Fringe went back to its roots for the final session at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.
The session began with a special taped video message from co-creator and executive producer J.J. Abrams, who penned multiple episodes during the first two seasons of the cult Fox drama, thanking critics and fans for supporting the series -- an act that would continue on throughout the 45-minute session.
“We can have parties with every single fan in attendance,” Abrams joked of Fringe's small audience before reassuring the room that it would be the best season yet.
The genesis of season four’s pivotal 19th episode, which is set in 2036 and served as backdoor pilot – for lack of a better word – according to showrunner J.H. Wyman, who is without usual partner-in-crime Jeff Pinkner, was also explained. (Pinkner exited before the final season began.) “We tried out 19 [to see] how people engaged with it,” he said, adding that he and some of the producers “wanted a concept.” Traditionally on the show, episode 19 has been used for episodes “off the beaten path.”
During the course of the series run, Wyman confessed that “there probably have been three or four endings” that were being toyed with.
“The show has a natural ending. It’s something that we know is right. How that takes shape is always in flux,” Wyman said.
For the actors, just three days into production on season five as Joshua Jackson admitted, it’ll take some time for the finality of it all to sink in: “I don’t think we’re quite there yet.”
“We are a little cult show with a cult following that you’re able to do it right,” Anna Torv said to the roomful of reporters. “Knock it out of the park, that’s the gift Fox gave us,” Jackson said.
A question that has become a regular for Fringe is that of Emmys’ omission for John Noble, who plays the socially awkward scientist Walter and was not present at the panel.
“We feel like probably a lot of you guys,” Wyman confessed when asked about the lack of mainstream notoriety for Noble. “I’m sitting in the editing room going, ‘Wow.’ I don’t understand. If it’s the issue of it being a science-fiction show, I don’t know.”
But he remained positive that one day, recognition would be given. “I’m trying to believe that the cream will always rise to the top... Hopefully somebody somewhere will realize what this man is doing,” he said.
Fringe premieres Sept. 28 at 9 p.m. on Fox.