You may have noticed that this week, Fringe is on Friday. That's because as it returns from hiatus, it takes up residency in a new spot, the "Friday Night Death Slot", at 9pm. (Give that link a good read after you're done here, it's fascinating.) Fridays are usually bad news for any television show, with the notable exception of The X-Files, which also aired on FOX. By contrast, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, The Good Guys, Boston Public, The Bernie Mac Show, Malcom in the Middle, Fastlane, The Lone Gunmen, Dark Angel, Prison Break, Standoff... do I have to name any more?... are some of the shows that moved to Fridays on FOX and were almost immediately canceled. (This doesn't include the number of shows -- like Dollhouse and Firefly -- that debuted on Fridays and were canceled.)
Fox President Kevin Reilly believes the switch won't affect Fringe's ratings at all:
...over 45 percent of the audience time-shifted the show. That’s almost half of the dedicated audience watching it on their DVRs. It’s been such a loyal fanbase.
Maybe we are moving in to an age where timeslots for scripted shows like Fringe don't really matter. The reason for the move in the first place is because, of course, of American Idol. With Idol only retaining 1/3 its original judging cast, FOX hopes to move it to Thursday nights to open up competition with a recently-vacated CBS Survivor time slot. This is all really interesting, I'm sure, but not as much as Christopher Lloyd guest starring on Fringe's return episode this week.
(Click to embiggen.)
Doc Brown is guest starring as a musician in one of Walter's favorite bands, "Violet Sedan Chair." Apparently (in real life, not on the show) an LP called "Seven Suns" has secretly made its way in to some independent record stores across the country, all of which contain hidden messages that are supposedly spoilers for the show. There are even viral videos on YouTube right now to correspond with all the easter eggery, but not knowing what the hell is going on with all the vague codes is not going to impact your enjoyment of the show at all. (I still don't know or care what the riddle is with the commercial bumpers, something that, according to the producers who appeared at New York Comic Con in '09, has great meaning.) (Whatever! More Lance Reddick with his shirt off, please, LOL!)
I suppose it bears repeating here that Fringe has always been regarded as an X-Files ripoff. So it shouldn't come as any surprise that not only is FOX confident that moving it in to Dana & Mulder's old time slot won't damage the show's ratings, they're now promoting the crap out of it as a "Freaky Fridays" deal. Fringe has never been what I'd consider a challenging show to follow, and I mean that kindly. It has fun with itself in a way that The X-Files used to before it got caught up in all its own conspiracy bullshit. So I don't really care how many snot bombs, chimeras, Nazis, radioactive cosmonauts, or giant parasitic worms they decide to add to the show to weird it up, I'm just eager to see if Christopher Lloyd and John Noble get to do any karaoke together.
By the way, as a footnote, I love that watching stuff later on your DVR is called "time-shifting." It makes it sound like, instead of being busy, you can actually achieve inter-dimensional time travel with your remote control.