'Fringe' exclusive: J.J. Abrams on 'bad' ratings, good vibes, and the show's future

fringe_lIt’s hardly a secret that Fringe is having a tough go of it on Thursday night this season. Last week, the sophomore drama’s audience shrunk to just 5 million viewers — an all-time low. Sure, two weeks of pre-emptions due to baseball didn’t help, but the fact remains: Fringe is struggling.

On the bright side, everyone seems to be in agreement that Fringe has never been better creatively. And inside sources say Fox, although not thrilled with the ratings, remains committed to the show — a fact corroborated by the drama’s boss, J.J. Abrams.

“The mood on set and in the writer’s room is as good as the ratings are bad, which is to say, wonderful,” Abrams tells me. “Luckily, Fox has been insanely supportive, for which we are deeply grateful.”

Abrams is encouraged by the show’s “strong” DVR numbers as well as the glowing reviews from critics. “But given that we’re on one of the hardest [nights] on television, we’re just focusing on making the best show we possibly can,” he says. “What else can we do?”

Bottom line: Fringe is in no immediate danger of going “over there” (a.k.a. TV graveyard). The key word there being immediate.

What do you think? Worried about Fringe‘s future? Got a theory why more people aren’t watching? Should Fox move it to a less-crowded night — and, if so, which one? Sound off below!

PHOTO CREDI: Liane Hentscher/Fox

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  • Ali

    Please move it back to Tuesday. My DVD is full on Thursday. I love this show but I don’t have time on Thursday.

    • nikkido

      I miss it on Tuesday night. There is nothing to watch Tuesday and too much on Thursday.

      • vg

        Yes, move back to Tues!!

        I watch it on hulu, I’m wondering if they count internet viewing in ratings

      • the future

        the bell is starting to toll….unless moved back to Tuesday night..I watched it then..to much else on on Thursdays..plus you lose the guys entirely due to football on Thursdays

      • Zoey

        Yes! That’s what I say! WTF is with networks this year? They have to shove all the good shows on Thurs and leave the rest of the week barren and boring. Back to Tuesday! I can’t watch it because I watch Supernatural. I mean yeah, DVR or online, but I like to watch it LIVE.

      • sandy

        Yeah…I have no idea why they moved it to Thurs. It was doing fine on Tues and it should go back to Tues.

      • Austin

        I wholeheartedly agree. Fringe is better than ever this season, and it makes me sad that no one can realize that when everything else in the world is on Thursdays too. Why does Fox always ruin good shows by putting them on the wrong night (cough-Dollhouse-cough)?!

      • Jen

        Ditto. I DVR Greys, Bones, Supernatural, Private Practice, Fringe, and Vamp Diaries! It’s INSANE!

      • little_ozzo

        Would get killed against NCIS and NCIS LA. Move it to wens. after Glee.

      • DAVE LESTER

        FRINGE IS GREAT. DONT MAKE THE MISTAKE THE OLD UPN MADE AN CANCIL ENTERPRISE FOR A BRITTENY SPEARS SHOW.I CAN ONLY HOPE WHO MADE THAT CALL IS LIVING IN A BOX UNDER A LA FREEWAY

      • A.J. Simon

        Absolutely agree – Thursday is so jam packed as it is with 30 Rock, the Mentalist, and Globetrekker yet Tuesday has NOTHING – FRINGE is great, Joshua Jackson is the man (should have been Anakin, but I guess he is glad that did not work out) and Walter is just plain awesome.

      • MK

        It’s funny…we all clearly watch a different slate of shows on Thursdays but the recurrent theme is that Thursday is overcrowded. I have a dual tuner Tivo and am still forced to watch at least one show (30 Rock) live or miss it entirely because I’m taping Supernatural, Flash Forward, Fringe and Vamp Diaries. ENOUGH with the Thursday. Move Fringe back to Tuesday (just not opposite V please!)

      • Diane

        I agree what the heck. One night everything, and other nights nothing. DUH, who’s brainy idea is that?

      • AaronT

        MK we must have the same tastes – I record the exact same shows and watch the same one live. I don’t understand how on one night I have more shows to tape than my Tivo can handle, and the rest of the week there’s hardly anything on.

      • Jaime

        Yes please move the show back to Tuesdays. I absolutely love this show & do not want to see it end because of the too crowded time slot!! Fringe is AWESOME!!

