FOX debuted its highly anticipated but nonetheless risky new J.J. Abrams series Fringe in a special 90-minute episode on Tuesday, September 9. While solid, the ratings were not the blockbuster numbers the producers may have been hoping for. However, audiences will get another chance to tune into the pilot episode at 8 PM ET on Sunday, September 14, and FOX has added some goodies to the evening to spice up the rebroadcast even for those who caught the show the first time. In a conference call, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Fringe co-creators, writers, and executive producers), as well as Jeff Pinkner (executive producer) discussed the pesky ratings and rebroadcast treats.
Pinkner explained that not only will series stars Joshua Jackson (Peter Noble) and Anna Torv (Olivia Dunham) host the rebroadcast, FOX will also show "the first act of episode two at the tail end of the pilot." The second episode, titled "The Same Old Story," will deal with an investigation into the deaths of a woman who experiences a vastly accelerated pregnancy and what the press release describes as a "senior citizen" newborn. FOX will start the ball rolling on the evening with an exclusive first look at a scene from The Day The Earth Stood Still, followed by a preview of 24: Redemption, the two-hour standalone special episode of 24 coming in November.
With treats like these, clearly the network is hoping viewers will check out the rebroadcast, but Kurtzman and Orci insist that they are not concerned about the modest 9.1 million ratings for the pilot. Orci explained, "If it was a movie, we’d be concerned, but a TV show is a marathon, so next week will be more a time to celebrate or be concerned." Given that the episode gained viewers throughout the broadcast and won the desirable 18-49 age demographic, the numbers are promising, especially as Fringe launched earlier in September than other Abrams shows and without a strong lead-in. That changes next week, when Fringe should benefit from following hit show House.
Kurtzman said that the producers took into account that in early September, people would still be finding their way back to their television sets, and the show may need a two or three week ramp-up to find its audience. Fortunately, Fringe has been crafted to be less serialized than a program like Lost. Orci noted, "That’s … why we were trying to be disciplined about having a show you can come in week two, week three or week four and still catch up. If you’ve missed the pilot, it’s okay."
Fringe will have its regular time period premiere at 9 PM ET on Tuesday, September 16, following the 8 PM season premiere of House.