POSTED BY STUART LEVINE
Now, finally, J.J. Abrams feels your pain.
Abrams, who exec produced "Alias" way back when, now knows what it was like to be on the other side.
While visiting buddy Greg Grunberg's house awhile back, the two were hanging out and "Alias" popped up on TV. Abrams (pictured right) was watching intently, and, like millions of others who scratched their heads watching the tail end of that series, he couldn't quite figure out who was good, who was bad and what the hell was going on.
"It was so confusing, it was impenetrable," Abrams admitted at Monday's "Fringe" session at TCA. "It was, 'Who the fuck is this guy?'"
Funny stuff, especially for the guy who birthed Sydney Bristow and knows where she started, but no so much where she ended up.
Anyway, point of the story was that don't expect "Fringe," Abrams' new show on Fox that's receiving the most buzz of any fall skein, to fall into the "Alias" dilemma.
Unlike "Lost" -- another Abrams series -- and "Alias," "Fringe" won't necessitate compulsive viewing to follow along.
"'Lost' has received and garnered a reputation for being a complicated show," he said. "'Fringe' is an experiment for us; a show with an overall story and end game. This is a show where you don't have to watch episodes one, two and three to understand episode four. This show will have a different paradigm. We're trying very diligently that this doesn't require the insane dedication that if you miss an episode, you have no idea what's going on."
Abrams recognizes that "Fringe" is being talked about a bunch and he takes that as a challenge.
"I do feel, ultimately, that any pressure or expectations for this or any show can ruin a show. If you expect it to change your life (as a viewer), it'll inevitably be disappointing," he continued. "I'm hoping we create a show that's entertaining, and hope and think it is. I don't think one show can save the fall."
Crix got their official look at the show Sunday, as Fox screened it at the Beverly Hilton. Some, though, have seen it previously online, as the pilot was leaked on to the Internet. None of the exec producers on stage -- Abrams, Alex Kurtzman (pictured left), Roberto Orci (pictured right), showrunner Jeff Pinkner and Bryan Burk -- were happy with the early exposure and all denied leaking it.
"We didn't put the pilot online," Burk said. "We hate putting it out there until it's done. That's why you didn't get advance copies. We keep working on our stuff until it airs. Often I'm working on 'Lost' 24 hours before it goes up."
So with the banter in the TV community calling "Fringe" the top dog, plus a primo timeslot -- 9 p.m. Tuesdays after "House" -- the pressure's on. Failure, it would seem, is not an option.
"We have no excuses," said Orci. "We can't say Fox didn't promote it. It's our fault if it doesn't work."