FRINGE: Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman on ‘Neither Here Nor There,’ Fan Support, Alt-Nina, and More

September 20, 2011 by  

After having arguably the biggest cliffhanger of the season — no, seriously, where the heck did Peter Bishop go?! — FRINGE is finally back this week with new episodes! (I won’t judge you if you do a happy dance. Swear.)

And while it would be way too spoilery to do a traditional “You Ask, I Answer” for the first two hours of the season, I think I found a solution you guys will be a little happier with: teases straight from FRINGE executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman!

I talked with Pinkner and Wyman earlier today, and they spoke about about their very big premiere, the fan support, alt-Nina, season 4, and more…

What can you tease about the premiere?
J.H. Wyman:
As far as teasing goes…
Jeff Pinkner: I think we can say the FRINGE world absent Peter Bishop looks very different.
JW: We’re going to set up the season arc from numerous characters’ perspectives. You’re going to get a full understanding on where the season will be going.

I don’t envy your position right now…there is very little you can say about the premiere without spoiling important elements.
JP: It’s sort of like a fun Catch-22: you want to talk about it, but everything you say in some way might spoil the viewing experience.

Which we obviously don’t want to do. I know you both have tweeted about the absolutely amazing “Where Is Peter Bishop?” video some fans made. How difficult is it for you to try and balance the desire of the fans — which, in the grand scheme of things, is to have Peter back on our screens as soon as possible — with the story you feel you need to tell?
JP: You know what’s funny? What you just said was a lot of our conversation with the network and the studio as we pitched them our season-long arc. And they, coming from a fan perspective — and also a marketing perspective — [said], “We need Peter back right away because people miss Peter and we need him back.” And our counterargument was, “To really establish his absence will take a little while.” And truly a little while, not a long while, because we know there is good audience frustration and really bad audience frustration.

So the balancing act is specifically the one you pointed to. We need to establish the condition of these characters’ lives in order to set the story, and we also need to feel a sense of loss, because otherwise his return, when it happens, would have no meaning without feeling his absence. And hopefully we’re striking the right balance. I guess we’ll see. We think we are.
JW: A lot of the fans, they’ve communicated via Twitter and things like that and letters that we’ve gotten that they trust [us] — and it’s nerve-wracking because, it’s “Oh my Gosh, what are you guys doing?” but this is a show that consistently — part of its DNA — is refiguring things in a new context for the viewer.

For instance, seeing amber in season one, no one had any idea and now it’s been recontextualized and you know what it is. There’s always a reason for everything. It’s part of our storytelling. We don’t want to frustrate people with these far-out questions that don’t get answered or bait people along. We want to give answers. And I think we’ve proven that we do that. So when we first heard the reaction of people [asking], “Where’s Peter? Where’s Peter?” we were hoping they’d say, “These guys have a plan, and I totally understand. And I care because I’m invested.” And that they would realize that — the reason they are feeling so strongly is because they are invested in the program and we wouldn’t let them down. We wouldn’t try to let them down.

And obviously the fans have shown their support in a massive way with the aforementioned “Where Is Peter Bishop?” video. How did you guys feel when you saw it?
JW: Me personally, I was so floored. And it felt so incredible to see how much the fans love the show and what they’re willing to do and their commitment. It was really moving.
JP: It’s stunning. They played it in a Fox departmental meeting yesterday. That’s not the kind of thing that happens. I’ve never heard of such a thing. And it was a surprise to both of us! Speaking about spoiling, neither one of us had any idea such a thing existed or was in the works until it was presented to us over the weekend. And as I tweeted, at the risk of sounding soft, it choked me up. It was amazing.

And what was kind of amazing about it — or what was additionally amazing about it — is it wasn’t designed as a save the show campaign. It was just a gesture of love, not for us, but for Peter and the actors and the production. It was amazing.

Well, they love you guys, too. You’re both on Twitter, you’ve seen that.
JP: Yes, and it’s incredibly flattering, but we’re not this show. We oversee it and we run it, but there are so many unbelievably talented people who participate in the production of the show, so far be it from us to take more credit than its due.

Which is 100% fair, but you two do write a fair number of episodes per season. Can you share which of the first batch you two wrote?
JP: Well, as showrunners, it’s our responsibility to oversee or to do a pass on all episodes, but our names are specifically on the first one, along with [fellow executive producer] Akiva [Goldsman], who got a story credit. And we cowrote the fourth one with him.

I know last time I asked you for an episode title, I possibly got you in trouble and it definitely ended up changing, but would you be able to share what the title is for that episode or the fifth hour of the season?
JW: You know what, Marisa, we didn’t get in trouble, it was basically Jeff and I — it was funny, because we did have a title, but when Jeff and I were working on the story a little bit, inadvertently, we said, “Neither Here Nor There” in regards to a character and then we both looked at each other and said, “That should be the title” and changed it. So it was truly creative, we weren’t trying to dupe anybody, we just found a better title that meant more to us.
JP: [Episode] four is “Subject 9″ and we shouldn’t reveal episode 5 yet.

