'Fringe' scoop: More on Leonard Nimoy's 'animated' return. Plus: The producers on the show's 'anti-climactic' renewal

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Image Credit: Liane Hentscher/FOX

At least one of Fringe’s nerve-wracking, season-long mysteries has been resolved. SPOILER ALERT! Fox’s ratings-challenged Friday-night sci-fi saga has been renewed for a full, fourth season. The big question: What — and who — will be left standing after the sure-to-be cataclysmic season 3 finale? The show begins answering that question tonight with the first of its final four episodes of the season, a trippy affair that returns Leonard Nimoy to the story, and in a most shall we say animated fashion. “The story finds William Bell’s consciousness still inside Olivia’s body – and causing some major complications,” exec producer Jeff Pinkner tells EW. “Beginning with tonight’s episode, we’re really accelerating the storytelling as we drive toward our season finale, which, as we usually do, will flip things in such a way that opens a door and offers a peek at what next season’s storytelling will be.”  (For more intel of what’s forthcoming on Fringe, Sandra Gonzalez has scoop for you here and here.)

But back to the drama of Fringe’s renewal, which according to Pinkner and his partner-in-showrunning J.H. Wyman wasn’t that dramatic at all. “It was exciting, but also a little bit anti-climactic,” says Pinkner. “I think the fan community felt [Fringe] was more on the bubble than we ever felt.” Never mind the handwringing of fans and cast: Even with the move to Fox’s infamous Friday night “death slot,” the former home of quickly-cancelled sci-fi series Firefly and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and even with viewership that has fluctuated around the 5 million mark for much of the year (not counting DVR numbers), Pinkner and Wyman say they received nothing but positive, encouraging feedback from Fox and the show’s producer, Warner Bros. Television. “What was coming back to us all season was that everyone was loving the show creatively and that everyone was content with the number,” he says. Wyman praises Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly in particular for being “a huge supporter of the show and deeply invested in the programming that Jeff and I are producing.” (That said, Wyman adds that Team Fringe is deeply grateful to all the fans who showed their support for the series by mailing buckets of Red Vines – one of sweets-loving Walter’s fave food stuffs — to Fox HQ.)

The producers say there were no caveats to the show’s full-season, 22-episode pick-up. “There were no creative conditions,” says Pinkner. They also add that they were not asked to produce the show at a reduced budget, either. Will the show remain on Friday night? “We have had no information that it’s staying or moving,” says Pinkner.  “The implied presumption is that it’s staying. If it changes, we won’t know for quite awhile.”

Follow Jeff on Twitter @EWDocJensen


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  • mike

    I love this show. I’m sooooo happy we’re getting a fourth season.

    • Jenn

      This episode was the Down’s Syndroom version of Inception.
      Just horrible.

      • Jacob

        Learn to spell before you insult an intelligent show.

      • Rick

        And maybe learn to spell before you say something incredibly offensive. What the hell is wrong with you?

      • BAReFOOt

        Quit whining, losers. He/she might not be able to spell, but that is unrelated to the fact that the statement still is correct. (See: Basic rules of rational logic, in the mathematical sense.)
        The animations were right down the uncanny valley of creepiness with the wooden walking animations, lagging mouth movements, generally lack of animation detail, especially in the face, and amateurish use of the cel shading.
        Does that sound well-spoken enough for you? (Not that anyone cared about such small-minded individuals’ opinions as yours…)

        Also, if you consider the show intelligent, then I can, without it being a judgment, only conclude you must be quite dumb yourself. The show acts like it is about the scientific explanation for weird phenomena. Yet it doesn’t explain anything (probably because it assumes its watchers are on the level of you all), and is filled up to the ears with esoteric hokum and the propaganda for the world views of religious schizophrenia.
        I do actually know my physics and philosophy to know if something can be scientifically explained. And if something is explainable, I can and do. (That’s my character since I have been a small child.) So I know that they didn’t explain it, because there is no sense in it. It’s just nonsense and blah blah. Even when in most cases, only a small change would be required, to make it make sense, while still staying so simple even a drunk straw man can understand it.

