Fans of FRINGE were overjoyed to hear the beloved scifi procedural would be returning for a fifth season of thirteen episodes... But with the fourth season still two episodes from wrapping up, it was time to check in with Executive Producers J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner about all things FRINGE. The following is some of the highlights from a round-table phone call held with the producers, talking about the possible return of Leonard Nimoy, what's coming up on the Season Finale, where they were when they heard about the renewal... And the possibility of a touring FRINGE themed baseball league?
On Leonard Nimoy coming back to the show:
J. Pinkner: “We basically erected a sign outside of Leonard’s house which said, “Please come back to Fringe,” and we are hoping that by season five he says yes.””
On the rumored alternate ending to Season Four:
J. Wyman: “We did not shoot an alternate ending. We did not. We thought about it, but we did not.”
Will we see Earth-2 again? And what about Lincoln Lee?
J. Pinkner: “The door is closed because of the problems that David Robert Jones is causing, so if our team can somehow dispense with Jones, there’s absolutely a possibility of that door being opened again. We can’t definitively say anything. Seth is spectacular and awesome and has been such a phenomenal addition to the cast, but as far as his standing going forward, to say anything about that would also be to reveal things that are coming ahead.”
J. Wyman: “Like we’ve always said, nobody’s ever really dead on Fringe.”
Is Season Five already mapped out?
J. Wyman: “Going down the road, the way that traditionally, as we finish the chapter, close it, and then start a new one, we definitely know. When we’re thinking about the end of the season we’re always thinking about the beginning of the next one and where that’s going to take us and what kind of doors it can open. That’s basically how it’s been since the get-go, and it’s no different this year. We definitely know where the series is going to end and how it’s going to end and what we’re saying with the final season.”
Is someone pulling David Robert Jones’ strings?
J. Pinkner “What’s been fun for us is there have been two David Robert Jones’s on our show Jared Harris and both largely the same person almost in every way, existing in two different timelines—and seeing Jared Harris portray this character that for all intents and purposes could be a doppelganger in a much different alternate universe to David Robert Jones. Jared is just spectacular. Is there another bad guy who is pulling his strings or above him? I think we’d be wrong to say anything other than just David Robert Jones … He’s pretty compelling and he’s pretty—nefarious is probably too loaded of a word. He’s definitely a suitable opponent for our team. It’s taken all of them to deal with him.”
J. Wyman: “The ground will shift a little bit and you’ll understand him a little bit deeper.”
How important was social media to saving FRINGE?
J. Wyman: “Massive. It was massive. This is actually a really cool time, I think, in television history, or it will be considered a cool time, where social networks are informing the big networks, like people are talking, people are doing things, people are moving. They go into action for their show, which is great. Before, it used to be like, “Well, we’re going to send a whole bunch of letters,” which is okay, but it’s not this. What this is, what’s going on now, is really empowering for the fans because they feel that they have a platform and a forum to really express to people who may or may not be listening, but the chances are that they are, to express their deep gratitude and love of the show, their support.
Our fans are so incredible that they were calling the sponsors saying, “Hey, I don’t watch it live because I have a job, but you know what? Here’s the thing—I love the show and watch it on DVR. I’m going to buy your product. You must have good taste because you guys are supporting Fringe.”
It was huge for us. I mean, it was a whole movement. Honestly, there’s not a moment where I don’t think how lucky we are to have such incredible fans.”
J. Pinkner: “I think it is absolutely fair to say that without the support of the fans and social media there would be no season five.”
Where does “Letters of Transit” fit in the show’s continuity?
J. Wyman: “It’s hard, because part of our storytelling has always been revealed and recontextualizing what you think you know and what you’ve seen and putting it into a different mindframe for the viewer. Let’s just say that that future is important to our storytelling, but it’s not the be all and end all; there is a reason.
Like, somebody asked us a really cool question the other day—how did we decide to do flashbacks or flash-forwards or whatever? For us, we can honestly say there’s always a reason. There’s always a reason to do it. We’re going to go into the past because we have to put you in that headspace so you can understand this … and figure out where the character is coming from or has been in order for you to get the full experience of what you’re watching today in the present.
