Fringe showrunners Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman have a lot on their plate at the moment. They're currently propelling one of TV's best shows through a remarkable season, biting their nails over moving to ratings-challenged Fridays, and have a whole second universe to think about.
But through some strange rift in time-space, they managed to find time to speak with reporters this morning, and they even give me a little one-on-two time.
We'll start with my chat with them, and you'll find highlights from the conference call below.
What changes did the show make to really get into gear this season?
Jeff Pinkner: As we're writing more, we're just getting better at it. We're learning stuff. If you go back to "White Tulip," that was the first time Jeff and I coined the term "mythalone." I know it seems very obvious to the outside now that you'd want to continue the mythology for the hardcore viewer, but you also don't want to alienate potential new viewers, so you if you make that a hybrid, it's a mythalone. That's a recipe, a mathematical equation to create a story that's a difficult one. On the surface it seems easy, but it's actually a very complex. Once we hit it, to be able to satiate our fans and keep the new viewers, the storytelling just got a lot better.
How far through the Fringe story would you say you are?
Jeff Pinkner: This is the third of what we feel are at least six chapters, and we have other chapters, other roads we would like to go down, other season-long arcs we would like to follow, that will ultimately enrich an inevitable finale. What we imagine the finale to be will still function with or without those chapters, but [the finale] will be richer and deeper [if we're able write all of them].
It was around this time in its life that Lost announced an end date. Do you think an end date would benefit Fringe?
J.H. Wyman: Lost is a whole different animal, and that was a wise decision on their part. As far as a good tactic, I don't know. Lost was such a phenomenon that people are going to watch it [regardless]. There's a risk with our show where people will say, "Oh there's an end date, I've already missed too much."
Jeff Pinkner: What was interesting about Lost was it was in a unique position of leverage to say to the studio "we want to stop." Virtually every other show in the history of television says, "Please, please, please pick me up for a season," whereas Lost knew the story they were telling would be diluted if it went on for more than six seasons. We have known from the beginning what the natural ending of our show is. That's the version we plan on telling. How many other stories we get to tell along the way, that remains to be seen. There's a natural half-life to shows [that are about characters]. Our is one of those shows. Whether it's five seasons or seven seasons, we'll see. But ours is probably not a show that we'll sustain for 14 years, and that's fine, that's by design.
Highlights from the conference call:
On the show moving to Fridays:
Jeff Pinkner: We felt confident going into Friday nights knowing that we're on a creative high and we know what this show is. A lot of shows that came before us that went to Fridays, for one reason or another, they weren't on their creative upswing.
J.H. Wyman: We had to move somewhere. Fans have been asking for Fox to move [Fringe] off of Thursdays for a year. They move us to Friday and fans are understandably freaked out [laughs]. People are afraid of change. But change can be good. Our audience is insanely loyal, and we're grateful for them, and they've moved with us.
On the rest of this season:
Jeff Pinkner: Largely, this season has been a march to war. It will continue to be so, driven equally by the relationships with the two Olivias. But we've got more stuff coming. We're going to complicate it. As we drive to the end of this season, it will be about as much as setting up next season.
J.H. Wyman: The last stretch of this, it's going to be very compelling because you're going to turn the page on a new chapter and you're going to understand our show in a different capacity. It's going to stretch your mind and it's going to make you think, "Oh I never saw that coming!" That's what we feel we owe the fans. We have a few cards to lay down that I don't think anyone really expects.
As NBC is picking up new shows, it is also ditching old ones. Last Thursday, Deadline reported that the show Chase had been pulled to make room for an extended version of the game show Minute to Win It. Chase has suffered from troubled ratings all year and changed time slots once already. In retrospect, it’s curious that NBC ordered a full season of the show to begin with.
For those who aren’t familiar with Chase, the show follows a team of Texas federal marshals tasked with tracking down dangerous fugitives. It was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who also produces the popular CSI franchise.
