The Upfronts: FOX

by Jason Hughes, posted May 15th 2008 11:33AM
foxFOX announced its plans for the 2008-2009 season today. Here are the highlights:

Returning: The Moment of Truth, So You Think You Can Dance, The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, American Idol, America's Most Wanted, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Bones, Cops, Don't Forget the Lyrics!, Hell's Kitchen, House, King of the Hill, Kitchen Nightmares, MADtv, The Moment of Truth, Prison Break, Talkshow with Spike Feresten, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, 'Til Death

Out: Back To You, Canterbury's Law, K-Ville, Nashville, New Amsterdam, Next Great American Band, Return of Jezebel James, Unhitched

New: Sit Down, Shut Up; The Cleveland Show; Dollhouse (Midseason); Fringe; Do Not Disturb (formerly The Inn); Secret Millionaire (Midseason)

Schedule and detailed descriptions of the new shows after the jump.

As has been the case since American Idol's inception, FOX has essentially set up two schedules. With only two of their new shows premiering in the fall, FOX is continuing their tradition of waiting until January's Idol ratings boost to premiere most of their new slate of programming. FOX Chairman Peter Liguri said "We're going to make plenty of noise and yet potentially have more stability and success than we've had historically in the fourth quarter. We'll be focused in the fall with two new series – one comedy and one drama – and then use our big assets in January to launch an even more powerful second season."

With only two new shows launching in the Fall, FOX is indeed featuring more schedule stability than perhaps ever in their network history. Maybe this means they'll give new shows a longer chance to try and find a voice. After the way Whedon was jerked around with Firefly on FOX, I'm sure he's hoping that this year's Dollhouse will be given a better shot at finding an audience.

The Fall season will be launching with four two-hour premieres before the shows settle into their regular timeslots. On Monday, August 25th, Prison Break premieres with a two-hour episode, followed by two hours of new series Fringe on Tuesday, August 26th, two hours of Bones on Wednesday, August 27th and a two hour season premiere of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? on Thursday, August 28th. Once again, FOX is getting a head-start on the new season with a late August start.

New This Fall (All Times Eastern)

Fringe (Tuesday, 9:00) is the next brain squeeze from executive producer J.J. Abrams (Lost), Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman. It features Mark Valley (Boston Legal) and newcomer Anna Torv as FBI Special Agents who get called in to investigate the grisly deaths of every passenger on board an international flight just arrived at Boston's Logan Airport. The press indicates it's a mix of thrill, terror, sci-fi and drama which sounds a lot like Abrams' little show over on ABC. It also features the return of Dawson Creek's Joshua Jackson, for the kids you know, as the son of this generation's Einstein played by John Nobel (The Lord of the Rings). The mystery behind what happened to flight 627 is but a small piece in a much larger truth that will be revealed over time. Coupling this with House, their strongest non-Idol performer is a smart move for FOX.

Do Not Disturb (previously called The Inn) (Wednesday, 9:30) features the return of Jerry O'Connell (Crossing Jordan, Carpoolers) as the stylish and egocentric general manager of an up-scale New York City hotel. The show looks to be another workplace comedy as its principal cast is the various staff members at the hotel, including Niecy Nash (Reno 911!) in HR, Molly Stanton (Twins) behind the front desk, Brando Eaton (Zoey 101) as the bellman, Jolene Purdy (Donnie Darko) in reservations and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (The Class) as the head of housekeeping. Robert Wagner is set to guest as The Inn's owner, and maybe they can go Love Boat with this one by having celebrity guests at The Inn. Sounds like sweeps gold to me! Maybe Britney Spears will be available.

New Next January (All Times Eastern)

Dollhouse (Monday, 8:00) will serve as the lead-in to the highly anticipated new season of 24. This Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly/Serenity) project has been one of the most buzzed about shows of the new fall season, so it's a bit disappointing to see it shifted to January. And yet, at the same time January is when things really happen at FOX so it might be better for the show this way. Eliza Dushku (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tru Calling) reunites with Whedon for this sci-fi thriller in which Dushku plays an "Active," a member of an illegal underground organization that provides memory wiped individuals for any number of needs, from romantic entanglements to criminal activities. After each deed, the Actives are returned to the "Dollhouse" where their memories are wiped clean readying them for their next assignment. Dushku's memories begin to return, though, providing the fulcrum for this series as she discovers who she was and who she truly is. The show also features Dichen Lachman (Neighbours) and Enver Gjokaj (The Unit) as fellow Actives, Fran Kranz (Welcome to the Captain) as the Dollhouse's programmer, Olivia Williams (X-Men: The Last Stand) who gives the Actives their assignments and Battlestar Galactica's Tahmoh Penikett as the FBI Agent who's on the trail of this elusive organization.

Secret Millionaire (Thursday, 9:00) joins Hell's Kitchen for a new night of reality television. In Millionaire, various wealthy individuals immerse themselves for a time in some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in America. Shot as a documentary, the series follows these "secret millionaires" as they work side-by-side in these communities, trying to get by on minimum wage or worse. The "reality twist" on this one is that at the end of their time living with those less fortunate, the secret millionaire will meet with those people they've met, reveal their true identity and award at least $100,00 of their own money to the most deserving individual they've encountered in their time. A mix of 30 Days and uplifting reality shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, this has the potential to be both insightful and informative.

