Flipping Channels: Fringe Lunatics Await Friday's Finale

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From all accounts, the series finale of J.J. Abrams' Fringe, which airs 7 p.m. Friday on WZTV-17, will accomplish something that often eluded it throughout its five-year run: clarity.

"I didn't want to come up with more universes or pull any dramatic tricks," showrunner Joel Wyman recently told TV Guide. "A lot of times a showrunner is in the position to do what they like, because at the end of a series, nobody can tell you what to do. But I owe so much to the fans, I wanted to make sure it was for them."

The Internet is rife with false scripts, speculative conclusions and dubious claims, but producers have confirmed a couple of things. The 2036 time frame for the storyline is set. At least one character is definitely dying (the daughter of Peter and Olivia), but another (or two) who have been gone a while will return. There's also reportedly glory ahead for Walter (John Noble), and resolutions for Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick), Olivia (Anna Torv), Peter (Joshua Jackson) and some others. The two-hour episode isn't going to leave any thematic loose ends, something that always irritates faithful fans who've supported shows from the beginning.

Despite the show's devoted following, Fox could never parlay Fringe into even a cult hit like Lost, to say nothing of the demographic success Abrams' latest program Revolution proved to be this fall. Some blamed it on the fact content and direction seemed as unpredictable as the diseases and characters the Fringe team investigated. Getting shifted early to Friday nights also affected their support, as did lengthy periods off the schedule. It was always beloved critically, but all that got Fringe was a fifth season, and half a year to wrap things up. It seems Wyman and Co. are going to do that in style.

Supernatural in Hell, fans in heaven
The departure of Smallville made Supernatural the CW's longest-running show, and it seems poised for at least one more season. It's eight years and counting for the battling Winchester brothers Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki). Their missions have been in flux: They began fighting ghosts, witches and demons, and now they're off to complete the translation of "The Word of God" tablet (honest). If successful, they'll be able to shut the gates of Hell forever. As would be expected, neither Satan nor any of his minions are going to let them do that unopposed.

Then there's that other little unresolved conflict that's been going on for about two seasons featuring heavenly disputes between angels. Dean and Sam not only want to avoid being sucked back into it, but need to discover exactly what Castiel (Misha Collins) has on his mind. They discover as they rescue him from Purgatory that there's a lot more happening than they suspected.

The Winchesters will also have a reunion with their grandfather (Gil McKinney) through the miracle of time travel. Technical genius/fighting assistant Charlie Bradbury (Felicia Day) is also returning for an episode that sends the crew back to the days of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. New episodes resume 8 p.m. Wednesday on CW-58 locally.

New wrinkles in Suits
It's not as easy going or flippant as Psych, nor focused on crime solving (White Collar), lifestyles of the rich and famous (Royal Pains), or espionage (Covert Affairs). But USA's top-rated program isn't any of those; it's the legal drama Suits, which begins the winter portion of its schedule 9 p.m. Thursday. The new shows find the firm still recovering from the failed coup, which kept familiar faces in power but heightened tensions to the point blows were nearly struck.

Non-law school grad Mike's (Patrick J. Adams) masquerade as a Harvard alumnus has always been on shaky ground. It will get even weaker as the emotional fallout from the death of his grandmother sends him spiraling back into drug use, even as old enemies keep digging into his background seeking to expose the fraud. He's also juggling affairs, trying to keep Rachel (Meghan Markie) happy without ending his liaison with a married woman.

Harvey (Gabriel Macht) came out on top in the latest battle with Louis (Rick Hoffman), but that's only made Louis more determined to get both Harvey and Mike as well as Jessica (Gina Torres), who couldn't hide her disdain when he chose the wrong side in the coup. On most programs such intrigue makes for overwrought soap opera, but the Suits team adroitly turns it into first-class character-driven drama. They even manage to sneak some courtroom scenes into the mix. While it's not quite as intricately plotted or acted as The Good Wife, TV's current gold standard for legal drama, Suits has forged its way into USA's upper echelon.

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