Bubble Watch Special: "Leave Bill Alone & Watch Robert Eat His 'Fringe' Crow" Edition

Categories: Broadcast TV,Bubble Watch

Written By

April 26th, 2012

I could say “See, Fringe did get canceled (after 13 more episodes)!”  While that’s technically true, it’s outside of the spirit of Bubble Watch (and Renew/Cancel Index) predictions which forecast whether shows will be renewed for the following season.

I could also say had I seen @MaskedScheduler’s tweet earlier this month predicting better than a 50-50 chance, I would’ve at least upgraded Fringe to the Bubble.  That too is true, and since Bill is always needling me that you need to call bank shots in advance, I did at least get it on the record a couple of days in advance of the renewal announcement!

But the fact is I was wrong.  All season long.  I don’t view it as the biggest mistake I’ve ever made – Dollhouse’s season two renewal still stands as the worst mistake because I predicted certain cancellation for Dollhouse, and with Fringe only likely cancellation.

Where I had Fringe as a likely cancellation practically the whole season, Bill had Fringe on the bubble (or as a toss-up in Renew/Cancel Index parlance)  all season long and so no matter the outcome, he could rightfully claim “No big surprise” since when you say “it could go either way” whichever way it goes can’t be surprising.

Anyway, please refrain from bashing Bill for my prediction!  Bash me for the prediction all you want though. I was wrong and I will eat my crow with only a little salt and maybe a dash of mustard to mask the gamey taste. It’s kind of funny to see people equate a prediction with a rooting interest, though that shouldn't surprise me at this point. Millions more people saw Barry Melrose predict the Washington Capitals would lose game 7 to the Boston Bruins last night than saw me predict Fringe would be canceled, and I’m sure he had way, way more harsh tweets from Capitals fans than “Haha, suck it @TVbytheNumbers!”

He wasn’t rooting against the Capitals though, he was just making a prediction.  Similarly, I wasn’t rooting for Fringe to be canceled, just making the incorrect prediction that it would be. But I was wrong and if you can’t wait until next week when I’ll retake the @TVbytheNumbers reins, you can go ahead and send your “ahahhaha suck it” to @Seidman (or post below in the comments.)

Trust me, I wasn’t rooting for Fringe to be canceled. And not just because I’ve watched every episode, but because as a web publisher, it’s better for us if it’s renewed.  Though it would’ve been a little better still for us if it had been renewed without announcing it as a final season i.e., there wasn’t nearly the interest in Chuck ratings in its final season as in previous seasons.

If  you want to harass Bill for constantly antagonizing crazy fans, that’s fair game. But spare him the grief over incorrectly predicting Fringe would be canceled at the end of this season.  That’s all on me.

The regular weekly Bubble Watch will be posted sometime Sunday morning (Pacific Time.)

  • Oliver

    The idea that serialised dramas are more valuable with wrapped-up endings makes some sense.

  • gumboot

    I hope that guy who’s been posting “Fringe is doomed” all season shows a little humility now.

  • The Big Toe

    I love Fringe! Don’t be sorry! I knew it would get renewed all along…

  • Hades

    You have nothing to apologise for even more so since the show is still technically cancelled…after 13 more episodes.

    I look at it as a ‘cushioned blow’ cancellation. ‘Hey Fringe fans your show is cancelled but heres 13 more episodes just so we dont have to put up with your incessant whining!’

    I hope Fringe fans are grateful for the additional episodes especially since ratings-wise the show didnt deserve it.

  • Bob

    No explanation necessary. You deal with trends and numbers. I am glad that it was renewed…never watched the show even for a second but so many fans were hoping so why not. I love it when a show gets a proper send off. Congrats FRINGE Fans.

  • were123

    Sadly no, Richard is too proud for that and too stronghead. When he saw it he said “OFMG! This is Dollhouse surprise! FOX must be really stupid” or something like that. I don’t get his angle, what does he cares that Fringe has been renewed? He just isn’t able to face his mistake like a man -_-‘

  • psychic

    Fringe is epic and deserves renewal.
    No matter what the haters say, everyone else in the world knows this to be true.
    Even if the ratings suck. :P

  • SarahL


    You have nothing to apologize for, your prediction about Fringe was right, but you know that. :) My congrats on this ingenious way of keeping the conversation going and generating hits.


    I praise you for constantly antagonizing crazy fans. They deserve it for their loony rationalizations and long diatribes of rubbish. I enjoy sticking it to them as well.


    It is just plain dumb to keep posting on TVBTN when you think it sucks.

  • JakeSnake

    Well this website typically thrives on doom and gloom when it comes to shows like Fringe that bring in site traffic. Everyone who wasn’t an expert knew Fringe would get renewed for a 13 episode final season while you and your partner in crime refused to rate it higher than could go either way.

    Honestly though Robert, after thinking about it for a minute, I almost have more respect for you than Bill. While I knew your prediction was wrong, at least it was a real prediction. Bill just put it as toss up all season. Sure a show can be legitimately in that category, but when he still refused to provide any real guess even a few days ago it seemed to me that toss up had just become a default to avoid being wrong, since no matter which way it went you could still say you were right to some degree. Your prediction was incorrect, but at least you were bold enough to actually predict.

    So I think we all know it’s virtually guaranteed now that Alcatraz and Finder are canceled, but for the sake of argument, what percentage odds would you give those shows of actually surviving?

  • Tommy Mickens


    You’re being too hard on yourself, or rather, I think maybe you feel bad because we all give Bill a harder time (he deserves it!).

    Fringe SHOULD HAVE been likely cancellation all season even though it’s renewed now based on the information we had, even knowing everything about syndication and taking it into account.

    It’s like a dice roll. You chose 2-11 and it rolled a 12. On the other hand Bill chose 2-12 so he’d be right no matter what it rolled.

    I would have ranked it likely cancellation as well, and a similar show in a similar spot I’d do again next year or the year after, too.

    Here’s what I don’t understand though. I mostly go off the info I’ve gotten from here, and you guys said the magic number was something like “88”. So you guys started taking into account shows being close to that number which makes complete sense. But then Fringe got there and yet Bill still said, against all reason when you look at what you guys have SAID matters, that he’ll keep it on the bubble all season because of syndication.

    That makes no sense. If you’re going to keep it on the bubble even after it reaches 88, then what’s the point of talking about this magic “88” all the time? Did Bill have inside info? That’s all I can think of, because he’s not talked about this “more syndication” past the 88 for any show but Fringe. And still on the surface this makes no sense for any of them. The ratings are extremely bad, CW territory (it’s gotten BELOW a 1, who knows where it will sink next season), and the show was ALREADY at syndication numbers. So how does this make sense at all?

    The only thing I can think of is that there was already some back-room deal in place for syndication on some channel IF and only IF Fringe got more episodes, up to 100, so the fee was slashed dramatically and backroom deals made to sweeten the pot for Fox. AND, somehow Bill got wind of this. This makes sense because, Fringe does not have a syndication deal yet, so it would make sense that some channel is interested but has been holding out, and that interest was the driving force for this renewal.

    So, in conclusion, Robert, you still made the right call. Bill may have been “right” with his bubble call (where he’s “right” no matter what) and wonky reasoning that somehow turned out to be what happened (coughinsideinfocough), but you know, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  • Chris

    It’s getting harder and harder to accurately predict cancellations on the networks, because the networks are failing so badly on all fronts that their standards have fallen to an unprecedented degree. They really don’t expect good ratings anymore–delighted when they get them, but not particularly surprised or alarmed when they don’t. Bad ratings are NORMAL now.

    Fringe had a prosperous (albeit tiny) demographic watching it. It had generally good critical notices (though honestly, have critics paid any real attention to it recently?). It has a powerful patron in JJ Abrams, and they’re obviously not going to have to pay much per ep to get that final 13. This way they can say “We champion good television”, and combat that old meme that FOX cancels shows too soon (which is actually the direct opposite of the actual truth these days).

    Nobody dast blame this man. Leave the poor guy alone. ;)

  • Joe

    No reason to apologize. You base predictions on ratings. Your predictions make sense. Fox’s renewal/cancellation was a surprise.

  • Dennis

    GO FRINGE!!!!!
    Best show ever!

  • GM

    Ah ah!

    Fans were right (again – like usual) ;-)

    We win!! :)

  • joh

    The number of douchebags obsessed with any given tv show that think a blogger not only ‘hates’ a show but has any real influence on a shows renewal is ridiculous…unless you have a nielsen box, you as a tv viewer have no impact so stop your paranoid conspiracy whinings

  • 092112

    No biggie. Other shows with similar ratings are renewed and some shows are even shoved down our throats until enough people watch to make it trendy…(30 Rock, Community, Parks & Rec….hmmm, pattern here?)

    It’s politics and money; something none of us in the “unwashed masses” can predict.

  • Chris

    @GM–you were predicting Fringe would only run a little over four and a half seasons? Like before the extremely recent past? Let’s see that post. :)

  • Mike Geary

    It’s great that it is getting a final season, but it is just that: Final. I don’t think that your prediction was flawed at all. Given the typical trend for show cancellation, Fringe should have been canceled. After 13 more episodes, it will be. And, that’s not Abrams ending it on his own terms; that’s Fox telling him he has 13 more episodes to get it done.

    So, Fringe fans, you can stop worrying about if the show is going to end abruptly. You have a 13 episode season. So, sit back and enjoy it while it’s on the air and appreciate the fact that fans of other shows are much less fortunate than you are when their shows end without a good chance to wrap up the plot lines.

  • Sara

    There’s no need to apologize..I’m a die hard Fringe fan but even I did not expect it to get renewed again this time. I appreciate both yours and Bill’s sometimes differing viewpoints..that’s why I always check this website..you both keep it intresting :)

  • Kyle7

    I don’t expect Robert and Bill to be 100% right because, as they freely admit, they are not part of the renewal process and don’t see the actual financial situations of any show. For the most part the relative ratings do reflect a show’s renewal chances. There are always exceptions, and while some of them are easier to spot than others (FNL being subsidized by DirecTV, for instance), there’s always going to be cases where the real deciding factors were not known outside of a handful of network execs.

    In regards to putting things on the bubble being equated with wishy-washiness, I don’t see a problem with admitting that it’s a close call or that the most crucial information is not available to the public.

    I think half the problem is that people take these decisions so personally. I understand many people get more invested in shows than I do, and that’s it’s not a voluntary choice, but they really need to try to not treat a show being canceled like the characters are being murdered in real life. It’s a business decision about a work of fiction, and people should be able to separate their attachment to a show from their knowledge of the general financial situation. I’m a fan of Fringe, and I’m happy that it’s getting this final season, but what we saw of the money wasn’t positive. I think it’s eminently possible to hope for something to continue while realizing that it’s not likely and that there’s a solid reason for it.

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