    • LTC

      This makes no sense. You have a great show and put it on a difficult night. It doesn’t do well so you cancel. The mindset seems to be, when your slot or die. Thursday at this time each channel (except NBC) has a good show.
      I’m a Supernatural fan and I just can’t switch over to Fringe yet (this being Supernatural’s last season), but I do watch it later.
      PLEASE MOVE FRINGE TO ANOTHER NIGHT. It will do much better on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday or even a different time on Thursday. Why must it win against CSI or Greys, .
      Move it and up against the other garbage on at other times, it should do quite well.

      • SteveStrifeX

        This isn’t Supernatural’s last season. Both Jensen and Jared are signed on for a season 6 (it was noted that the direction of the series will change dramatically after this season… that’s all the scoop I have for now though, it was unclear what that means)

      • Zoey

        As much as I lvoe SN, I wish this was the last season. I can’t see it doing anything after this. I mean, come on. The Apocalypse. Where else can you go? But if they can do another one and nail it, by all means, have another season!

      • Amanda

        There’s nothing saying that this will or won’t be another season of Supernatural. The boys are contracted for 6 years, and Kripke isn’t. But ultimately neither means anything if the CW decides not to pick it up for another year. As for Fringe, Fox should do something smart for once and move it back to Tuesday where it may actually have a chance to survive.

      • Ashaloo

        Well this is Fox we’re talking about. They’re infamous for putting amazing shows in terrible slots and then canceling them when they don’t perform well.

        If Firefly was good enough to make a well-selling movie from, then why was it canceled?! Stupid move, Fox. Cancel Fringe and Alan Tudyk won’t be the only one throwing an “I don’t work for Fox anymore” party.

      • Vick

        LOL @ “Except NBC”. NBC has got to be the worst network TV out there. All my shows are on ABC, some on CBS and of course, Simpsons & Fringe on Fox. Thursdays are swamped with shows, I can only catch Fringe at 11 from my West coast stations. Move it to Tuesday, and there’s your ratings boost, doesn’t take a genius to figure that.

      • Cherish

        I agree with everyone. Fringe is one of the best shows on tv but I’m sick of having to miss out on The Office and 30 Rock (Grey’s Anatomy is already DVRed for life) because of it. I think the perfect day is Monday because Hero’s sucks royally and I’ve just been waiting for a great excuse like Fringe to take it off my DVR. Talk about a show thats tanked and is hanging on by a thread. Speaking of which, Tuesday could be a great night too. They need to remove So You Think You Can Dance and put on Fringe again. SYTYCD is a summer show which is the reason I got into it in the first place, don’t try to give it to me when there is actually good TV on. That show is by far the worst disappointment of the year,the contestants are boring, Adam Shankman is annoying, and the whole thing is too much “dance” for the Fall prime time season. Give me back Fringe on Tuesdays and I’m a fan for life.

    • AngieLam

      Agrred. Tuesday night is best for me too. And there’s nothing else on, so plenty of room to grow.

      • Davey

        I think everyone is forgetting about the two-hour show that already is on the FOX netowrk on Tuesday night….a little show called So You Think You Can Dance. I love Fringe and all, but there is already a show on Tuesday that does quite well in the ratings!

    • AA

      Another vote for Tuesday!!

    • Asheligh

      Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday!!!!!!

    • tvgirl48

      Another vote for Tuesday. Why is the Tv schedule so out-of-whack this year? Too much on one night, not enough on others. Sorry, but Fringe is an online viewing appointment for me.

      • Heidi

        I DVR it as well – Tuesdays would be fantastic. Though if I was a neilson box owner I’d be DVR’ing the shows with more viewers and focusing my vote on great shows like this one.

    • Bonnie

      They got cocky. Move it back to Tuesday. There’s not much else on and Thursday is full. I’ve been watching Fringe online when I can, but it’s tough to keep up. Thursday is already established.

      • Larz

        I bet Fox is counting the days until American Idol starts, lol! They don’t have too much to offer, sadly.

    • Annie

      I agree! This show has it all except the correct time. Put it opposite to sitcoms which are mindless repeats of past storylines. All we are asking? Give Fringe a chance.

    • marna

      please return to Tuesday! I AM watching, and love the show, but I am watching at the Fox online/full episodes site, on Fridays!

    • Jackie

      Yes i have to watch on internet not the same. Please move.

