When FOX confirmed on Monday that it has canceled its expensive dino-drama “Terra Nova,” we weren’t particularly surprised, given the cost of making the show, the extended production schedule, and the middling-at-best ratings.
Given the fact that we can now strike “Terra Nova” from the potential schedule for next season, though, it’s a good time to re-examine some other FOX on-the-bubble dramas — in particular, fan favorite “Fringe,” plus freshman mid-season series “Alcatraz” and “The Finder.”
Despite the fact that “Fringe” ratings are significantly lower than “Terra Nova” numbers, we remain optimistic about a potential Season 5. Despite FOX president Kevin Reilly’s statements about “Fringe” costing the network money, Reilly remains a supporter of the show and fans can expect him to do his best to help find creative ways to make it cost-effective.
The fact that FOX hasn’t yet announced that “Fringe” is ending — the way it did with “House” — is also a very good sign, obviously. The writers are currently working on some of the final episodes of the season, and we don’t see FOX letting the show end without a proper series finale. This late in the game, we would have expected the network to have made a decision, were they leaning toward axing the show.
Creatively, “Fringe” is on a major high, which — believe it or not — counts for something. A shortened final season (as in, 13 episodes) seems to be the natural way to end the series and provide a platform for new Friday night programming in the fall.
And now, the bad news. At this point, we wouldn’t hold our breath to see “Alcatraz” or “The Finder” reach a Season 2.
“The Finder” being moved away from its companion series, “Bones,” into a Friday night slot is not a good sign, as, unlike “Fringe,” “The Finder” hasn’t had time to establish a fanbase devoted enough to move around with it.
“Alcatraz,” like “The Finder,” has seen declining ratings over the course of the season. To its credit, “Alcatraz” ratings do tend to be slightly higher than those for “Terra Nova” — and it’s significantly less expensive — but its low performance for this week’s two-hour event doesn’t bode well for continued success. At this point, the biggest thing “Alcatraz” has going for it is J.J. Abrams’ name — particularly given that FOX would, presumably, like to stay on the prolific producer’s good side.