Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fox upfront, take one

The conference call with Peter Liguori and Kevin Reilly is in a few minutes, so I have to be really quick. Preliminary thoughts on the Fox sked, plus a full list of both the fall and spring skeds, coming up after the jump...

So, some initial thoughts:
  • This is much less convoluted than the average Fox schedule. There are officially only two different skeds: one for the fall, and one for when "Idol" comes back. There's some noodling in the spring with the cartoons, but they're not announcing 87 different iterations of the sked, none of them remotely resembling what will actually happen.
  • Not surprisingly, both the J.J. Abrams-produced "Fringe" and the Joss Whedon-produced "Dollhouse" (pictured above) made it onto the schedule, with the former getting the benefit of airing after "House" in the fall and "Idol" in the spring, and the latter getting to be the lead-in to "24." Not sure if either show is compatible with Fox's biggest hits, but you can't say they're not putting them in good timeslots.
  • That said, they keep claiming that "Bones" will one day air Fridays at 8 at mid-season, and it hasn't really come to pass yet. Think it will this year?
  • Not mentioned below, the "24" prequel movie (setting up the events of the next season) will air on November 23.
  • "5th Grader" and "Don't Forget the Lyrics!" do decently on Thursdays despite tough competition from the other networks. By moving them to Friday, Fox could have their first passable Friday schedule since "X-Files" moved to Sundays.
  • I know it was announced a while ago, but they're really devoting an entire series to Cleveland from "Family Guy"?
  • Other than the continued existence of "'Til Death," this looks a lot more like a Fox schedule than the last few years of CBS-lite stuff they've been doing. Lots of dramas that are either serialized, science fiction, or both, even more animated comedies, and more reality on the official schedule.

Gotta jump on the call. Here's the schedule(s):

FOX PRIMETIME SCHEDULE: FALL 2008

(All Times ET/PT)

MONDAY
8:00-9:00 PM TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES
9:00-10:00 PM PRISON BREAK



TUESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM HOUSE
9:00-10:00 PM FRINGE



WEDNESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM BONES
9:00-9:30 PM ‘TIL DEATH
9:30-10:00 PM DO NOT DISTURB (wt)



THURSDAY
8:00-9:00 PM THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
9:00-10:00 PM KITCHEN NIGHTMARES



FRIDAY
8:00-9:00 PM ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A 5th GRADER?
9:00-10:00 PM DON’T FORGET THE LYRICS!



SATURDAY
8:00-8:30 PM COPS
8:30-9:00 PM COPS
9:00-10:00 PM AMERICA’S MOST WANTED: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK
11:00 PM-Midnight MADtv
Midnight-12:30 AM TALKSHOW WITH SPIKE FERESTEN



SUNDAY
7:00-8:00 PM THE OT (NFL post-game)
8:00-8:30 PM THE SIMPSONS
8:30-9:00 PM KING OF THE HILL
9:00-9:30 PM FAMILY GUY
9:30-10:00 PM AMERICAN DAD



FOX PRIMETIME SCHEDULE: BEGINNING JANUARY 2009

(All Times ET/PT)

MONDAY
8:00-9:00 PM DOLLHOUSE
9:00-10:00 PM 24



TUESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM AMERICAN IDOL
9:00-10:00 PM FRINGE



WEDNESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM HOUSE
9:00-9:30 PM AMERICAN IDOL Results Show
9:30-10:00 PM TBA Comedy



THURSDAY
8:00-9:00 PM HELL’S KITCHEN
9:00-10:00 PM SECRET MILLIONAIRE



FRIDAY
8:00-9:00 PM BONES
9:00-9:30 PM ‘TIL DEATH
9:30-10:00 PM DO NOT DISTURB (wt)



SATURDAY
8:00-8:30 PM COPS
8:30-9:00 PM COPS
9:00-10:00 PM AMERICA’S MOST WANTED: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK
11:00 PM-Midnight MADtv
Midnight-12:30 AM TALKSHOW WITH SPIKE FERESTEN



SUNDAY
7:00-7:30 PM COMEDY ENCORES
7:30-8:00 PM COMEDY ENCORES
8:00-8:30 PM THE SIMPSONS
8:30-9:00 PM KING OF THE HILL (January) / SIT DOWN, SHUT UP (wt) (spring)
9:00-9:30 PM FAMILY GUY
9:30-10:00 PM AMERICAN DAD (January) / THE CLEVELAND SHOW (wt) (spring)

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't get why Fox even bothers announcing a midseason schedule anymore. None of the other networks bother doing it (save for NBC this year and we know those skeds will never happen either.) Does it really help sell to advertisers any better? It also seems especially dumb when we know that they're gonna have to juggle stuff so they can accomdate Prison Break and Terminator sometime in the spring.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Fox still does it because they have "Idol" coming on the air in January, it's the biggest show on TV, and they know they'll have to shuffle the schedule around to make room for it.

