While speaking with FRINGE executive producer J.J. Abrams tonight at the Fox’s TCA press tour winter party, ASSIGNMENT X asked what his first thought was when he was told the show was moving to Fox’s death slot on Friday nights (which has already claimed DOLLHOUSE and THE GOOD GUYS as recent victims).

“My first reaction was ‘sh*t’ followed almost immediately by ‘thank you Fox,’” says Abrams. “The truth is, we’re talking about the third season of FRINGE, a show other networks might not have given that kind of chance and support. What I’m hopeful for is that the viewers of FRINGE, to whom I’m incredibly grateful, will continue to tune in, despite the move to a night that is typically known as a ‘death slot.’”

Most importantly, Abrams says you don’t need to watch every episode to understand the overall arc, but does say there will be big pay-offs in the latter part of Season Three.

“We’ll be returning to 1985,” he reveals. “The story of the war brewing, the machine that may or may not allow it to happen, how to activate that machine, Walternate – these are stories that are not only exciting, brilliant, suspenseful and fun, but there are stories that call back episodes in the first season in ways that will blow your mind. It’s one of those things where you know a show is creatively working when the writers are not only telling their stories, but also using their own invention to bolster and further ideas and character.”

Of course FRINGE was supposed to be a procedural science-fiction series with mythology flourishes, but going into Season Three, it’s become a very big mythology-driven show. So we were wondering, “what exactly changed?”

“It was a realization that the ideas we discussed at the beginning of the series included a woman who was experimented on when she was a young kid, who works with a man who may or may not be from here and a father who may know a lot more about an alternate universe and a brewing war,” says Abrams. “For us not to embrace what the show was really doing, and for that show to perhaps fail, would have meant failing on someone else’s terms and with the network’s remarkable support. If this show is going to be the best version of the show, it has to be what the show is and not some lame completely standalone thing that doesn’t embrace a larger mythology. It’s not that you can’t enjoy the show and be intrigued by that larger mythology and understand it, but it is a show that rewards regular viewers.”

CLICK HERE for ASSIGNMENT X’s Season Three reviews of FRINGE plus more news and interviews

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