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October 13, 2015

It's Time for FOX to Find a New Night for Live-Action Comedies

by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 13th 2010 5:14PM
'Sons of Tucson'With 'American Dad' restored to FOX's Sunday night lineup this past weekend, all seems right with the world. The network spent years building their "Animation Domination" block, and should be commended for bringing animation back into prime time. The problem is that they seem to have painted themselves into a corner, or at least that's how they're acting.

With the success of these cartoon comedies on Sunday night, FOX programmers seem to think Sunday is their only night for comedy, and they keep trying to establish new live-action hits there. Shows like 'Brothers,' ''Til Death' and the recent 'Sons of Tucson' have all failed to gain traction with the Sunday night FOX audience.

It's time for the network to consider expanding their comedy presence to another night. Leave the successful "Animation Domination" block alone, and let it do what you built it to do. Comedy is on the rise, and ABC proved you can launch a new night of it successfully, if the shows are good enough. But where should FOX go?

The first thing they should consider is the power of 'American Idol' as a lead-in. The reality juggernaut helped make hits out of 'House' and 'Bones,' and could easily work its magic on a quality comedy series. With ratings on the decline, but still one of television's strongest performers, it's time for FOX to "use it or lose it." 'Idol' won't last forever, and they don't want to go back to being the fourth place network they were before it came along.

It's also time to consider trimming that 'Idol' results show back to a half hour, and using that second half hour as a launch pad for comedy. Imagine the sweet spot for a show nestled between 'American Idol' and 'Glee,' moved to Wednesday nights to avoid another lengthy hiatus next year.

But before we even get to the return of 'Idol,' FOX has a great opportunity in the fall to explore comedies on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Right now, nobody is doing comedy on Tuesdays, and there's bound to be an audience out there that doesn't care about reality shows like 'The Biggest Loser' and 'Dancing with the Stars.' FOX could establish a night where they're the only game in town for comedy.

There's also the more aggressive tactic of taking on a weakened Thursday night; 'Fringe' could shift to Monday nights as replacement for the vacating '24.' With its comedic element, 'Bones' is a great companion to an hour of comedy on Thursday. NBC's comedies, while critically acclaimed, aren't lighting up the ratings in the 8 PM ET hour, so it's only the aging 'Survivor' that FOX would have to contend with. An hour later, while 'The Office' remains potent, both 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation' and 'Grey's Anatomy' are on the decline.

It's time for FOX to take back the crown of cutting edge comedy they wore so boldly with such hits as 'Married ... With Children,' 'In Living Color,' 'That '70s Show,' 'The Bernie Mac Show,' 'Malcolm in the Middle' and 'Arrested Development.' In fact, the network hasn't had a legitimate live-action comedy hit since the 2005-06 season, when the latter four series in that list all ended their runs. And while all four were critical hits, only 'That '70s Show' could really be considered a consistent ratings success.

The bottom line is it's time for FOX to get back into the live-action sitcom game. The network has a healthy number of comedies in development for next season, so it's time to get bold and creative in where to place them in their lineup. America is ready to laugh, and they still think of FOX when they think of cutting-edge comedy. It's past time FOX delivered.

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It's really sad that nowadays comedy on Fox is on the hands of Seth MacFarlane. And we can't blame them for not trying. AD was a good experiment and Fox had patient with it, but a show with bad ratings can't survive in any network, despite its quality. I guess if the soil is bad you only can cultivate bad things.

April 14 2010 at 12:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fox's simultaneous blessing and curse is American Idol. They cannot schedule a 2 hour comedy block on Tuesday or Wednesday, because of the varying times of American Idol over that time period.

Post 24, the best night for Fox to launch a comedy block in Monday, going after a significantly different audience than CBS.

April 14 2010 at 12:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Really well said!!

April 13 2010 at 10:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with your comments. I suggest they start airing Sons of Tucson on a different day and at 7:00 or 7:30. I don't understand how the network bosses failed to see it coming when the scheduled such a fine show on the heels of three animations.

April 13 2010 at 7:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony DIMeo

I've been thinking this for years

they used to have both animated and live comedies on sunday but no longer it's a shame

April 13 2010 at 7:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Agree with every word - and I still feel sore over AD.

April 13 2010 at 6:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Something that I have noticed is that the studio 20th Century fox television seems to make lots of good live action comedys for other networks

April 13 2010 at 5:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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