This is quite upsetting to the team here at iCalTV, as we have actually been enjoying this show. We hope that NBC will air the upcoming episodes that were suppose to air and just maybe, Chase might see a season 2.
If it things go his way, Arrested Development star Will Arnett would be joining the NBC comedy after original star Steve Carell leaves later this season. "Had a little meeting with NBC about various things and recommended Will Arnett for a regular in The Office," Gervais wrote on his blog today. "I think he's amazing."
What do you think? Would Will Arnett make a good replacement for Steve Carell? It just might work out, however, the show not only will not be the same without Steve Carell. But are the other actors going to stay? Is there much left in the show to bring Will Arnett on it?
Production on the hit CBS drama series NCIS was suspended today after a security guard working for the show died after being hit by a van. The accident happened while the show was on location in Santa Clarita for scenes that features several actors but not star Mark Harmon.
The guard was struck at "base camp" used by the cast and crew for the shoot when the driver of a van lost control of the vehicle, reportedly after passing out, and ran over the guard. The 52-year-old man was pronounced dead at the hospital.
"Everyone at the network, the studio and NCIS is devastated by the news," CBS and NCIS producer CBS TV Studios said in a statement. "Our hearts grieve for his family and friends for this tragic loss." The network and the studio said they are cooperating with the local authorities in Santa Clarita to help determine the cause of the accident.
Shooting at the location where the tragedy happened had already wrapped but the show canceled the planned filming for the rest of the day. Production on NCIS is expected to resume tomorrow.
FX has picked comedy series The League for a third season with a 13-episode order. In first-run, Season 2 of The League averaged 1.4 million total viewers and 1.1 million Adults 18-49, up +4% and +5% vs. season one, respectively. “We love the show, and the reaction the cast received across the country during their recent comedy tour is a sign the show is really building momentum,” FX's EVP Nick Grad said.
Set against the backdrop of a fantasy football league, the FX Prods.-produced The League is about friendship, marriage, parenting, and growing up…or refusing to grow up. It was created by the husband-and-wife team of Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus Schaffer who serve as executive producers and directors. The ensemble cast features Mark Duplass, Stephen Rannazzisi, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, Katie Aselton and Jon Lajoie.
This is great news! I hope to see another season of FX's newest show Lights Out and a continuance of Sons of Anarchy too!
The CW's drama Smallville will finish its 10-year run, which started on the WB, with a two-hour series finale on Friday May 13. The following Friday, Smallville's companion, Supernatural, will wrap its current sixth season with a two-hour.
Farewell Smallville, Farewell.
The FOX network just debuted the first promo during the Super Bowl. Similar to the Avatar-flavored trailer shown at TCA, the new promo for the first time peeks at the show's special effects, featuring a few shots of dinosaurs.
Now Terra Nova looks like Avatar meets Jurassic Park. The series is set to premiere in the fall after a preview in May.
Watch the HD video preview below:
Source: FOX.com's Terra Nova
The show first demonstrated that in the Season 1 finale when Tom Everett Scott's Russell was gunned down by his neighbor. Russell ultimately survived, but in Tuesday's episode, Kevin Alejandro's Detective Nate Morretta was not so lucky.
Southland takes advantage of full season with "more refined" storytelling
Heading home after a long day with partner Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy), Nate stopped to chat with a small group of unruly gang members. Although things at first seemed under control, Nate was attacked by the mob, suffering a fatal blow to the head with a metal pipe.
"It was sad when [executive producer Christopher Chulack] told me what was going to happen, but I understand what makes good drama," Alejandro tells TVGuide.com, adding that the fateful scene was based on a real incident. "I thought it was very touching, very poetic. That's an explosive way to go out, and it doesn't fit into a cliché. It comes out of nowhere."
Chulack says the decision for Alejandro to leave the show was made shortly after TNT picked up the episodes NBC had filmed before canceling the series. When TNT renewed the show, Alejandro, who had already committed to a recurring role on HBO's True Blood, agreed to shoot four more episodes of Southland.
