While many were home watching the New York Giants handle the Atlanta Falcons on Fox, the network giant, Fox President of Entertainment, Kevin Reilly addressed the Television Critics Association in Pasadena on Sunday afternoon. Reilly soured the return of Fringe’s new episodes that will begin airing this week on January 13, by saying that while the show is a point of pride, it is an expensive show and that a sitdown with the Fringe team is needed to determine its future but at this point those discussions have not been started.
So it appears that cost cutting will be needed if fans are going to see a fifth and hopefully last season. Even if it’s an abbreviated 13 episodes to get the series over 100 total episodes, fans will take what they can get. As we all know, the major networks need those numbers, and live viewers more so than anything (not fast-forwarding past the commercials) and Fringe simply does not bring them in enough to make up for the cost of the show. If both sides can’t come to some type of solution, look for at least a tidy ending for Season 4.
“Please don’t start the letter writing campaign right now,” Reilly said. “I can’t take it.”
Also strangely not yet decided is whether or not a second season of Terra Nova is on the slate. Production must know in the coming weeks if it is to make the 2012 fall schedule. Terra Nova was also plagued by the much-famed expensive pilot episode yet ratings were decent enough and general reception was overall positive. Reilly admitted that “creatively, it was hunting.”
I’ll never understand why Fox dips into science fiction. The stories tend to be serial in nature and build off each other. There’s no secret that shows like Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse and Firefly and Josh Friedman’s Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles all suffered in a lack of support from the network. These are big idea shows, with exciting results, but they’re not cheap. Even X-Files took a few years to catch on to the general public (and eventually began its slide in quality in my opinion).
I would rather these shows be made and supported by budget-conscious and creative cable channels than have fans and viewers repeatedly invest themselves in these shows only to have money be the recurring barrier for their success. Maybe it was better that they never picked up horror/comic book adaptation of Locke & Key. Something tells me that it would have suffered the same limbo state. I’m sorry Fox, but spare genre fans the trouble and leave these shows to more patient and supportive networks. Also, Lost numbers were a freak occurrence. Let’s stop thinking every genre show can attain those numbers at every try.
But money is not just an issue for the sci-fi genre. House is also struggling to know if its return next year is clear. When a show is stretched out this long, it becomes a more expensive show to produce (as salaries rise with each season) and it’s drawing in less viewers. Should this be the final season of House, Reilly did say the ending would not be “unceremonious” and like Fringe and Terra Nova, big decisions and meetings with House creator David Shore are imminent.
In animation news, Allen Gregory is done but the network is still in talks with Jonah Hill. Bob’s Burgers is looking very promising for a return next year and there is much hope for Napoleon Dynamite which is premiering on January 15 at 8:30pm. Also Reilly said that Fox will be developing a Saturday late-night animated block of “alternative” animated shows in the same vein as Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup.
Other things Reilly discussed:
• There will not be a Glee spinoff show, but they are exploring ways to follow graduating characters.
• Reilly was not deterred by the saturation of singing and talent competition shows but did predict a down year for American Idol citing that’s what happens with shows that are 11 years old. Ryan Seacrest’s contract with American Idol is nearing the end and is currently being courted by NBC.
• The X-Factor gave Fox a very successful fall season however changes could be coming for Season 2, including a change at host.
• A new format for So You Think You Can Dance will be unveiled this year and the network is looking at exploring more opportunities for new programming during the summer months for fear of weeks that bring no ratings.
• Reilly gave a final vote of confidence to I Hate My Teenage Daughter and is proud how it has begun to find its audience but expressed that he believes that multi-camera comedies work best in pairs. He reassures fans that the final six-seven episodes will air in the future.