Adam said...

Secret Millionaire, from what I've read, could be ghastly. Let's hang out with and exploit the homeless for ratings!

Anonymous said...

I guess the sci-fi stuff seems very Fox, but remember when the network's bread and butter was stuff like 90210, Melrose Place, and Party of Five? It seems like they've completely ceded those types of shows to the CW and ABC. Granted, their last attempt, The OC, was never a ratings monster, but they've had so many sci-fi flops in the last decade that I'm surprised they haven't tried a couple of soapier shows here and there.

Mrglass said...

House at 8pm and changing day mid-season is surprising, I would have thought FOX would treat their one hit drama better.

Clearly they hope Fringe will be another Lost, but they might get another Alias instead at a steep price.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I would have thought FOX would treat their one hit drama better.

They've talked about moving House to 8 in the past (and I think it might have actually aired there at some point), and they already moved it to a new night this season when Idol came back. I think their thinking at this point is that it and Idol are their only two pieces that can be used to launch new shows, so they have to be prepared to move it around a bit.

Mrglass said...

^ I see. Still, House could have been the #1 show in demo next year with more support. At 8pm, ratings will necessarily be lower; perhaps FOX doesn't think the show has more than a couple of years left and instead invests all they got in Abrams' latest over-hyped project.

And it is nice to see Idol results back to 30 minutes. Although this very boring season kind of killed my interest in that show.

mac said...

That promo pic for Dollhouse looks awful.

Andrew said...

I don't see how an earlier timeslot necessarily dictates lower ratings. They've moved the show around before, and the audience remains pretty much constant. The shows going to remain a hit no matter where they put it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I don't see how an earlier timeslot necessarily dictates lower ratings.

Viewing levels go up as the night progresses, as people finish with dinner, putting kids to bed, being outside, etc. It's one of the reasons why, say "Big Bang Theory" consistently did better than "HIMYM" when "Bang" was at 8:30 and "HIMYM" at 8, and why those numbers have reversed themselves when the shows swapped timeslots.

With rare exceptions, like the "Idol" performance show, 9 o'clock shows tend to draw bigger audiences than 8 o'clock shows, because more people are watching TV at that hour.

Anonymous said...

Someone please explain Joss Whedon's fascination with Eliza Dushku to me.

mac said...

He's a geek. She's hot.

Mrglass said...

^ House will remain a hit, but how much of a hit of course depends on its time slot. On Tuesday in Fall it was avering about 18m viewers, and last year in Spring after Idol 22m. The last few episodes moved to Monday have done below 15m.

And it is well-known the 8pm slot has lower viewers in general than 9pm, that is why the highest rated dramas (Grey's, CSI, Housewives) are all at 9pm.

So if this is really the schedule, I see it as FOX doing all it possibly can to make a hit out of 'Fringe', at the expense of veteran 'House'. Even though Abrams is the biggest hack in the industry.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Someone please explain Joss Whedon's fascination with Eliza Dushku to me.

Basically, she's Jessica Alba if Jessica Alba could act.

BGF said...

Not surprisingly, both the J.J. Abrams-produced "Fringe" and the Joss Whedon-produced "Dollhouse" (pictured above) made it onto the schedule, with the former getting the benefit of airing after "House" and the latter getting to be the lead-in to "Idol." Not sure if either show is compatible with Fox's biggest hits, but you can't say they're not putting them in good timeslots.

Looks like Dollhouse is the lead-in to 24, not Idol, no?

I can't give Whedon any crap for his casting decisions-- he really has a magic touch.

Niffer said...

Basically, she's Jessica Alba if Jessica Alba could act.

Heh, funny you should say that. When I first saw the pitcure I thought, "What? They're resurrecting Dark Angel? Why?" Then I realized it was Eliza Dushku in a Joss Whedon show, and I thought, "Cool!"

LA said...

No sign of Unhitched... I wonder if Rashida Jones is headed back to The Office or a spinoff? Any info, Alan?

Bobman said...

Basically, she's Jessica Alba if Jessica Alba could act

Now that's funny right there.

Anna said...

Eliza Dushku can act?? I mean, I like the girl, and I love Faith, and I'm dying to see Dollhouse, but I have never ever thought of her as any sort of good actress.