“Subject 9″? Should fans be reading into the similar title to another episode you’ve done?
JP: Fans are free to read into whatever they want!

Very good to know. Will this be the year we finally meet alt-Nina?
JW: We can’t say that. Suffice to say that… [Long pause] FRINGE is a show that we can do things that you would not expect. And I think that’s the best way to say that. Like, for instance, we’re the only show that could probably do a love triangle with two of the same people. We’re the only show that could do the quintessential kidnapping, but it’s across universes.

I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say we’re going to treat the much-anticipated understanding of Nina Sharp “over there” — we’re going to try and treat it with the same sort of, “Oh my gosh!” as we have with the other aspects [of our story].

That is a very good tease.
JP: She’s a special character and we want to make sure she gets her due.

Fair enough. And while it’s great you guys can tease alt-Nina, I will say, I do appreciate that you both have been open with the fans that it’s not a matter of “if” Peter returns, but rather a matter of “how” and “when.”
JW: We would never do that! There were two things where we were like, wow, I can’t believe people would think we would do that.

And the first thing is, obviously, getting Peter Bishop out of the program. That is insanity. He’s such a huge part of the show and people should know that. He’s just inextricably linked to the DNA. So that’s one thing we couldn’t believe people would think we were thinking of.

The second one is, that people would believe that we would do one of those things that I think is a terrible trick, is you wake up and nothing had happened. That you invest three years of your life in a show and nothing you watched was real anymore. We would never do that. Everything is real. Everything did happen. You are on Peter’s side. You are with Peter this year and you are rooting for him to get things back to normal.
JP: We’re both fans of storytelling — the stories you love are the ones that don’t betray your trust; that don’t betray your investment in them. The story doesn’t always go the way you’d hope it goes, but that’s what allows for hope and payoff. If it was always a series of happy events, by the time you got to the end, you’d be bored. There has to be struggle, there has to be disappointment along the way, but we’ve made it very clear we have no intention of betraying people.

Be honest: are you counting down the hours until the FRINGE season premiere? Make sure to tune in Friday at 9 PM on Fox!

Related:

FRINGE: John Noble Praises Fox For Their ‘Fantastic’ ‘Past + Present + Future’ Web Series
FRINGE Season 4 Premiere Changes Titles!
FRINGE: John Noble Teases Peter’s Return

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Comments

18 Responses to “FRINGE: Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman on ‘Neither Here Nor There,’ Fan Support, Alt-Nina, and More”

  1. Lee on September 20th, 2011 8:22 pm

    In all fairness, I think people were worried when the “wiping the slate clean” comments were made by some of the cast. People also had a bad feeling left after LOST ended. They should not feel so upset that that idea that maybe 3 years wa sundone was taken into consideration.

  2. AngelMoonGirl on September 20th, 2011 8:25 pm

    Can I just say, I have such love for these showrunners? They have such a good track record with “being what they speak” and I have implicit faith that we’ll slowly see the return of Peter and “normalcy”, but that it’ll be a wicked ride :) Fringe is never one to disappoint: I adore how smart and clever it is; how it never loses its sense of self which in its essence, is not a sci-fi but a “love story” of epic proportions. Hope it continues to air until its rightful conclusion!

  3. Ellen on September 20th, 2011 8:44 pm

    Here’s what impressed me about the showrunners:

    When the fans on the Internet said they wished they could see Peter’s funeral speech for Olivia, which was cut from the televised version, Joel Wyman said something like “We’ll see” if it can be included on the DVD.

    The cynical longtime TV fan in me figured that it was just something going to be politely forgotten, but… the scene is there (as an Easter egg) on the DVD. It’s there. No B.S.

    I also agree that Fringe should not ever be “normal” again but go to a new place. All they have to do is make it entertaining and from what I hear about the new episodes, they have done that.

  4. Dixie on September 20th, 2011 9:25 pm

    We do love these guys… they are incredibly open and responsive to the Fringedom, and like the rest of the Fringe folks, so appreciative of us, just like we are of them. Of course, they can’t tell us everything or write to please everyone – but who would want that?

    I admire them for taking chances and telling the story as they envision it – it’s been an amazing journey so far, and I’ve never doubted that every time we took a leap of faith with them, they would take care of us. Personally, I can’t WAIT for Season 4 – I know it will be just as surprising, entertaining, and thought-provoking as the previous seasons.

    Thanks, Jeff & Joel, Ari, the rest of the writing team, the actors, the crew – for creating the smartest show in any universe!

