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October 4, 2015

The Upfronts: Fox

by Jason Hughes, posted May 18th 2009 12:59PM
Fox LogoFox showed some surprising stability in its schedule (our network is growing up) for the 2009-2010 season. But they are bringing in four new comedies, two dramas and a late night Saturday show.

Returning Summer: Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, Don't Forget the Lyrics!, So You Think You Can Dance

Returning Fall/Winter: 24, American Dad, American Idol, Bones, Dollhouse,, Family Guy, Fringe, House, Kitchen Nightmares, Lie to Me, The Simpsons, 'Til Death (for some reason), So You Think You Can Dance (yeah, two separate seasons summer and fall)

Gone: Do Not Disturb, King of the Hill (though there's still episodes in the can which will air sometime next year), Prison Break (a 2-hour film is being produced that may air next year), Sit Down Shut Up, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

New: Brothers, The Cleveland Show, Glee (sneak peek tomorrow), Human Target, Past Life, Sons of Tucson, The Wanda Sykes Show (late night Saturdays)

The schedule and some details on the new shows after the jump.

New Shows

Brothers - (Friday, 8:00) Paired with 'Til Death it will create a family comedy block on television, or at least that's the plan. Michael Strahan stars in this comedy about a just retired NFL player who heads home to help his brother (Daryl "Chill" Mitchell) with his restaurant. The cast is rounded out by CCH Pounder and Carl Weathers as their parents. I'm not sure about this plan to air a comedy block with Dollhouse following on Fridays, but nothing else seems to work, and I do recall a time when Friday nights was all about family comedy.

The Cleveland Show - (Sunday, 8:30) I think we all know what this is by now. The Family Guy spin-off gets the cushy slot between The Simpsons and Family Guy for the fall. It will then move post-FG at midseason to make room for Sons of Tucson, throwing American Dad in the 7:30 death slot.

Glee - (Wednesday, 9:00) Another high profile show for Fox, previewing its pilot tomorrow after Idol even. The show's about a once great high school glee club that's fallen on hard times, but now has an optimistic teacher (Matthew Morrison) who thinks he can make them soar again. It's a musical comedy which is a tough mix on television. Musicals in particular haven't done very well, but it will depend on the blend. Coupling it with SYTYCD should help have the right audience on the couches when it starts.

Human Target - (Wednesday, 9:00) This one's waiting for January, where it will follow Idol. Described as a "fun action drama" like we saw in the '70s and '80s, the premise is based on a DC Comics series about a guy who immerses himself into his client's lives to protect them, essentially getting into the line of fire. In the comic he's also a master of disguise, but this premise seems more like he'll just be near the person rather than pretending to be the person. That means more screen time for star Mark Valley! Also features Jackie Earle Haley and Chi McBride.

Past Life - (Tuesday, 9:00) Fox's other post-Idol launch, Past Life features a partnership with one believer and one skeptic. The topic on the table is reincarnation and how past-life traumas can lead to current life problems. Episodes will feature the pair helping clients today by unraveling mysteries about their past lives. Stars Kelli Giddish and Nicholas Bishop as the partners, as well as Richard Schiff and Ravi Patel.

Sons of Tucson - (Sunday, 8:30) Coming mideason, and breaking up the "Animation Domination" on Sunday comes the next Malcolm in the Middle or Bernie Mac Show, according to Fox. The premise is certainly unique in that it features three young brothers who hire Tyler Labine to be their stand-in dad when the real one goes to prison. I can tell you right now Labine will probably make this hilarious, though it makes me sad for the future of Reaper ... hey, it's a midseason show, he can film a season of Reaper before he does this one, right?

The Wanda Sykes Show - (Saturday, 11:00) Replacing MadTV, the format is a one-hour round table show, taking the issues everyone is talking about with a whole new spin. It will also feature segments taped "in the field" and have Wanda's outspoken personality all over it. What does that mean for her involvement in The New Adventures of Old Christine, likely to continue either on CBS or ABC?

Fall 2009

8:00 House
9:00 Lie to Me

8:00 So You Think You Can Dance (Performance Show)

8:00 So You Think You Can Dance (Results Show)
9:00 Glee

8:00 Bones
9:00 Fringe

8:00 Brothers
8:30 'Til Death
9:00 Dollhouse

8:00 Cops
8:30 Cops
9:00 America's Most Wanted
11:00 The Wanda Sykes Show (Working Title)
12:00 "Animation Domination" Encores

7:00 The OT (NFL Post-Game)
8:00 The Simpsons
8:30 The Cleveland Show
9:00 Family Guy
9:30 American Dad

Midseason 2010

8:00 House
9:00 24

8:00 American Idol (Peformance Show)
9:00 Past Life

8:00 American Idol (Resulst Show)
9:00 Human Target (January) / Glee (Spring)

8:00 Bones
9:00 Fringe

8:00 Brothers
8:30 'Til Death
9:00 Dollhouse

8:00 Cops
8:30 Cops
9:00 America's Most Wanted
11:00 The Wanda Sykes Show (Working Title)
12:00 "Animation Domination" Encores

7:00 "Animation Domination" Encores
7:30 American Dad
8:00 The Simpsons
8:30 Sons of Tucson
9:00 Family Guy
9:30 The Cleveland Show

Question/Answer Segment
(with Kevin Reilly, President and Peter Rice, Chairman of Fox Broadcasting Company)

Re: Dollhouse. Is this a sign of DVR, Hulu et al changing the future fates of renewals?
DVR numbers are a marking and a factor bringing it from a 1.5 to a 2.0. Plus, Joss has a loyal fan base that's worth noting, so they are confident they can grow this show.

