FOX’s new J.J. Abrams show Fringe may have had a slightly disappointing premiere, but last week’s ratings showed that this show has great potential to fill the niche carved out by The X-Files. With hit show House as a lead-in, Fringe was seen by 13.36 million people, which is a 48 percent increase from the debut episode. In a conference call, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Fringe co-creators, writers, and executive producers) and executive producer Jeff Pinkner spoke about their plans for Fringe.
Orci said that the impressive production values in the premiere episode will be carried through in the series and there will be no skimping on resources. He explained, "Part of the production value that you see on the show comes from not shooting in L.A. We very consciously wanted to shoot someplace where the production value would be visible merely as the environment, and so shooting in New York gives us that as well. It gives it a reality."
Given that Fringe shares with fellow Abrams show Lost certain preoccupations with numbers, corporations, and mental institutions, Orci was asked whether it is possible the two shows exist in the same reality. He replied, "I don’t know what the ultimate answer is on Lost. I know what the ultimate answer is on Fringe, so I’m not sure yet if they exist in the same world. That’s actually something that might be fun to think about going forward. But certainly that is not something that we started in the DNA of the premise of this show thinking."
Kurtzman and Orci have always been science fiction fans, and they’ve noticed how slim the gap is now between science and what we’ve assumed would always be fiction. With science and technology news now covering topics like invisibility cloaks, fringe science is a very exciting place to be. Kurtzman says that they wouldn’t have dared pitch an idea like invisibility on Alias, "because it would have sounded too insane, and Alias was as crazy as it gets when it comes to plotting. Suddenly, when that’s actually your reality and your TV has to match up to that, we … felt like there’s just a whole new opportunity here.”
Orci added that fringe doesn’t only refer to the science and can also be read as a code word for looking behind what is presented as reality, in terms of the media. And according to Kurtzman, at a character level, "these characters, while touching fringe science, are also either revealing or being forced to reveal the fringes of their personality." That relationship between the science and character exploration is critical to the show. Asked when the focus on science might be too much, the writer answered, "The balance is obviously tricky, but once the science starts detracting from character tracking, that’s when the science is too much."
Executive producer Jeff Pinkner fielded a question on the possibility of new characters being introduced by saying that no new actors have been hired at this time, but that every episode will have at least one major guest star. New ongoing characters will be forthcoming, however, as "the show takes place in the universe, in a world populated by characters who will come in and out, and they will inform the stories, both episodically and over the season-long and series-long arcs."
Viewers can catch Fringe on Tuesdays at 9 PM ET (FOX), following medical drama House.
Photo credit: Craig Blankenhorn/FOX