Sit Down, Shut Up (working title) (Sunday, 8:30) will fall into the schedule in Spring 2009 when King of the Hill wraps up its run. This animated series is brought to you by writer Mitchell Hurwitz (Arrested Development) and Eric and Kim Tannenbaum (Two and a Half Men), which means it's going to be both awesome and incredibly contrived and lame? Set in a fishing town high school, the show focuses on eight faculty members and features the voice talents of Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live), Will Forte (Saturday Night Live), Jason Bateman (Arrested Development), Maria Bramford (Stuart Little 2), Henry Winkler (Arrested Development, Happy Days), Cheri Oteri (Saturday Night Live), Nick Kroll (Cavemen), Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants). With character names like Miracle Groh, Sue Sezno, Stuart Prozackian, Willard Deutschebog and Helen Klench, they're clearly going for more over the top humor than King of the Hill does. The show also promises a unique combination of animation against live-action backdrops to create a one-of-a-kind look.

The Cleveland Show (working title) (Sunday, 9:30) is the reported Family Guy spin-off featuring the popular sidekick character of Cleveland Brown. Apparently, before we knew his as one of Peter Griffin's drinking buddies, Cleveland was a high school student in love. He vowed to his sweetheart that he would aways love her and would be there for her if the man she married ever did her wrong. Apparently, the guy skipped town and so she took him up on his offer, inviting him to join her and her two children in Stoolbend, VA. So Cleveland and his son move creating the nucleus of this new show. Expect the cast to be expanded with more wacky characters including a Victorina-era British family, another family of rednecks and a family of bears at the end of the block. Bears!? "Kids! KIDS!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!"

Here's the schedule:

Fall 2008 (All Times Eastern)
(new shows in bold)

Monday

8:00 - Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
9:00 - Prison Break

Tuesday

8:00 - House
9:00 - Fringe

Wednesday
8:00 - Bones
9:00 - 'Til Death
9:30 - Do Not Disturb

Thursday
8:00 - The Moment of Truth
9:00 - Kitchen Nightmares

Friday
8:00 - Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
9:00 - Don't Forget the Lyrics

Saturday
8:00 - Cops
8:30 - Cops
9:00 - America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back
11:00 - MadTV
Midnight - Talkshow with Spike Feresten

Sunday
7:00 - The OT (NFL post-game)
8:00 - The Simpsons
8:30 - King of the Hill
9:00 - Family Guy
9:30 - American Dad

Winter 2009 (All Times Eastern)
(new shows in bold)

Monday
8:00 - Dollhouse
9:00 - 24

Tuesday
8:00 - American Idol
9:00 - Fringe

Wednesday
8:00 - House
9:00 - 'American Idol (results show)
9:30 - FOX Comedy (TBD)

Thursday
8:00 - Hell's Kitchen
9:00 - Secret Millionaire

Friday
8:00 - Bones
9:00 - 'Til Death
9:30 - Do Not Disturb

Saturday

8:00 - Cops
8:30 - Cops
9:00 - America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back
11:00 - MadTV
Midnight - Talkshow with Spike Feresten
Sunday
7:00 - FOX Comedy (encores)
7:30 - FOX Comedy (encores)
8:00 - The Simpsons
8:30 - King of the Hill (winter) / Sit Down, Shut Up (spring)
9:00 - Family Guy
9:30 - American Dad (winter) / The Cleveland Show (spring)

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Prhime

new amsterdam - sad to see it go
back to you - very very very funny show and it proved he could carry a show post-ray. sad that everyone is still sucking on the reality show teet and exporting foreign shows vs thinking up new ones

May 19 2008 at 5:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bruce

At least T:SCC is renewed. That's the only good news I've heard lately. New Amsterdam should have been given at least one full season. But the writers' strike is still causing all sorts of casualties, even this long after it was resolved.

May 15 2008 at 5:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joey Geraci

A 7-episode first season for Dollhouse is just sad. Why can't Fox executives just be burned at the stake and sent to Hell, where they belong. And it is also rumored that Whedon won't take an active role on the series past the pilot, which is a horrible sign.

May 15 2008 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MERVE-THE-PERVE

I don't buy that Fox is willing to let shows grow. If it ain't getting 10 million plus viewers right away its gone. They don't even care that they put it on a different night or time every week. I'm sure they have about 30 reality crap shows ready to take the places of these new shows as soon as 1 ep falls below 10 million viewers. I too will not watch any new shows until they're on for 2 or 3 years, especially Fox or CBS shows.

May 15 2008 at 5:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ac

Fringe and Dollhouse sound really good. Which means they will be cancelled. Crap!

May 15 2008 at 2:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cassiel

Crap, NEW AMSTERDAM was a Great show, I hope other network buy it... We all want more of this wonderful tv series.

May 15 2008 at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
George

Wow, "Do Not Disturb" sounds suspiciously like a US respray of "Hotel Babylon".

May 15 2008 at 2:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kat

OK, so I get that they change their schedule halfway through. But what happens to Prison Break? They ordered a 23 episode season, how does it just disappear in 2009?

May 15 2008 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gordon Werner

Has Bones ever had a consistent slot on the schedule?

May 15 2008 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Gordon Werner's comment
Christine

Not that I remember and I've watched from the beginning. It's been in the first Tuesday slot in the fall and then replaced by American Idol in January a couple of times. Since then it's been on Wednesdays, Fridays (repeats) and Monday. It does surprisingly well for a show that Fox jerks around so much.

May 15 2008 at 2:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
miller980

The moral to the story is don't bother watching any of the new shows that come out as they will invariably be cancelled. Wait until the second season. Second season shows have a much better chance of renewal. You can always go back and watch the first season online or via DVD.

May 15 2008 at 1:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to miller980's comment
Brent McKee

You hear this all the time and there is one fatal flaw in the logic. If everyone followed your "strategy" every new show would invariably be cancelled because nobody would be watching them in the first place.

May 15 2008 at 2:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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