  5. guest on September 21st, 2011 10:52 am

    I wish mr Pinkner and Wyman would remember that Olivia is the hero and was introduced as the chosen one and gatekeeper.
    For two seasons almost they did little with the character Olivia, instead it was all about Walter and Peter, and then season 3 finally gave Anna Torv the material to show that she is a worldclass actress that should have had the Emmy, but the character Olivia was brainwashed, possessed, replaced and reduced to a needy dependent woman.
    So I do not hope that peters return will mean another round of that, because midway season 3 the u-turn of Olivia no longer being the hero, but everything already focussing on Peter, and an overdose since the final for me, probably thanks to Jacksons complaining during entire season 3. they are making peter far to important at the xpense of the other characters.
    In season 3 they did not rebuilt Olivia, and the Olivia we knew before that was a very strong and independent woman, warm and caring as well, always caring about the others.
    Having said that, reading positive reviews on epi 1 and 2 and episode 2 seems to be another showcase of Anna Torv’s brilliant acting, may be a chance for the SAG of Golden Globes? I hope that mr Wyman and Pinkner realise what a real diamond she is.

  6. Wedum on September 21st, 2011 11:57 am

    Will somebody PLEASE ban this annoying Anna torv fan already! She is beginning to piss me off!

  7. ???? on September 21st, 2011 12:08 pm

    Olivia is NOT the main character. The show has 3 main characters.

  8. tier on September 21st, 2011 8:44 pm

    Actually, the person 2 posts above does make some valid points. Irrespective, Im looking forward to what Season 4 has in store. Although, if its all about Peter I cant see myself as being invested in the show. Id like a good balance between all 3 but leaning more towards Olivia. Its no coincidence that season 3 was so critically acclaimed.

  9. Wedum on September 22nd, 2011 1:56 am

    Tier, you GOT your precious Olivia season, why can’t the OTHERS shine for once? Btw, like people always tell me, fringe is not just about one character and i find it horrible and hypocritical that peter is so invaluable to you that you would stop watching but if the show had more Olivia in it, you would keep watching.

    Why are Olivia fans so rude, nasty and arrogant enough to not care about anybody who isn’t olivia.

  10. Ellen on September 22nd, 2011 7:13 pm

    Joshua Jackson puts it best-

    “Fringe is not the story of Peter Bishop. It’s not the story of Walter Bishop. It’s not the story of Olivia Dunham. It is the Fringe story.”

  11. Laysa on September 22nd, 2011 7:19 pm

    Dude, i’m counting down the time for Fringe since season 3 ended. It’s so great to see how Wyman and Pinkner are cool with us fans, I really love these guys. I totally trust they wont dissapoint us about where is the story going. Peter is really going to be missed, and guys, c’mon! Peter, Olivia and Walter are all important, there’s no such thing as “Olivia is the main character”, we need all of them, and now I guess Lincoln is gonna be an important piece too.
    I admit, I fangirl on Anna Torv everytime I see her, but for the Fringe story, they are so connected one on each other that we can’t really say that shes more important than Walter or Peter. This IS about Peter. There’s so many questions to get answered about both of them, but lets let the season start first, then we will see what it’s gonna be about…

  12. clonus on September 22nd, 2011 7:36 pm

    I give these guys a LOT of credit for their commitment to storytelling. I’ve caught up with the show through DVDs (plan to watch s. 4 in real time this year) and it’s so nice to hear showrunners who understand the audience and really want to make a quality program.

  13. Jen on September 22nd, 2011 8:31 pm

    I’m a big Anna Torv fan, and a big Olivia fan. Also, a fan of independent women who are heroes. If the show had ignored Olivia, or reduced her to a needy, dependent woman, I’d have been outraged and stopped watching, I assure you. I don’t believe any such thing happened. Or, at least I don’t think such a thing happened in any worse way than it happened to Walter, who spent years in an insane asylum, or to Peter, who was kidnapped from one universe to another, and didn’t learn the truth until decades later. The show is about Olivia, Peter and Walter, for the most part, and they all suffer, one way or another.

  14. KC on September 22nd, 2011 9:17 pm

    I completely trust this guys. And is the first time I can say that about the producers of a show. I did freak out a little after season 3 ended, mostly because it was so unexpected that I didn’t know what to think, couldn’t imagine how would they take things from there. But with the few little things I’ve been spoiled about s4, I think we are in for an amazing and emotional season.

  15. skippy on September 22nd, 2011 11:58 pm

    I think there is a Yin/Yang connection between Peter & Olivia – you need them both, they need to act in unison. The Yin/Yang generally represents duality or two sides, complimentary but opposites. You see it in the end of season 3 when Olivia has to be with Peter for the machine to work. It’s kind of like having two keys to open a safety deposit box. I’m actually more interested in the back story of the First People and the relationship between the two universes and all of the main characters. It will be exciting! 23 hours and counting!

  16. Smuti on September 23rd, 2011 5:33 am

    Counting down the hours.
    But there is 1 thing that I always missed in the alt universe, John Scott. Did he exists there, does he still live, does he know alt Olivia etc. Would be nice to see him in season 4.

  17. Chey on October 22nd, 2011 1:49 pm

    Fringe is not actualy the only show that did a love triangle with 2 of the same person…. Farscape did :) There were two of John Crichton….

    Still, love Fringe!

  18. Marisa Roffman on October 22nd, 2011 5:09 pm

    @Chey — Very good to know that!

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