So, Fox, in its quest to give me yet another migraine -- and/or to laugh so I don't cry -- just announced its mid-season schedule, which -- in typical Fox fashion -- has only a passing resemblance to the one they announced back in May. By far the biggest change -- or, at least, the one that's going to get the Internets all ablaze -- is that Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse," once set to air on Mondays as a companion to "24," has now been banished to Fridays at 9, as part of some 10-years-out-of-date all sci-fi bloc with the similarly-doomed "Terinator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." (Speaking of which, I'll get to this week's episode eventually. Promise.)
After the jump, some more thoughts on the new schedule (and how much it deviates from the one they announced), the future of "Dollhouse," etc., etc., etc...
First, here's the lineup, night-by-night, both in terms of what they announced way back when and what the now claim it will be:
SUNDAY: Originally, it was going to be comedy repeats leading into some combination of "The Simpsons," "King of the Hill," "Family Guy," "American Dad" and "The Cleveland Show." The regularly-scheduled reruns are out, as "Hole in the Wall" (aka Human Tetris) will air at 7 & 7:30. Also, the release makes no mention of "The Cleveland Show," though I imagine it'll turn up sooner or later.
MONDAY: Was going to be "Dollhouse" at 8 and "24" at 9. Instead, it'll be "House" at 8 and "24" at 9, which defeats the whole idea of using one of Fox's established drama hits to help launch new shows. (To be fair, they did use "House" to launch one this fall, which leads us to...)
TUESDAY: "American Idol" leading into "Fringe," as planned all along.
WEDNESDAY: "House" was going to lead into a half-hour version of the "Idol" results show, followed by "TBA comedy." Instead, we'll get a one-hour "Idol" at 8, followed by "Lie to Me," a crime procedural with Tim Roth as a kind of human lie detector. Yay!
THURSDAY: "Hell's Kitchen" was going to lead into "Secret Millionaire," but instead Fox is using "Millionaire" as a twice-weekly December stunt. Instead, we'll get a rotation of "Hell's Kitchen" and "Kitchen Nightmares" at 9, and "Bones" allegedly moving to Thursdays at 8. (As with so many previous proposed "Bones" timeslots, I'll believe it when I see it airing there.)
FRIDAY: Was going to be "Bones" (see?) into "'Til Death" and "Do Not Disturb," but "Do Not Disturb" was canceled a long time ago and "'Til Death" (along with "Prison Break") will "return to the schedule at a later date." Instead, we get "Terminator" at 8 and "Dollhouse" at 9, even though the last sci-fi show to work here for Fox -- really, the last show of any kind to work here for Fox -- was "The X-Files," a decade ago.
SATURDAY: "Cops" and "America's Most Wanted," like always.
So, what do we make of all this? A few theories:
1)Fox is happy with how well "Fringe" has been doing and doesn't want to push its luck with a second sci-fi show in a plum timeslot adjacent to a hit like "24" or "Idol," particularly when the show has a concept that's much less straightforward than the one on "Fringe."
2)Fox and Joss have been having a lot of creative disagreements about the show (which Joss discussed here and here, and also here with me), and even though the show's new trailer looks all bright and shiny, they don't believe in the concept enough to place it in a piece of valuable real estate. So they're burying it along with "Sarah Connor," which has languished in fourth place in its Monday timeslot pretty much all season.
3)They do believe in the show, but also think it needs a more hard-core sci-fi show like "Sarah Connor" as a lead-in. And they also recognize that both shows are going to have niche audiences at best and are therefore placing them on a night where the bar for success is much lower.
Under any previous Fox administration, I wouldn't even consider Option 3, but Kevin Reilly is both a good guy and a champion of unusual material, so it's at least a possibility. The other two scenarios are much more likely, and either way, I'm not very optimistic for the future of either "Dollhouse" or "Sarah Connor."