodes and it’s very much an episode that’s going to launch us into the back half of the episodes.”
When Fringe returns from its month-long hiatus, an episode called “A Short Story About Love” will bring viewers back into the fold. Co-showrunner and exec producer J.H. Wyman will be making his directorial debut with this special episode and he teases it like this: ”It’s an episode that’s really close to me. It’s about love and all the great things that we talk about on Fringe. To us, it’s the perfect version of what a Fringe [episode] is because it has a great, terrifying element to it that is very Fringe-y. At the same time it has this incredible love story aspect with things that people are going to be very excited for, we believe, as far as the relationships on the show.”
The showrunners also discussed with the press a possible return of Charlie Francis and the unfortunately always looming, impending cancellation of the show. Concerning the former situation, the duo hinted at discussions being had between the show and Charlie’s portrayer Kirk Acevedo about a comeback. And as for the show’s survival odds? “We will find out like everybody else,” said Wyman. “We don’t fret about it because it’s really out of our control. We can only step back and do our work and therein lies the path to serenity. We’re hoping for the best.” So are we, Mr. Wyman. So are we.
Now watch that trailer and get amped for tonight’s pivotal installment of Fringe. It airs at 9PM on FOX.
Take 2. Due to the World Series airing on FOX last Friday, the next pivotal episode of Fringe–you know, the one where Peter Bishop comes back into existence and reunites with his partner Olivia and father Walter–was pushed to the following week. Well, I am excited to report that a week’s time has indeed past and the episode titled “Novation” will air tonight! Before watching tonight’s installment, take a moment to hear what Fringe showrunners J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner have to say about the return of the younger Bishop. “What are the consequences of Peter being back?” posits Pinkner. Tune in to find out.
Fringe airs Friday nights at 9PM on FOX. Bonus video after the break! (Click here for more…)
Fringe fans, the move to Friday hasn’t been too bad now has it? Ratings are holding steady (actually they’re not, see below), and it appears that the loyal hardcare fanbase is sticking with it. And according to FOX execs that’s all they need to confidently renew the fantastic sci-fi series thereby granting it a fourth season. This week producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman shared some intriguing thoughts about the near-term future of the show. “Largely this season has been about the march to war, and it will continue to be so, driven equally by the relationship of Peter and the two Olivias,” Pinkner tells TVLine. “But we’ve got more stuff coming.” Wyman teases, “We can definitely guarantee that the last stretch [of episodes] is going to be very complicated, because you’re going to understand our show in a different capacity. It’s going to stretch your mind and make you think, ‘I never saw that coming.’ We have a few cards to lay down that I don’t think anybody expects. That’s what we feel we owe the fans.”
If you couldn’t process this before, they clearly they have another season on their collective mind. The May finale “will be as much as anything about setting up next season,” says Pinkner. Adds Wyman, “It’s like when you read a great novel and you finish a chapter, you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, something happened that’s going to propel me forward!’ That’s something we desire to emulate.”
Bring it. Fringe airs Fridays at 9PM on FOX.
Update: Looks like Fringe isn’t exactly maintaining viewers like I had previously thought. Let’s take a look at the trend since it moved to Friday. “The Firefly”, Fringe‘s Friday debut, attracted 4.8 million viewers (1.9/6 in 18-49 demo); that was up 12% from its last original Thursday airing. Great start. The following week FOX aired “Reciprocity” and the ratings held steady at 4.6 million viewers (1.9/6 in 18-49 demo). The next episode “Concentrate and Ask Again” started the rocky spiral descent; viewership dropped 16% to 4.2 million viewers (1.6/5). And that brings us to last night’s episode; “Immortality” garnered 3.7 million viewers (1.4/6)–that’s a 13% drop from the previous ep. This is certainly a cause for concern when it comes to thinking about season renewal. The hardcore fanbase needs to stick with this show if FOX is going to pick it up for another season. Obviously these early numbers do not take into consideration DVR numbers (Fringe typically picks up the slack in time-shifted viewership), so these low figures may increase over the next few days. The bottom line is this: if Fringe wants to see another year to live, YOU have to tune into the show when it airs Fridays @ 9PM. Plain and simple. If you must, DVR it and watch it later. Tell your friends about it. The producers have promised they have “years of story left to tell” so it would be nothing short of a catastrophe if FOX eliminated it from its schedule prematurely.
Update 2: Recently FOX entertainment president Kevin Reilly shared his thoughts on Fringe‘s early surge when it first moved to Friday nights. He said, “I’m so psyched about it. It does go to show you the loyalty of the genre audience, when you get the right show. I’m so grateful to that audience, I’d like to shake their hands. We have a lot of passion for that show here.” Even though Reilly released this statement before last Friday’s dip in ratings, it does go to show his massive amount of support behind the show. If ratings can pick up again and begin to level out, I have no doubt in my mind Fringe will return for another season next fall.
This week EW’s Jeff Jensen sat down with Fringe executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman to discuss the future of Fringe and thoughts about FOX’s decision to shift the sci-fi program to Friday nights. Here are some choice quotes from the interview.
Wyman on the parallel universe episodes: “You definitely haven’t seen the last of the ‘over there’ world. We’ve established that both of these worlds are linked in a profound way. We are going to attend to that. We are going back ‘over there.’ It’s not going to be forgotten about, but we’re not going to be ‘one on, one off’ right now.”
Pinkner on FOX’s “initial resistance” to the parallel universe storyline: “They were really concerned that if the episodes didn’t have ['over here'] Walter or Peter in them, it wouldn’t feel like our show anymore. We said that not unlike a show likeLost, Fringe has to constantly evolve, to move and grow and go forward, otherwise we’ll get bored, the cast will get bored, the audience will get bored.” Adds Wyman: “The alternate world storyline really allowed us to explore the characters deeper via their doppelgängers, to illuminate characters we already know. It’s been a real gas for all of us involved in making the show.” FOX eventually fell in love with the concept, along with the viewers.
Pinkner on the move to Fridays: “It doesn’t feel loaded to us. It’s not like Fox is saying to us: ‘We’re falling out of love with the show. We’re burning it off by moving it to Friday.” .. “For a year and half now, we’ve been asking and our fans have been asking — to take us off Thursday because the landscape is crowded.” Adds Wyman: “The research shows that people love the show, but they don’t really want to watch it on Thursday night. Thursday is more of a romantic comedy kind of night, not a hard science fiction night,” says Wyman. “We hope our fans follow us to Friday night. It’s a much easier marketplace, and Fox is going to really support it; they think there’s a real opportunity to reinvent the night.” Pinkner concludes: “If this felt like a vote of no confidence from Fox, I’d be concerned. But they’ve verbalized the opposite. They think we have a better chance at staying on the air for years to come, which, of course, is what we want, because by design, we have years of story left to tell.”
Yeah, I added the bold font there for effect. Isn’t this wonderful news? The Fringe execs just confirmed that there’s “years of story to tell” meaning the show will most likely live on past season 3 and potentially even a fourth season. After reading the news about the Friday move I felt a bit weary of the situation, but all of their words of encouragement are really comforting. In the interview the producers also hinted at what’s to come in the second half of the season. The mystery of The First People will receive some attention, and the January 21 returning-from-hiatus episode is called “Firefly” (an ironic nod to the ill-fated 2002 FOX sci-fi series moved to Friday nights, ironic because the name was decided upon before the writers heard about the scheduling shift) and it will focus on The Observers with a special guest appearance by Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) as an old friend of Walter’s.
Fringe returns Friday, January 21 at 9PM on FOX.