That promo picture was airbrushed to all hell, which is why I don't like it, but I must say Tahmoh looks really good in that suit.

dez said...

Is "Dollhouse" about a souped-up yoga/pilates studio? :-D

And is that Tuvok in the background?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Took a while for Fox to post the full release to their press site, but you can read it here.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Looks like Dollhouse is the lead-in to 24, not Idol, no?

Yeah, that was a flub. Now fixed.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And is that Tuvok in the background?

Nah. Harry Lennix from the Matrix sequels and such.

Filipe Furtado said...

It's worthy to point out that Dushku was the one with a development deal at Fox, so she pick Whedon and not the other way around.

Mrglass said...

As a fan of Whedon, Dollhouse looks very promising indeed, sadly it doesn't seem to get nearly as much support as the (soon) overrated Fringe. 8pm, no lead-in.

Not to mention, a Whedon SF show on FOX? Let's hope it last longer than Firefly at least.

Eric Fingerhut said...

J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon have both created great shows, and I like that Fox seems to be the only network that is at least putting on some fresh, interesting shows, but the descriptions of both Fringe and Dollhouse are so convoluted and confusing that even after reading their entire descriptions I still wasn't sure what they were about. I tend to think that if a show's concept can't be explained in a sentence it's going to have a tough time succeeding (Lost: People stuck on a desert island where strange stuff happens; Buffy: hot teen vampire slays demons as metaphor for high school). But these two shows don't seem to have that potential.

mac said...

"As a fan of Whedon, Dollhouse looks very promising indeed, sadly it doesn't seem to get nearly as much support as the (soon) overrated Fringe. 8pm, no lead-in."

What are you talking about? Fox is putting it as the lead-in to 24, and so far I've heard no one talking about Fringe, while the Whedonites are buzzing about Dollhouse as if it's the second coming. Ironically, the best thing that ever happened to Whedon is that he never became wildly popular with the mainstream. His relative obscurity keeps his cult-genius myth alive and well.

Mrglass said...

Having 24 after Dollhouse doesn't help the latter in any way; except for a few 24 fans who might watch the last five minutes of the show before.

On the other hand, Fringe gets the two most highly rated FOX shows as lead-in. After AI, that means automatically above 10 million viewers even for the worst FOX series (like New Amsterdam this year), while Dollhouse has to start the evening, a difficult task for a new show on a competitive night.

There is no question FOX is doing all it can to make a hit out of Fringe, at the expense of other series.

Grim said...

To Adam, Fox's Secret Millionaire could be horrible, but the British show it is based on (I think the format could have been done somewhere else), is actually genuinely warm, informative and not at all exploitative.

A lot of it self-made millionaires, who go back home and see suffering and the hard and thankless work that many people undertake.

Of course that format can be ruined if you choose socialite trust fund kids and attempt to make it a horrible culture clash show.

Rachel said...

That promo picture was airbrushed to all hell, which is why I don't like it, but I must say Tahmoh looks really good in that suit.

Amen! I'll miss Tanktop!Tahmoh, though. Hopefully they'll find excuses to have him shed his sleeves every once in awhile.

I'll probably check out both Fringe (Pacey Whitter!) and Dollhouse, but I am not sure how many more shows I can add to my schedule. And thank goodness my DVR is so smart -- otherwise I'd miss every episode of Bones because they move it all the time.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I don't have a dog in the Abrams vs. Whedon fan fight, but keep this in mind: Fringe, while it has sci-fi elements, takes the "X-Files" template of doing mostly standalone episodes and taking place in something resembling the real world, while "Dollhouse" is heavily-serialized and more hard-core science fiction.

The former is a much easier sell. Also, it'll be ready to air in the fall, while "Dollhouse" won't.

Bobman said...

even for the worst FOX series (like New Amsterdam this year)

Aww, I really liked New Amsterdam (though admittedly more as a premise than the actual show)...

Dark Tyler said...

First of all, Alan, your Jessica Alba/Eliza Dushku quote was pure sig line-worthy brilliance.

Second, I agree that FOX will bet everything on Fringe and I don't blame them. Simpler show, monster producer, easier sell. But I presume the expectations will be shaped according to that; they couldn't possibly expect Dollhouse to bring in Fringe's numbers. After all, the early hype for Dollhouse's pilot script is shockingly good, and I really have faith in Kevin Reilly that he'll champion the show the way he did when he was at NBC.

Dark Tyler said...

(I made it sound as if Kevin Reilly championed Dollhouse while at NBC.)

Matt said...

