Is calling a show a "cult" hit just another way of saying it never really found a big audience?
"Fringe" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14) wraps up its head-scratcher of a story about parallel universes and dark conspiracies tonight.
Fox deserves credit for keeping the series around (despite meager ratings) for a final 13-episode season and a chance to finish the story. (For those who still care.)
"Fringe" joins many series on Fox and, for that matter, every other network that have gone to Friday nights to die. Fox hasn't had a show on Friday night that stuck around for more than a season or two since the mid-1990s, when "The X- Files" flourished on Fridays before moving to Sundays.
"Millennium" had some success for Fox on Fridays in the late '90s. But pretty much since the dawn of the 21st century, Friday has been an even-
ing that Fox designated for shows languishing in their final year, or for doomed new series, often with a cult, sci-fi bent.
The list of Fox's one-season or half-season wonders that expired on Friday nights includes "Freaky Links" (2000), "Firefly" (2002), "John Doe" (2002), "Wonderfalls" (2004), "Vanished" (2006) and "The Finder" (2012). Some of these short-lived shows have achieved cult status, most notably "Firefly" and, to a lesser extent, "Wonderfalls." But that only reaffirms the notion that sometimes a cult audience is not large enough to sustain a show.
---People get too close to animals they have no business owning in the series opener "Terror at Bear Farm" on "Fatal Attractions" (10 p.m., Animal Planet, TV-PG).
---The History Channel's "Ultimate Guide to the Presidents" concludes with "Hail to the Chief: 1945-1964" (9 p.m., TV-PG) and "Mantle of Power: 1965-2013" (10 p.m., TV-PG).
---"Best Week Ever" (10 p.m., VH1) returns with a new panel of
experts and wiseacres, rounding up the past seven days in popular
culture, a period certain to be dominated by the Golden Globes and Lance Armstrong's official media mea culpa on "Oprah's Next Chapter."
---The owner of a Southwestern-themed restaurant chain encounters poor management on "Undercover Boss" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---"Great Perform- ances" (9 p.m., PBS) presents Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera" at London's Royal Albert Hall.
---A new homeowner discovers scorpions on "In fested!" (9 p.m., Animal Planet, TV-PG).
---A masked man is found at the bottom of a cursed building on "CSI: NY" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Danny gets pulled over with drugs in his car on "Blue Bloods" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Arthur has reservations about raising the dead on "Merlin" (10 p.m., Syfy, TV-14).
---Parents form a band that plays children's music on "Portlandia" (10 p.m., IFC, TV-14).
---A rave becomes the epicenter of a tainted drug epidemic on "Banshee" (10 p.m., Cinemax, TV-MA).
---Summer brings a lull in the action on "Bering Sea Gold" (10 p.m., Discovery, TV-14).
---Muhammad Ali discusses boxing, race and politics and visits with the polarizing comic actor Stepin Fetchit in the 1970 documentary "A.K.A. Cassius Clay" (10 p.m., ESPN Classic), released during Ali's conexile from the boxing ring.
---Rutger Hauer stars in the 2011 shocker "Hobo With a Shotgun" (10 p.m., TMC), an homage to cheap and gritty action movies of the 1970s.
A social worker finds a twisted (or overprotective) mother who forces her grown son to act like an infant, wear diapers and live in a playpen in the 1973 shocker "The Baby" (2 a.m., TCM).
---Immigration reforms on "Last Man Standing" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---Whack a mole on "Nikita" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).
---June's success irks Reba on "Malibu Country" (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---Cyndi Lauper, Gary Valentine, Fortune Feimster and Ryan Stout appear on "Chel sea Lately" (11 p.m., E!, r).
---Kevin Bacon, Brian Kiley and the Amazing appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS).
---Jay Leno welcomes Bob Costas and Big Boi on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).
---"Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:35 p.m., ABC) glances back at the week's previous shows.
---Jessica Chastain, Josh Gad, Alan Zweibel and the Joy Formidable visit "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC).
---Craig Ferguson hosts Carrie Fisher and Steven Yeun on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
Kevin McDonough can be reached at kevin.tvguy@g mail.com.