Re: Dollhouse. Is it because you'd rather risk Dollhouse's ratings over a brand new show?
Yes, the audience might reject a night of all new television on Fridays. They were more confident that they could grow this brand based on Whedon's loyal fanbase than they were on programming a whole new night of television on a Friday.

Re: Fridays. Do you just expect lower numbers?
They're confident they can grow the night and the show (Dollhouse).

Re: SYTYCD: Worried people might burn out on a summer cycle followed immediately by a fall cycle?
Other reality shows do two in a row. NBC actually grew The Biggest Loser's audience with two cycles this season. Plus, Dance executive producer Nigel Lythgoe will be making some interesting moves, to be revealed later, to bridge the gap between the shows. Fox is trying to avoid having to break up the momentum of existing series during the baseball playoffs in October.

Re: Remote Free TV. What's up with discontinuing the shorter commercial breaks (a la Fringe, Dollhouse)?
Fox is not giving up completely on the format and will use it strategically on different episodes and shows through the season.

Re: Commercials. Do you have any strategies to keep people watching?
Yes. "Alive Air" is an experiment Fox is developing where there will be shorts through the commercial breaks created by show producers to try and keep people from flipping away. These will be vignettes, or something else but they weren't ready to reveal any more details just yet. Stay tuned (literally).

Re: Economics. How will you trim things on returning shows like Bones to keep under possibly lower budgets?
You won't notice the difference.

Re: Glee. Will the ratings for tomorrow's preview affect things like what night you air the series or when it will bow?
No. The network loves Glee. Think of this as an advanced screening. Nothing will change about the launch proper.

Re: Hell's Kitchen Nightmares. Where are they on the schedule?
Hell's Kitchen
is in the summer where it's been the whole time. Fox is hanging on to Kitchen Nightmares for when its needed in the schedule.

Re: Fringe. Will it still be up against CSI, Grey's?
They actually think CBS may move CSI. Fox sees some vulnerability on the night and after establishing Bones there, they're ready to see if Fringe can get a foothold in the 9:00 slot.

Re: American Idol. Four judges next year?
Don't know yet. They'll analyze the whole show after it wraps with its producers. Which was not an emphatic yes.

Re: T:TSCC. Its ratings were similar to Dollhouse, so was cutting costs an issue?
It was a factor, but the decision was based on ratings from Monday's trending as well as the Friday performance. They felt the show wasn't going in the right direction ratings-wise.

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Amen, brother.

May 19 2009 at 11:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Let's hope the Sons of Tucson news might be related to Reaper's up-in-the-air situation, which hopefully will be resolved happily for a Reaper Season Three! We're contacting our CW affiliates and ABC to encourage them to strike that Syndication for Sundays deal!

May 19 2009 at 2:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fringe on Thursday nights against Supernatural? Really? Wow there's a brilliant idea, putting it in direct competition with another show that shares the identical fan base. I love Fringe, but it is definitely not going to win that battle. At least DVR numbers are starting to count.

May 18 2009 at 9:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved TSCC. The cancellation while not surprising, is still disappointing.

I'm lukewarm on Dollhouse. The Joss Whedon 'potential' will only buy The Dollhouse so much time. If the first few episodes don't deliver a big audience, the network will cut back on the episode order and basically destroy it in the process. It could be Firefly all over again.

Fringe sparked my interested again with the final reveal during the last episode. I would tune in next year and just hope it gets better.

May 18 2009 at 4:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fox will regret the decision with TSCC once they see how well it does in syndication and on DVD.

May 18 2009 at 2:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to mdisloki's comment

Poor Sit Down, Shut Up... If only you managed not to suck you could have been good.

May 18 2009 at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would like to see some sort of conclusion for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Can't they do a mini-series or made for TV movie? They can't leave it like they did. It makes no sense! The FUTURE IS RUINED!!!

May 18 2009 at 2:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

WTF, I stopped watching Fringe because it obviously sucked and would never be renewed and kept watching The Sarah Connor Chronicles because it had real drama and a story line I could at least accept.

And, of course, they cancel TSCC and keep Fringe. Well, see, Fox, this is what you get for cancelling shows in the past. I had to make a call on which one was likely to survive, because I knew you would cancel at least one if not both and I was right (and wrong) and you lose a viewer, probably for a long time, on these shows and future new efforts because you cancel stuff without giving it a chance to establish a real audience.

May 18 2009 at 2:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jim's comment

You do realize that TV is a business. Yes, I will miss TSCC and it's a shame the finale won't be resolved but Fox certainly gave it a chance. Heck, they aired the premiere after the Super Bowl which is the biggest promotion a network can give a show. It had 1.5 seasons to attract an audience, and despite it's quality it shed viewers at an alarming rate from that premiere. Frankly, the strike-shortened season prevented Fox from seeing how rapidly the audience was deteriorating and gave us the surprise 2nd season renewal. Fox even picked up the back 9 episodes despite it's sinking Monday ratings. Like Arrested Development, I would say Fox gave it enough time and promotion to succeed. Unfortunately, it didn't.

Fringe, on the other hand had the highest 18-49 demo of a new show (yes, higher than the Mentalist) and it's quality improved as the season went on. It was a slam dunk for renewal.

May 18 2009 at 3:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

with Terminator : SCC gone the only thing on FOX for me now is 24 thank god for the other networks

May 18 2009 at 2:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh, dear. I don't see Fringe surviving in that timeslot. I hope it gets moved before it gets canceled. :(

May 18 2009 at 2:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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