FWIW, Fox is already heavily promoting "Fringe," with full back page of the NYT arts section this morning and handing out free NY Posts wrapped in Fringe ads in midtown. Only other fall show I've seen any promotion for was a 15 second no cast "image" promo for "90210" during Reaper on Tuesday.

And anyone who thinks Idol results will stick to a half hour is deluding themselves, especially since the other half hour is occupied by "Comedy TBA!"

Alan Sepinwall said...

And anyone who thinks Idol results will stick to a half hour is deluding themselves, especially since the other half hour is occupied by "Comedy TBA!"

Liguori waffled on the half-hour thing, implying that it would likely expand and contract depending on the Very Special Musical Guests who would be available in a given week, but he also seemed to recognize that the show needs some fixing, and tightening up the results show is an obvious place to start.

Even more obvious: Firing Randy Jackson and replacing him with someone more insightful about music and performance. (Basically, any other human on the planet.)

anon said...

especially since the other half hour is occupied by "Comedy TBA!"

Wait, According to Jim is moving to Fox?

Anon

Anonymous said...

Alan, you're dissing Randy Jackson when Paula Abdul is sitting right next to him?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, you're dissing Randy Jackson when Paula Abdul is sitting right next to him?

Absolutely.

Paula has a role to play on that show -- the one who's all sunshine and rainbows and never thinks a contestant ever does anything bad -- and she plays it, often in unintentionally hilarious fashion. (I was being serious the other day when I said her time-traveling critique of Jason Castro was one of the season's few highlights.) Randy's apparent role is as the music industry veteran who tries to offer comments that can be more critical than anything Paula says, but in a more constructive fashion than anything Paula says. But he doesn't do that. He just throws out one of his half-dozen catchphrases in random order, and lately he hasn't even been commenting on the actual performances. Little Archie will be done singing and all Randy will say is, "I don't care, if you can sing, you can sing, dawg!"

I have more contempt for Randy than almost anyone else on television. Paula's either slow-witted or crazy, but Randy's just a lazy hack who was lucky enough to be available when Fox was casting the first season of a show no one had any idea would be this huge.

Jeff L said...

"Dollhouse" is heavily-serialized and more hard-core science fiction.


Oh goody. 'Cuz the last time Joss put a hard-core science fiction serial on Fox, it worked out so very, very well.

Seriously, what is the guy thinking? I love his stuff, but what could possibly posses him to get in bed with Fox again? And with a Sci-Fi show, no less.

Dark Tyler said...

Jeff, technically Eliza brought Whedon to FOX since she has a deal over there. They came up with the concept of the show together, so he really had no choice.

But again, Kevin Reilly. The man who gave even 'Studio 60' the chance to air a complete season.

Anna said...

Not that I really love FOX or anything, but I think people are harder on the network execs than they really have to be. I mean, they did give Arrested Development three seasons despite the show never getting good ratings. I think that was a pretty worthy effort on their part. And, as far as working with Joss goes, it's a whole different bunch of people at FOX now from when Firefly was on the air. And Firefly had so much behind-the-scenes drama between Joss and the network, it was doomed before it ever aired a single episode. I haven't heard anything about that kind of stuff happening with Dollhouse. So I'm at least cautiously optimistic.

Alap said...

any word on what happened to "the oaks," that shawn ryan show about a haunted house that actually sounded pretty cool? i think the pilot was already produced, wasn't it?

Todd said...

alap, Deadline Hollywood Daily reported Fox passed on The Oaks.

Nicole said...

And post time-travel episode, I think Paula has been more coherent than Randy giving honest comments that usually make sense. She's not perfect, but then Simon can get in a rut too.

I think Randy's been talking too much to YDA's dad and thus is afraid to give real criticism.

Kenrick said...

I want Journeyman back! Oh wait, that was nbc that canceled a show I like, not fox.

Ben G said...

why is no one talking about Mitch Hurwitz's Sit Down, Shut Up? that's the show i'm most excited for. Plus the cast is like a mini AD reunion with Bateman, Arnett, and Winkler. I can't wait to see it.

LA said...

Totally agree with Alan's comments about the worthless Randy Jackson.

jim treacher said...

That promo pic for Dollhouse looks awful.

Why?

The grouping really interests me. This might be the first promo pic I've seen that shows obvious cliques.

Dark Tyler said...

This is interesting. I don't fully get it, though. Will Dollhouse episodes be 55 minutes long?

Andrew said...

I notice that both Sarah Connor & Prison Break disappear from the schedule at midseason. Does that mean that they're both working with smaller orders? For some reason, I thought I remembered reading somewhere that Prison Break had 23 episode order this season.