    • Denis Flannigan

      I think you have the answer move it back to Tuesday! It’s just common sense.

    • Skip182

      You’re absolutely right about the DVR thing. You can only record so many shows at the same time and have to pick and choose what to watch. This year I chose Fringe over my beloved The Office :(

      • Ashaloo

        WOW!! I don’t know if I could do the same in your shoes… Big move!

      • Tim

        Good call, NBC is going down the tubes anyway, they begged Jay to come back for an early primetime show to boost their pathetic ratings. The Office is pretty much decent enough to watch but not against Fringe, CSI, Grey’s Anatomy.

      • cjscott

        I would definitely watch Fringe over the Office but unfortunately, I’m outvoted by the Hubby on this one. We have so many shows we watch (and DVR) that Fringe gets left out. Why the heck do they put all the good shows on two nights a week? We watch NOTHING on Tuesdays.

    • Lola

      YES – thursday is packed with nothing else the rest of the week. PLEASE move it!! (like the 9:00 slot, though!)

    • Cris

      Agreed!

    • Payday

      Please move Fringe back to Tuesdays. It would be great to watch V on ABC at 8pm, then turn to Fringe at 9pm on FOX. I hate that I am missing The Office as well. You can only DVR so much. Sci-Fi shows have a smaller audience to start with and putting it up against mainstream (sitcoms and dramas) is a recipe for disaster. Fox please leave at least one show that a person with a brain enjoys watching!

    • Dirk

      When they announced Fringe was being moved to Thursdays at 9pm EST, my girlfriend and I were aghast. Between watching live, videotaping (no DVR) and downloading, we have: Flash Forward (I watch live), Vampire Diaries (she watches live), Supernatural (we both watch live), CSI (she tapes); Fringe, Community, and 30 Rock get downloaded and watched together. It’s a pain and unless you have U-Verse, you’re pretty hosed.

      Who the heck at Fox is remaining employed after taking a show doing fine in its debut slot and shoving it in next to firmly established ratings juggernauts?!? I know stupid American Idol is their big Tuesday night thing, but why not leave it where it was? If they had to move it – cuz there’s no way that other stupid dance show could go unopposed – why not put it on Fridays (I know; death slot) and have it lead into Dollhouse?

      But, nooooooooooooooooooooooo! Instead of doing that, they leave Dollhouse screwed with lame sitcoms for lead-ins and Fringe is getting battered in the ratings. One has already died; shall the other, too?

    • Tracy

      Glad I’m not the only one who’s DVR is full on Thursdays. I’m missing out on the office and watching it a day late online. If they switch days It better not be Mondays Sundays or Fridays. Those are full too. Better off to make it tuesday or wednesday.

  • Ali

    *DVR

    • Frank Anderson

      Yeah, I have all the eps from this season waiting to get watched. I wanted to sit down when I could watch a big block of them.. but so far there are only three eps!

      Don’t you hate it when a show struggles like this? What the hell was Fox thinking moving this to this night? They are crazy if they cancel it without moving it to a different night first.

      • Fatima

        There have been 6 episodes this season! 5/6 are still on Hulu!

      • James

        Actually, all 6 episodes are still online, though the premiere goes away in a few days.

    • Q

      Fox still had baseball on their schedule for this past week – my DVR did not pick up the latest ep!

      • Leslie

        That’s what happened to me, too. MLB was still scheduled, and there was no listing saying what would be on to replace it if the game wasn’t necessary. Luckily I looked to see what was on and caught Fringe. Great show – please move it to somewhere it will have a chance!!!

  • Sam

    Fringe should move back to Tuesdays! There’s nothing else on and it’ll do a lot better!

  • hc

    come on Fox, don’t make a mistake, keep supporting it! this is a great show!!

  • Beth

    I give Fox credit for sticking with the show through November sweeps instead of shelving it like they did Dollhouse, but why did they show a new episode this past Thursday? That even kills the DVR ratings, since I know my DVR listed baseball as on that night. I know Fox can’t control how many games the Series goes, but seems to me they could have held off a week and properly advertised the new show.

    • Sadie

      I agree. I saw that it was on AFTER it started and my DVR didn’t record it! Now, I have to record this week’s episode and WAIT to watch it because Fox doesn’t make shows available online until 8 DAYS later – which I HATE. I have to wait until Friday to watch last weeks’ episode before I can watch the one that I will record this Thursday. SO irritating!