See photos of the Southland cast
Chulack says Sammy, who is already dealing with his estranged wife and her possible pregnancy by another man, will pursue justice for Nate, both on the street and in the courtroom as a witness to the murder. "It defines Sammy's character for the season, and he really makes some very hard choices," Chulack says. "He also has a little guilt and now he has the partner's family to deal with a little bit and that's always confusing."
But Nate's loss will be felt by others as well. "The other characters are very well aware of it and acknowledge the death," Chulack says. "So while they didn't personally know him, it's kind of a pall over the department."
Get more of today's news
Alejandro says his exit from the show only added to the emotional intensity of those final scenes. "It affected a lot of us on a personal level. I can't tell you how many tears there were, especially on my last day," Alejandro says. "I was crying, Regina [King] was crying, Shawn — there was a room of people I felt really cared about my character and that I had established a personal relationship with. It's a roller coaster that we all went on together, so it was inevitable that it would be tough."
Alejandro, whose Ugly Betty character also was killed off, says dying on TV doesn't ever get any easier, but he's excited for what's to come for his character, Jesus, on True Blood. ("This year is the year of the witches ... It gets really crazy and out there," he says.) But he's most excited about watching what Southland does next.
"I'm glad I get to be a part of Southland as a fan now, and not be aware of what's going on," he says. "I'm really looking forward to going on that journey. ... It's a beautiful piece of television, and I hope it goes on forever."
In short: Did Kevin Alejandro leave Southland? No. His character was simply killed off unexpectedly as explained more above.
Were you shocked by Nate's death? We here at iCalTV sure were.
Here are six shows that currently have been renewed for another season on the ABC Network.
- Modern Family was renewed for a third season
- Castle will be coming back for a fourth season
- Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice were renewed
- The Middle was renewed for a second season
- Cougar Town was renewed for another season
Last month we ran a story about Cartoon Network's decision to cancel live-action series Unnatural History after one season, fans of the show continue to weigh in on the cancellation in the comments section of the story.
They have now been joined by Unnatural History creator Mike Werb. He just posted a note thanking everyone who had expressed support for the Warner Horizon TV-produced show, which was set in Washington, D.C. and centered on Henry, the skilled son of globetrotting anthropologists solving the postmodern mysteries of high school with the help of his best friends Jasper and Maggie.
Werb also addressed the prospects for Unnatural History continuing on another network and laid out his story ideas for Season 2.
Here is what he wrote:
I am sorry but we have been unable to secure a second season from another network. The reasons are too tedious to get in to but thanks for loving what was. It’s nice to hear that the show I intended to make (a show that both kids, teenagers and parents could watch alone or together without ripping their eyeballs out — reached some people — even if that audience wasn’t large enough to satisfy the network. There’s some website on facebook where people hit “like” to request that Warners release the season on DVD. In case you are on FB and so inclined – I think it’s called “unnatural history dvd release.”
SEASON 2 THOUGHTS for those interested: I had planned a 2-part opener with extreme adventures involving Genghis Khan’s tomb, a Mongolian death worm, Henry’s disappearance in a sand storm, the rescue of a newborn camel as well as Henry’s parents and uncle Bryan. The rest of season 2 (upon the leads return to DC) would have covered subjects ranging from the kids finding the 18 1/2 minute gap of the Nixon/Watergate tapes, Hemingway’s lost novel, vampire finches (they really exist), a Stradivarius violin, a Native American mystery, DB Cooper, the underground railroad, etc. etc etc — plus a deepening of the triangular relationship between Henry, Maggie and Jasper, the return of Jasper’s mother from France — among other familial and emotional issues set against historical and scientific adventures.
Anyway, for the handful reading this — wishing you all a happy, healthy 2011.
Mike Werb, creator, Unnatural History