The executive producers of the popular series talks about the season
Fringe is one of the biggest hits of the Fox lineup and it is currently airing on Thursday nights at 9 PM ET on Fox. Two of the biggest reasons for the show's success are executive producers Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman and the producers recently held a conference call to discuss the new season. Here's what they had to say.
In the season finale, the Peter storyline, obviously it's kind of a large bombshell, it's kind of been on the back burner though a little bit his season. When can we expect to have that revisited?
Joel Wyman: We're definitely, definitely going to revisit it this season, and we're going to get into all, some details, and we're going to follow that through.
Any sort of specific timeline or just this season?
Joel Wyman: I would just say it's slowly unraveling throughout the season.
Jeff, when you look at Alias and you look at Lost and you look at Fringe, in my mind these are three really, really brilliant shows, but they've all had sort of rating issues. Is it the time slot, is it the complexity, what do you think people are looking for, and why do you think people are not tuning in, in larger numbers?
Jeff Pinkner: I think that, it's funny, JJ Abrams and I have had this conversation on more than one occasion, and I think that Fringe, Lost, Alias, absolutely there's a time slot issue, but at the end of the day, it's more important to us that people fall in love with the shows. I've said before that these shows to me are like licorice, not everybody likes licorice, but the people that like licorice, love it. And I think it's always been more important to us that we create shows that people can get passionate about. And the truth is, there's only so much time in the day to get passionate about something, and there's a lot of really great shows on. We never take it as a indication of the quality of our shows, how many people watch. It's more important to us that the people that watch, really care about it deeply.
Joel Wyman: Yes.
I recently saw the Observer at my softball game and I was very concerned. He's getting out there. At this point, it's pretty clear that Josh and Anna and John are perfect for what they're doing, but did you see in them early on in the process of putting the show together that made them the right people for you?
Joel Wyman: You mean as far as actors?
Yes. Well, as actors and those people, yes.
Joel Wyman: But you don't mean the character, right, you're talking about the-
I'm talking about the actors for filling the characters, yes.
Joel Wyman: I think that we were attracted to April Webster who is our casting agent as a genius and she has worked with JJ for a long time, dating back to Felicity, and his features in Alias and Lost and Fringe. And she knows that we're attracted to actors who aren't necessarily like, "TV stars" or like a certain look or a certain type, but that we're actually looking more for like actors who can convey a lot, a lot, a lot of back story and life and depth in a sense of real life, in a sense that there's a lot going on before the show starts and after it ends. And then we tend to, there's a pilot script, but the voice of the characters develop over those first few weeks when the role becomes more the actor and the actor becomes more the role. There are times where Joel Wyman and I will talk to John Noble over the phone and we'll look at each other, because we're not sure whether we're talking to John or Walter, and at times it's a little bit disturbing too. And we shouldn't leave out Lance Reddick and Blair Brown and Jesika Nicole, these are spectacular actors who can do anything we ask of them.
Jeff Pinkner: Yes.
What was the process of developing the Observers and how they look and how they act and whatnot?
Jeff Pinkner: I'll take this, because this proceeded Joel Wyman:, but the development of the character, Joel Wyman:, has been deeply involved in, but sort of the initial notion proceeded him a little bit. We were looking for something that was sort of iconic and at the same time, we were fascinated with the idea of all the little things that go on under our nose every day. The construction workers, the guys working on telephone poles, those like weird marks on the sidewalk and you don't quite know what they're for, the last couple of remaining payphone booths, when all the rest have been removed. We wanted The Observer to have a quality of being invisible. And we put him in the first three episodes of the show and then finally revealed him in the fourth, and people look back and went, "Oh my God, he was right there, he was right under my nose and I didn't see it." And then the notion of some of his characteristics, the bald head, the no eyebrows. We imagined how it would be that somebody who wasn't of our world would end up in our world and what sort of like the process of getting here would entail; and the fact that his senses were largely deadened and so it took a lot of stimulation for him to feel anything, so that led to the hot tempers and some of these other characteristics of his character.
So now we have a episode called August and we had an Observer named September. Are we going to find out where this is going to lead us and what this means?
Joel Wyman: Yes. You definitely will. I mean it's funny, because Jeff had pointed out on several occasions that Josh Jackson did an interview last year where he actually let it slip of the name of one of The Observers. Our fans are so great at figuring things out, kind of heading us off at the path, and I think they're going there, but nobody really got it, so it's sort of out there already last year. You could search that if you could fine it, I'm not going to say where.
Well, there's already theories that I'm reading about why they'd be called one month over another.
Joel Wyman: Yes.
What is truly special about this episode that is coming up, why should we tune in?
Jeff Pinkner: It's free. It's free entertainment. I think what's special about it is, well what's special about it to us, and when we talked about it, what became really important to us is in the world of like the mythology of the show. There's all kinds of things that had just been hinted at or alluded to. We've seen the tip of the iceberg and now we see a lot more below the waterline in this episode. What makes this special to Joel Wyman: and I certainly is that it's a story driven a hundred percent by emotion and it's a story where this character who in many ways is unknowable in other, is driven by emotion, and at the end of the episode hopefully you feel something. If you tune in and by the time the shows over you felt something, then I think Joel Wyman: and I feel really satisfied that we've done our job, and then everything else that you learn along the way of the little, all the fun things, the surprising things, the troubling things, the disturbing things, the intriguing things, are greater.