That’s how we feel about the Letters of Transit. It was for a reason. Nineteen is traditionally the one that we go off the beaten path, and that was no different. It was definitely off the beaten path. Does it have further implications? It does. You’re going to definitely need to understand what Letters of Transit is or was in order to fully grasp all … things we like to tell this year.”
Where were you when you heard the show would get a fifth season?
J. Wyman: “I was actually getting a guitar fixed. I got a call and it was all these very happy voices. It was such an incredible call because it just came out of nowhere. It was really music to my ears. It was like we were hoping for the best but we really did not know anything. A lot of people were speculating that we did know or that it was a done deal, and a lot of people said it was all business, which really isn’t the case, either. So we just sort of took a couple days off, literally, right, Jeff? It was a couple days.”
J. Pinkner: “By the way, did you guys hear how Joel, the writer, did that? He said he was dropping off his guitar to get fixed and that it was music to his ears.”
J. Wyman: “Only you would notice that.”
J. Pinkner: “I had just dropped my kids off at school. I was walking back to my car and we got a phone call. We were asked to hold for both the studio and the network, which you instantly realize that they’re not all calling to deliver bad news; they’re calling to deliver good news. Graciously, they told us, the two of us simultaneously as well as telling Bad Robot. We were all overjoyed and then they said, “Please don’t tell anybody because we have a plan to announce this to the world.” Joel said, “Well, we have a dedicated, loyal Twitter following and we’d like to tell them.” They said, “Okay, give us a second and then we’ll tell you when you can tell everybody.” Then the day went on a lot before they … before everybody got their act together. We had this really awesome secret for a little while.”
Before the pick-up, what were other plans for the show?
J. Pinkner: “We thought about a traveling Fringe baseball game, that we’ll travel around the country and there’ll be a red team and a blue team and it’ll be populated by identical twins, but it’s a little tough to get off the ground.”
J. Wyman: “Personally, I was irresponsible, and maybe not in the best way, because I was at WonderCon or ComicCon. I said if there was no pickup we’re definitely going to try to finish off the stories by hook or by crook. It’d have to be comic books that will actually try to give some closure to the fans.
We meant it at the time. I think now that we have the 13, that’s not a far out idea. I love comics, and Jeff does, too. I think if there was a significant story where we were like, “You know what? I think people really want to know more about this aspect of the show that really wasn’t maybe covered 100% and they’re really interested,” then yes, that would be something that we would consider, I’m sure.”
On finishing off Season Four:
J. Wyman: “This is the analogy that I think that suits us the best. Imagine you’re on an airplane and you start to read a great novel and something that you’re really enjoying. You get through it, you get through it, and then there’s a whole other layover and you get to read four more chapters. You sort of get to the end of a chapter where there’s going to be a new beginning and you realize okay, now it’s time to get off the plane and you need to go about your business.
You’re stuck with that lost chapter and you feel like okay, that was very satisfying, although I can understand that there’s another book. If I can get my hands on that other book in the next 15 minutes, I swear I would read it. But I’ve just finished this version and while it’s complete, I still have a longing to understand the characters in a deeper fashion and to imagine where they’re going to go after this logical conclusion after I just read.
So that’s kind of how we look at the end of every season. That’s why we sort of felt like the inadvertent design of Fringe and how it became that ended up being a blessing. You’re sort of protected because you’re closing one chapter and then beginning another.
You’ll see in the finale it’s like okay, I can understand how the show can end, but I’m interested in going further. That’s sort of how we approach it. It’s like look, we close every single season with a chapter. When Peter disappeared, that could have been an ending. I mean, it would have been, “Whoa, wait—what is that? What happened?” but it would have been an ending of sorts. Like okay, Peter had to sacrifice himself in order to save his family. Okay, I’m not happy about that but I understand it. Then you can imagine one day that they would meet again or something like that.
So we just finished the conclusion. We finished the season conclusion in a manner that we feel is authentic and real for that season and then we use that as a push-off point to go and tell another aspect of the story that we hope the people will be interested in.”
The new episode of FRINGE premieres on FOX, tonight at 9PM!