Ouch, Fringe fans. We done got a bucket of ice water thrown in our collective face.
Reality reared its ugly ass over the weekend at Fox's executive panel during the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour. Fox network president Kevin Reilly fielded the normal questions about shows from reporters, and when the subject of Fringe came up, the truth we don't want to hear came out.
When asked about the future of the sci-fi series, Reilly was less than non-committal. "The hesitation in my voice is that it's an expensive show," he said. "We lose a lot of money on the show. But with that rating on that night it’s almost impossible for us to make money on it. We’re not in the business of losing money..."
We all know what happens to shows that don't make money: They get canceled.
Reilly's words foretell the show's future: Unless things change, Fringe will almost end with Season 4, which returns this Friday. But he's not shutting the door entirely, and said that budgets could be reconfigured to make things more palatable. And there's always the long-shot possibility that Fringe could find a home somewhere else, though I don't know who would want to take on a show that only pulls in just over 3 million viewers.
Reilly's comments may anger some of you, but before you go on a Fox-bashing rant, remember this: Fox HAS stuck by the show and extended its life well beyond what it deserves from a business standpoint. By ratings standards, the show should have been canceled after Season 3, if not Season 2. While your first instinct may be to start a "Kevin Reilly Sux" Facebook group, get mad at him because he allowed Mobbed to happen, not because he's thinking about canceling a show that's killing his bank account. Every time a new episode of Fringe hits the airwaves, I thank my lucky stars.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom