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FOX should pick "Locke & Key" for the fall season

May 6, 2011 - Andrea Johnson
We get to keep "Fringe" at least until the start of next season, but it sounds like the FOX Network executives are now reluctant to put another sci fi show on the air this fall. The buzz is that they think they've already satisfied the fanboys and fangirls by keeping one low-rated sci fi show and don't need another.

That's a pity, since the only FOX television pilots besides the "Bones" spinoff "The Finder" I was pretty gung ho over were science fiction prospects. "Locke & Key," based on a graphic novel series, is about a widow and her children who move into a haunted mansion where there are ghoulies and ghosties and unpleasant dimensions and other things supernatural behind every door. I haven't read the graphic novel, but it sounds like a scary show that would make a good fit to air before "Fringe." FOX is said to be lukewarm on it.

I was less interested in FOX's "Alcatraz," a pilot associated with "Fringe" creator JJ Abrams, about a bunch of Alcatraz prisoners who suddenly appear in the present after having been missing for decades. FOX executives supposedly feel that they've already done Abrams a favor by renewing "Fringe" so they have no reason to take on another of his projects.

As for me, I'm not all that interested in Alcatraz or prisoners and it's getting so I can see Abrams' plots coming from a mile away. I would be willing to bet that "Alcatraz" will include an alternate universe, time travel, a mysterious locked box or a prophet from the Renaissance Era who has drawn a picture of one of the escaped prisoners. It may also involve a physical fight between two good-looking ladies, a clone or an evil twin or some other sort of double that will require the actors to play two different roles, and some sort of pseudo-mystical chapel scene.

Once you've seen "Lost," "Alias," "Fringe," and the new "Star Trek" movie, you can pretty much predict where a new Abrams show is headed. I found these twists entertaining on "Fringe" and in "Star Trek," but grew weary of them on "Alias" and was completely bewildered by them on "Lost." Sometimes the plot twists get so intricate that Abrams and co-writers can't untangle all the plot points by the final episode.

If I were advising the FOX executives, I'd tell them to snap up "Locke & Key" before "Alcatraz." But I'd prefer to see either "Locke & Key" or "Alcatraz" before the pilot they're likely to go with, which is Kiefer Sutherland's new pilot "Touch," with Sutherland playing a father who discovers his mute, autistic son can predict the future. This show sounds unappealing on so many different levels that I can't imagine even watching the first episode.

FOX is definitely planning to air a Steven Spielberg project called "Terra Nova," about a human family sent back in time to join a colony living among dinosaurs on prehistoric earth. With Spielberg involved, the special effects should be impressive. This could be extremely cool, like "Jurassic Park," or it could be incredibly hokey, depending on the quality of the storytelling. Either way, I'm not the audience it's aimed at. FOX wants the preteen set to tune in for the dinosaurs.

I love "Fringe," which will air its third season finale tonight at 8 p.m. on FOX, but I doubt it will last another full season. With its low ratings, it might be off the air before that. I will need another good science fiction show to enjoy. Here's hoping FOX will pick "Locke & Key" in addition to the raunchy sitcoms and vapid reality shows it will probably put on the schedule. FOX will announce its fall schedule later this month.

Update on "Fringe"

Well, after watching the season finale of "Fringe," I'm even more in favor of FOX adding another interesting science fiction series to the mix next season. I'm not sure how the producers plan to dig themselves out of the hole they've created by declaring that Peter never existed and, presumably, that everything that happened in the past three seasons didn't actually happen the way we saw it happen.

This is JJ Abrams pushing the restart button. It worked with Star Trek, which was glutted with 40 years of history and conflicting back stories and aging actors and benefited from being rebooted and having a fresh start with new actors playing young versions of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. I'm not so sure a reboot will work with "Fringe," where Joshua Jackson's Peter was at the center of every episode. Will viewers have the patience to hang around next season? Maybe not.


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