Joel Wyman: Yes, it's definitely, for people who are interested in Observers, it definitely gives us, it qualifies them to a certain degree for everybody. It will definitely open up a whole other line of concept and a whole other line of understanding for the viewer to sort of say, "Oh, my gosh, that's really interesting." Part of the thing that we struggle with on a weekly basis, to us that the best science fiction sort of deals with very human conditions, like Isaac Asimov and a great writer like that, the more out there on Sci-Fi it becomes, the more it reveals human condition. And this is one of those episodes that we feel very passionately about in that regard, because the entire episode reveals itself to be about a very human emotion. And the way we chose to tell this episode is through the eyes of somebody who's not human and we tried to really reach for that, which we try to do on a weekly basis, but I think we're very successful in this one.
What kind of a journey are we on this season?
Joel Wyman: It's a journey of self actualization for our characters, that's kind of what separates last year from this year. Jeff and I always refer to last year, specifically as a prolog for the series, where you get to understand the characters initially. You get to understand what's going on, you learn something about the pattern, and you learn everything that you would need to sort of situate yourself and enjoy the series. In this season, we're really looking to get deeper into our characters and have people sort of really participate with them and watch their evolution, whether it's Walter's emancipation this season and how he's having more of his own awakening; whether it's Peter and discovering things about himself and about the others that he works with and his place in the world; and Olivia, in the same regard. You get to really see the cases a little bit more this year through the eyes of our people, whereas last year I think that if there were subtleties that we would place in, a lot of people, they wouldn't really be able to get it. Because they didn't have a point of reference or a point of contact, whereas now, because we have so much contact that even the smallest little lines could have a tremendous amount of meaning which frees us up a lot to be a little bit more subtle and tell a lot more story.
Jeff Pinkner: I think one of the first gentlemen who asked a question, I apologize, I forget his name, pointed out how our characters have become a family by now, I think- In season one, it was sort of a family coming together, and in season two, the family secrets come out.
Joel Wyman: Yes.
I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about some of the upcoming episodes? Any particular episodes that are, well they're all exciting, but-
Joel Wyman: Yes, thank you. Sure, in the next handful of episodes coming up, I think we deal with an outbreak type condition. We deal with one our favorite scenes in the show that we constantly come back to is perception, and what we see with their eyes might not necessarily be the truth. It might not necessarily be, our eyes may blind us to certain things and we tell an episode that's really sort of big and fun and crazy about how and what it is that we think we're seeing isn't necessarily the truth. In a couple episodes, we sort of like drop a bombshell for our characters and one is like the big dormant secrets. One of the bombs under the table as to where it goes off, and it's sort of like, well, perhaps it will blow apart our team and certainly it will change the nature of their relationship.
Jeff Pinkner: Yes.
Joel Wyman: We delve a little bit more directly with the fact of the alternate universe and what's going on over there and how it may affect our world.
Yes, a little bit more of Nimoy on the show too.
Joel Wyman: Little things like that.
Jeff Pinkner: Sorry?
I love Leonard Nimoy on the show too.
Joel Wyman: He's fantastic, right?
Jeff Pinkner: He is.
How did The Observers come about, whose idea was this?
Joel Wyman: As you say that real quick though, I failed to mention that we also have a kind of really cool episode coming up that deals with Walter's memory and William Bell specifically.
Joel Wyman: How The Observers came up? When we first started imagining, there was a pilot, and when we first started like ... blue sky and what the series would look like, The Observers was one of the first ideas that came up in our earliest conversation. And it was just sort of the idea of, JJ said earlier today in a conversation, that when you just start to imagine a world, you start to think what would be really fun, and sometimes you just want to like surprise yourself, and give yourself a really cool puzzle. One of the one's that came to mind was what if there were these characters who by all accounts all they did was watch, and our team, Olivia specifically, and ... realized that there are these events that seem significant to them. But suddenly when that is, they realize there's a guy who seems to be at all these events around the world, sometimes two, almost simultaneously watching that they take on a whole new heightened significance, and of course he does, and part of it's funny. We just thought this bald man in a black suit was funny.
I was going to ask if Peter discovers his true origin before the end of the season?
Joel Wyman: Does Peter discover his own life?
Jeff Pinkner: It's funny, my wife likes to read the last page of a book first and it drives me crazy, and she claims to still enjoy it knowing the end. But she can't stand the suspense, and she sits me down and like won't give me dinner until I tell her secrets about the show, and I refuse. So in this instance, I think it's best that, certainly we're in the middle of the story and it's certainly one of the biggest hanging questions, and I think if we gave you a definitive answer one way or another, we'd rob it of a lot of attention.
Well, my other question, can you give us a glimpse of what story lines might be coming up in season three?
Joel Wyman: God willing, we'll have a season three, let's have this phone call again.
Jeff Pinkner: We have a plan, but we can't really- Yes, I mean I wish we could, we really, if we're lucky enough, we have six seasons that we're really excited about. It's such a great show to work on, because we're only limited by our own imaginations. Once you start to get into this wonderful framework of the characters and stuff, it's so much fun. We're constantly saying, "Oh, what about this?" And then all of a sudden, we're like, "Well, that will be a season three thing, yeah," and then before you know it, there's so many things on the season three pile that you realize that it takes shape and you go, "Wow, this is really great," but I wouldn't want to elaborate.
Well, let me ask this then, one more try, you've got so many great things with a great cast and great story lines, are there any creative elements that if you could go back and change you would do them differently?
Jeff Pinkner: That's a good question, that's a really good question. This is going to sound like, yes, of course. There are moments that we wished we played differently, and maybe there's some small choices, but I think we're really happy with where we are right now.
Fringe airs on Thursday nights at 9 PM ET on Fox.