        Well… I guess when one has a one gallon bottle labeled “XXX” in front of oneself, it can pass as a intelligent show…

  • trish

    This show’s season finales are among the most exciting I’ve ever seen. Grade-A storytelling throughout the season and wonderful acting.

    It’s simply a well-crafted drama. Can’t wait for these last episodes and the twist that will carry fans over the summer.

  • Marie

    I love Fringe! Best show on tv. So smart and unique. Everyone on and with the show are amazing! May we have many more wonderful season of Fringe. Other shows pale in comparison to Fringe. X x x keep up the good work

  • tracy bluth

    BEST SHOW ON TV!!!! I’m so happy it’s returning for a fourth season!

  • Chris

    Love this show, but will turn it off if the animated crap continues!

    • 546DC

      Agreed. Brings the show down to a teenage audience.

  • Thomas

    I hope that Nimoy’s purely animated appearance was not due to frailty of health.

  • megan

    I was sooo not feeling this animation. Gosh I was cringing most of the time. No body bash me, this is just my opinion.
    Besides the animation I did enjoy seeing Peter and especially Broyles tripping on acid!

    • rocket J

      So I’m the only guy who thought that was terrific? Come on. Until the animation, I was hoping Peter would make the crack, ‘I guess maybe I shouldn’t have rented inception for date night that time.” My favourite Fringe this season, and there’ve been some great ones.

      • TD

        I thought it was a great ep. Not sure why anyone didn’t like it. I liked the animation and why it was used. For anyone that didn’t like it, I think it was only for this one time.

  • psb1962

    fabulous

  • frank wright

    It ‘s a favorite of mine . I just do
    not trust Fox . Renewing it does not
    mean they won’t cancel it in a few
    episodes next season .If they really
    had faith in it , it would mot be on Friday nights .

    • Brooke

      Not if they feel like it’s their best way to get their highest numbers on a Friday night.

    • Dicazi

      I don’t care WHEN it’s on, as long as it’s ON.

  • jv

    loved the animation! they looked as wonderful as archer!

    • Diana

      It looks like a nice tool, but it seems like these should be clelad loading animations’ or something besides preloaders’.Calling them prelaoders’ seems to be an attempt to glorify them as if they are doing’ something.When I look for preload’ I am looking to load something before it is needed, not show something that the user does not even want to see, while you load the real value after the fact.What if preloaders’ were something that loaded the actual content before it was requested?!If everyone develops preloading into their apps, we will not need these pesky animations.Imagine the worldwide rejoicing!

  • David

    Some of the best books, the best movies and the best shows have great characters and tell great stories that don’t always unfold the way you expect them to. That’s why Fringe is so much fun to watch. The animation was startling on this episode at first, but it worked and the payoff at the end is always worth it. Give me an animated episode of Fringe over a half cooked Hollywood movie any day of the week.

  • David

    I loved Walter’s exclamation, “William, your a cartoon!

  • Jeff

    The animation was a one time device so that Nimoy (who said he was retired from acting) could appear in the show. And it only occurred because it was in Olivia’s mind. So unless they set more episodes in Olivia’s mind, the animation won’t appear again, so calm yourselves.
    I liked the episode, and the scene with Peter and young Olivia was really cute.

  • Paul

    I love this show. One of my favorite series period. That being said I did not really feel the animation

    It is my theory the animation was because of Nimoys character. Either the actions scenes were too much for him or they could not get him on set and did voice only.

    Either way the animation starts right when Dr. Bell and right when Dr. Bell is out of frame (when Petter walks into the house) it leaves the animated world.

    Just a theory. As jeff stated above. I am glad it is most likely a one time event.

    It was not show breaking…but if it was used repeated times I would not be happy.

    On another note … I would love to see another musical episode next season.

  • Anita K

    While I love Fringe, the creepy stuff and the whole alternate universe stories…the animation segment, not so much. And as soon as Belly showed up in Olivia’s conscious, I flashed on how Mr.Spock transferred his into Dr. McCoy in The Search for Spock, not to mention the obvious plagerizing of Inception.
    Am hoping the season finale will leave us wanting more, not less.

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