      • doug

        It’s on HULU the next day, anf that plays better than Fox’s website anyway.
        I also agree with the idea of moving it back to Tuesdays

      • Sean

        Fox almost always has episodes from the previous night ready online the next day. I watched last week’s Fringe episode on saturday.

      • dgh

        tvshack.net as new episodes the next day!!!!

    • Em

      WHAT?!!? I had no idea there was a new one last week! Lame.

      • MDP

        The World Series was listed I think, so many DVR players didn’t catch the new episode- and of course, if you are trying to watch it in real time- you wouldn’t have seen that it was on. I am so annoyed!

      • helpful
    • Meredith44

      Me too! It happened with Bones as well. As if Thursdays aren’t hard enough.

      And that is my reasoning for why Fringe is doing poorly. It just isn’t ever going to be watched live by me given its competition. Grey’s is watercooler fodder at work and Supernatural is huge online. Thus I need to watch both of those ASAP so I can follow discussions (and decrease the risk of being spoiled). Add in CSI also being on at that time (I don’t watch, but it’s ratings are big), and there is not much audience left for Fringe.

    • TV on the Brain

      I , as well, caught that it was on instead of baseball a bit late. Thankfully, I got the prog. scheduled and had it watched, but still, it was horrible planning on the part of Fox.

      Thursday nights are, in fact, rather hard on TV shows. I’m surprised that Fox put it there, but we’ll see just how it does.

      I’m FINALLY caught up with the show (started a bit late), but this is one of those shows that’s definitely worth watching.

  • Hannah

    Please please please move it back to Tuesday! It would win that night. It’s competing right now against some of the strongest audiences for tv shows. Plus, my TiVo is too stressed on Thursdays. I need something on Tuesdays!

    • Amy

      I agree… I have no shows to watch or record on Tuesdays, but Thursdays my DVR is just swamped… Bones, Flash Forward, Fringe, Project Runway, Tosh.0… and I had to dump The Vampire Diaries because I can only record two shows in one time slot (sorry, but Bones and Flash Forward won that one).

      I would love it if the show moved back to Tuesday.

      • ej

        I agree with this so much

  • Kerry

    First off, moving it to Thursday was STUPID. There is nothing on Tuesday! Everything is on Thursday now. Secondly… it was ON last week? My DVR didn’t record it? Stupid baseball screwed everything up.

    • stupid baseball

      I prefer to be called ” I am now possesed by TV…series should end late October…TV execs have ruined series by late air date

  • hayfurs

    Baseball was on FOX in my neck of the wooods on this past Thursday night (FL). Fringe was not an option.

    • jcdc13

      Baseball was on the schedule, but the world series was over before Thursday.

  • trina

    You know, viewership may have been so low because even the guide channel showed Baseball scheduled; not Fringe. I would have watched (and was really looking forward to watching) when it originally aired had I known it was playing. I couldn’t even DVR it because the Guide showed Baseball and not Fringe. (Same with Bones!) I bet viewership will pick up next week, since the schedule should be uninterrupted.

  • The Observer

    if Fringe gets canceled, someone should make a foxsavefringe.com with a similar premise as mileysavefuzzy.com!

  • Raked

    Actually, I just wrote about this on my blog this weekend. I’m glad there is no immediate danger, but I certainly think we need to get these ratings up and fast!

    • Brandon

      The best way to do that, is to move it to Tuesdays, no way am I given up CSI on Thursdays to save a new show, I’ve been watching CSI for like ten years.

  • chris

    Yes, move it back to Tuesday. It was a bad move switching it to Thursday going against faves such as CSI, Grey’s & Supernatural.

    • Ama

      How could you leave out the office.

  • Rich G

    Very much agreed. Any day but Thursday!

  • Bryan ReadJunk

    Move the show to Tuesday! Or have it be a lead-in for 24 in January. Thursdays are just too crowded with shows so I never get any time to watch Fringe when it originally airs.

    • James

      Can’t have Fringe lead 24. You need House, or even better, Lie to Me, lead off before 24 in the winter. Fringe should continue to follow American Idol on Tuesdays in the winter, and I think it’ll do fine.

  • davidsask

    It’s all Fox’s fault by banished it to Thursday, they have noone to blame but themselves. I hope JJ. has contacts with other networks or cable outlets to take the show elsewhere when Fox kills a good thing!

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