20 September, 2008

"Fringe" writers interview


"How will you keep that balance of making sure that people can still jump into the show and then, of course, revealing that mythology?

A. Kurtzman Jeff, how are you going to do that?

J. Pinkner I think if you take a show like ER for example, obviously you could watch every fifth ER and still, by four or five minutes into the episode, you know everything you need to enjoy that episode. Sort of using that as a model, our intent is that the people who have watched the show very loyally and very carefully will understand things at a deeper level than the people who are just watching intermittently.

But the people who are watching intermittently will understand everything they need to understand for the enjoyment of that episode. There will be self-contained elements of every story, every episode will have a distinct beginning, middle, and end, though there will be things involved. There will be nuances that the loyal viewers will understand on a deeper level. "

Article in full


terraling said...

"How will you cope with it being really quite poor? Whose decision was it to remove tension from the equation? To spoonfeed the audience and give up much more of the mythology in episode one than other series such as Lost? Is it the intention that they can skip the whole of the rest of the series and still pretty much know what's going on?"

Robin Kelly said...

That's fair comment and the exposition at the beginning of episode 2 was too obvious. But that episode had more viewers than the pilot who might have been lost if it wasn't that obvious.

Fox viewers have different expectations to HBO viewers and some spoonfeeding will be required. Also with Fox, more than other networks, it has to be an immediate hit or it will be cancelled early. That's going to make them less willing to take risks.

In reality Lost shed millions of viwers because it didn't give up the mysteries quickly enough for much of the audience.

There is still At least the central mystery of the who and why of The Pattern even if we know the how and what.

I admire the craft of it and wouldn't call it "quite poor" but I am likely to skip the rest of the series.

terraling said...

Didn't make it as far as episode 2, but I'm interested that you admired the craft: on screen or on the page? I've not read the script, but I thought the visual delivery for some aspects was, ermm, quite poor. The 3 chase scenes (two on foot, one on wheels), for example. Why bother crafting chase scenes with a clear narrative when you can just fake the tension with fast cutting between scenes of people sprinting/driving quickly nowhere in particular?

You are right about the pressure to deliver at Fox and that may be largely to blame.

It did succeed on some levels, the characterization and dialogue were fairly effective, but overall I found it unoriginal and lacking in imagination. Compare how you felt after seeing the pilot of Lost - you recently linked to a story where it was ranked as the best ever, and I´m not sure I'd disagree - no comparison.

Did the audience for Lost fall away quickly in the first series? I thought it was more of a long term issue when the network were clearly forcing them to spin out the story too long.

Having said that about Lost, I recently came across a site with lots of pilot scripts and I've just finished studying the pilot to Six Feet Under. Different kettle of fish, but stunningly crafted - have decided not to bother submitting my Red Planet entry.

Really like your blog, btw, excellent resource.

Robin Kelly said...


To be honest, I was thinking primarily of the craft of the action sequences including the chase scenes. I only spotted what you were saying with the foot chase before the "big incident" early on but I was prepared to overlook it. The action seemed cinematic and not too familiar.

Also as you say the characterisaton and dialogue is effective without being compelling. One positive is that the professor and the son gives the show some originality from the usual co-workers.

Fox is strange because it starts its season early and then takes a break for baseball so Fringe may have fans now but those fans may switch to The Mentalist during the break and not come back, so it's even more crucial.

The Mentalist is a by the numbers cop drama - you couldn't really call it original and imaginative - but it's like Life in that the execution is quite classy and entertaining. And I just care about the characters more.

Unfortunately everything new the Lost creators do is going to be compared with that awesome pilot and not the typical average pilot but Fringe is too average for me.

Lost's first season had a brilliant cliffhanger but a lot of people wanted to know what was going on there and then. Instead of enjoying the ride and the suspense and the mysteries. They started to fall away in season two as no easy answers were forthcoming.

The key to getting the viewers back was clearing up the main mystery and showing that some of them have got off the island, being more action orientated and less subtle.

Six Feet Under is amazing but even Alan Ball himself can't re-produce that level of quality (see True Blood) so we can't be expected to. We can aim for Six Feet Under but may hit Fringe - which will be good enough for most prodcos.

terraling said...

Will check out the Mentalist, thanks. Life I?m already up on - good execution of a mainstream show as you say (although the strike messed with the ending of season one if I remember correctly).

I think I can do Fringe! ;-)