Every now and again I like to abuse this platform I have as Sr. Editor of Screen Rant to do something totally self-serving that will (hopefully) benefit the holy institute of me. Today I have a wish that I would like to see come to fruition, and it involves keeping two of my favorite shows away from cancellation and together in one place where I can enjoy them both at the end of a long work week:
FOX, if you're listening, something needs to be done to help Lie To Me and Fringe survive into their respective 4th seasons - and your old pal Outlaw has a few ideas how to do it that I'm willing to share for free.
Both Lie To Me and Fringe are shows that have loyal cult followings, but haven't exactly been ratings smashes for FOX in their respective third seasons. Fringe has hovered around 4-5 million viewers range - even after its move from Thursday to Friday - while Lie To Me finished season 3 with 7 million viewers. Weirdly enough, even though Lie To Me is the show with the higher ratings, it's more likely than Fringe to be denied a chance at season 4.
However, in my opinion, neither of these shows should be axed. Fringe has established a pretty good sci-fi mythos in the vein of Lost or The X-Files, while Tim Roth's performance as Dr. Cal Lightman on Lie To Me has offered the best PhD with an attitude to come along since Hugh Laurie's Dr. House. I know why Fox hoped that paring the similarly-themed House and Lie To Me on Monday as a two-hour "Doc block" would be a hit. However, the reality is that (as the now canceled Lone Star found the hard way) the Monday 9pm slot is pretty much already divvied up between loyal fans of CBS comedies like Two and a Half Men; the huge swell of reality show fans who watch ABC for The Bachelor or Dancing With the Stars; and sci-fi/superhero fans lured by every new show like Heroes, The Cape or The Event that NBC has been rolling out in recent years.
Simply put: FOX's 9pm slot on Mondays doesn't have a strong enough identity to distinguish itself right now.
In fact, if the network would approach this issue from the standpoint of actually promoting House and Lie To Me as a their Monday night "Doc Block", they probably wouldn't need to push Lie To Me to Fridays at all. But that's on FOX's marketing department to decide. As it stands right now, I'm thinking of how to get two solid series a second lease on life, and having Lie To Me partnered with Fringe on Fridays would definitely take some pressure off, since there are somewhat lowered expectations for Friday ratings. From a promotional standpoint, having Cal Lightman and Walter Bishop as Friday's "visit to the doctor" event might not work nearly as well as the House/Lightman combo...but it still works.
CBS has ruled Friday night ratings by deploying franchise spinoff CSI: NY into the fight, while recently enjoying a solid run from freshman series The Defenders in its new Friday timeslot. But then, CBS also does well on Fridays because it tends to attract an older crowd (see: my grandma) and lets face it: the older crowd doesn't tend to go out on Friday nights, so much as stay in and watch TV. While I believe that older demographic would warm up to a show like Lie To Me, I know it's probably wishful thinking that Fringe's convoluted sci-fi mythos would hold much appeal. The good news is this: FOX doesn't have to steal CBS' Friday demographic, they simply have to attract a new demographic to the party.
We all know that Joss Whedon's and FOX's sci-fi series Dollhouse died a slow death in the now-infamous "Friday night death slot" last year, and many expect that Fringe will persih there too. Personally I find this kind of view to be utterly defeatist. As a longtime sci-fi TV fan, I remember staying in on Fridays in the '90s to watch The X-Files - Friday nights on FOX were a weekly event to me.
It IS possible to turn Fridays around from being a graveyard for dying series and random reality show offerings and make it an event night once again: sci-fi geeks don't tend to have the most crowded social calenders, and with some adjusted marketing approaches I could see Cal Lightman becoming a geek icon alongside Walter Bishop. Hell, Lie To Me walked away with two awards at the 2011 People's Choice Awards - one for "Favorite TV Crime Drama" and the other for "Favorite TV Crime Fighter (Tim Roth)". Sure, it's not a Golden Globe or an Emmy, but clearly amongst the younger crowd Cal Lightman is a hit.
FOX president Kevin Rielly recently went on record recently to say neither Fringe nor Lie To Me should be considered dead yet, so there's still hope:
"We've got a lot of mid-season shows that we're rolling out and we just have to get a little deeper into the spring and size everything up [before deciding on another season]...We'd like to believe there's [a future] for Lie To Me. It delivers a very loyal audience wherever we put it...
[Fringe] is a show we're very passionate about...I want the audience to transfer to Friday. I would be heartbroken if it went away. But if the fans stick with us the show could be on the air for many years."
What do you guys think the best way is to keep these shows on the air? Should FOX do more to promote House and Lie To Me as a Monday night "Doc Block" (feel free to use that term by the way)? Should The Lightman Group open up shop alongside Walter Bishop's Fringe lab on Fridays? Or should Fringe get another sci-fi themed show added as its lead-in for a Friday night sci-fi block next season?
Right now Lie To Me is wrapped for the current season, but you can still catch Fringe on Fridays @ 9pm on FOX.
Source: Digital Spy
House / Lie to Me image from Fan pop