The past and future of 'Fringe'!
Published Mar 25 2011, 13:00 GMT | By Morgan Jeffery
The prayers of every discerning sci-fan have finally be answered. That's right, it's official - Fringe
has been renewed for a full fourth season
. As with last year, the pickup is for 22 episodes, so we've got a fair few adventures of Olivia, Walter, Peter and co. to come yet! In this feature, we're going to be taking a look at the uphill struggle the show has faced, as well as looking ahead at what's to come in the final five episodes of the third run and (feels so good to finally say this) in season four
!The long road...
first debuted on Fox back in 2008 with a two-hour premiere, it attracted a highly respectable 9.13 million viewers. Audience figures for the second instalment were even better, charting at an impressive 13.27m. Ratings for the first season as a whole were healthy and everyone was happy. But once season two hit our screens the following year, something had clearly gone awry. While the season premiere drew in almost 10m viewers, by the time the series reached its second season finale viewership had dropped to just 5.68m. As any anxious Fringe
fan knows, things have only gotten worse since. While third season premiere 'Olivia' saw a small rise to 5.83m, more recent episodes have fallen below the 3m mark.
So what's to blame for the ratings decline? At first glance, it seems baffling when, as most Fringe
fans would agree, the series has only gone from strength to strength. While it's hard to deny that the show was still finding its feet early in the first season, it's since evolved into the best sci-fi drama series (and indeed, one of the best drama series period) on television.
It's easy to lay the blame at Fox's door for the show's most recent audience numbers. Relocating the show to a notoriously difficult Friday night slot
was not exactly a popular move, with even series co-creator J.J. Abrams admitting that he was "horrified beyond belief" by Fox's decision. Still, all things considered, Fringe
has stood up relatively well under fire. The show's current ratings might not exactly be stellar, but as Fox pointed out when announcing the season four renewal, it's still their number one series on Fridays among the key demographic of adults aged 18 to 49.
Perhaps the hard truth to face is that while Fringe
may have got better over its three year run, it's also become less accessible. Fans (and indeed Walter actor John Noble
) may praise the series for moving away from one-off 'monster of the week' adventures towards an epic and complex story arc, but even showrunners Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman
have basically admitted that the show is now all but impenetrable to the casual viewer.
now has a core audience of fans and, sad to say, it's unlikely to attract any new converts any time soon, unless they're willing to dig out the box-sets and catch up with the show from the beginning. We just have to hope that this fan following is enough to sustain the series for the foreseeable future.The future...
Speaking of which, what can viewers expect from the future of Fringe
? You can click here
for a preview of tonight's episode, 'Bloodlines', after which the series takes a brief hiatus until April 15. When Fringe
returns for its final four episodes, the fate of Peter and his link with Walternate's machine will finally be explored in full. Boardwalk Empire
star Emily Meade will also be joining the cast
as an inexperienced-but-eager FBI agent.
The third season's penultimate instalment, 'The Last Sam Weiss', promises to reveal more about the mysterious bowling alley owner who has advised both Olivia and Nina in a time of need, and as for the finale? It's entitled (*gulp*) 'The Day We Died'. Will the device prove to be Peter's undoing? Will Walter make a heroic sacrifice? Or will the two Olivias face off in a fatal showdown?
Only one thing's for sure - with the the future of Fringe
now secure, we're going to see the aftermath of the final episode's dramatic events played out in full! Now Fox, how about putting us Human Target
and Lie To Me
fans out of our misery too?Are you pleased that Fringe has been renewed? Share your thoughts on the series below!