Out of all the networks, FOX is the one with almost all its ducks in a row. For one, Kevin Reilly has decided he’s not going to do traditional pilot season. They’re developing year round. Two, they’re already renewed or cancelled most of their shows. Let’s take a look at these moves and how they will affect the FOX schedule next season:
– They cancelled The X-Factor, which opens up three more hours during its fall lineup. When you’re dealing with a network that only programs 15 hours a week and two of those are the dead zone Saturdays, that’s a lot. Fox is determined to do more 13 episode seasons, and with X-Factor gone they can do more of that.
– On Friday they renewed The Following, New Girl, Brooklyn Nine Nine, and The Mindy Project. This joins Sleepy Hollow, which was already renewed earlier this season.
– On Monday (3/10), they officially cancelled Raising Hope.
– On the animation front, The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers have long been renewed, American Dad is going to TBS and The Cleveland Show looks like it’s done.
– Glee is returning for it’s final season, and Bones is returning for what is very likely it’s final season.
– On the reality front, MasterChef Junior has been renewed for two more seasons. American Idol looks like they’ll be back but the question is in what capacity will it be back? Fox may very well be rethinking the three hours a week thing.
– Almost Human, Dads, and Enlisted are the remaining question marks. Considering Rake has been moved to Fridays for burn off, that’s usually a sign that it’s been cancelled.
– Gang Related, Surviving Jack, 24 – Live Another Day, and Us and Them have yet to premiere, but the latter has pretty much been cancelled before an episode has aired because Fox wasn’t happy with the scripts. They do plan on burning off the six episodes produced, because what else are we going to watch in the summer? They cancelled animated series Murder Police before it aired, so Fox is definitely looking at a series beyond the pilot. 24 is a 13 episode limited series run, but if it’s successful this could be a yearly thing.
Got all that? Great, because it gets more confusing. You see, there’s a handful of pilots that Fox has already ordered to series. Some are limited series, other have potential for going longer. Below are the ordered shows from this Fox Not!Pilot Season:
Backstrom (13 episodes): Picked up from CBS, it’s about Detective Everett Backstrom an offense, irascible, detective as he tries, and fails, to change his self-destructive ways.
Prognosis: High. I think I already have a new favorite show to watch.
Bordertown (13 episodes): An animated series about two families living in a Southwest border town on the US – Mexico border. From Seth MacFarlane.
Prognosis: Optimistic. Animated and Seth MacFarlane go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Cabot College (multi-camera comedy): A comedy about a woman’s college that for the first time begins accepting men.
Prognosis: Unsure. I can’t tell much based on the description, and it all depends if it’s expect to gel with it’s current (and renewed) Tuesday lineup, or if it’s doomed to Friday burn off before even starting.
Gotham: From DC Comics and Warner Brothers. It’s an origin story about Commissioner James Gordon and the villains that made Gotham famous.
Prognosis: High. This is a very high profile project, and DC and Marvel both are very hot right now. Considering FOX’s new slant on quality, I think they believe they have a winner.
Gracepoint (10 episodes): Here’s the Fox press release on it: Emmy Award-winning actress Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) and two-time Academy Award nominee Jacki Weaver (“Silver Linings Playbook”) will join Welsh BAFTA winner David Tennant (“Broadchurch,” “Dr. Who”) in the highly anticipated event series GRACEPOINT, set to premiere during the 2014-2015 season on FOX. Set in an American town, GRACEPOINT is the American version of the U.K.’s most-watched new drama of the year, “Broadchurch.” The gripping crime series follows the tragic and mysterious death of a young boy found dead on an idyllic beach surrounded by rocks and a jutting cliff-face, from where he may have fallen. Although the cause of his death remains unsolved, the picturesque seaside town where the tragedy occurred is at the heart of a major police investigation and a nationwide media frenzy.
Prognosis: This is an “event” series, so I don’t see it going beyond its scheduled run. These are proving to be a mixed bag with other networks, so we’ll see.
Hieroglyph (13 episodes): You’ve got to read the Fox press release to believe it: Fox Broadcasting Company (FOX) has given a 13-episode series order to HIEROGLYPH, a fantastical action-adventure show produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Chernin Entertainment, and executive-produced by Peter Chernin (NEW GIRL, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”), Katherine Pope (NEW GIRL) and Travis Beacham (“Pacific Rim,” “Clash of the Titans”), who wrote the pilot script. Miguel Sapochnik (“Repo Men,” “Fringe”) will serve as an executive producer on the project and will direct the premiere episode. Production is scheduled to begin in early 2014. Set in ancient Egypt, where fantasy and reality intertwined, HIEROGLYPH follows a notorious thief who is plucked from prison to serve the Pharoah, navigating palace intrigue, seductive concubines, criminal underbellies and even a few divine sorcerers.
Prognosis: Ambitious! This type of series may be FOX’s new niche. It’s working for Sleepy Hollow.
The Last Man on Earth (single-camera comedy): About two strangers that must set aside their differences to save the human race.
Prognosis: Could work. It’s slated for midseason so it’s got time to develop
Mulaney (6 episodes, multi-camera comedy):
Prognosis: I don’t know what this is about, but it was in development for official pilot season last year at NBC. I guess Fox wanted to see it happen. It has Lorne Michaels name attached to it, but it also has Elliot Gould and Martin Short. So yeah, I can’t call this one at all.
Wayward Pines (10 episodes): Here’s another Fox press release describing the show. Beware, it’s long!
(from FOX’s press release, May 2013) Imagine the perfect American town… beautiful homes, manicured lawns, children playing safely in the streets. Now imagine never being able to leave. You have no communica-tion with the outside world. You think you’re going insane. You must be in Wayward Pines. Based on the best-selling novel “Pines” by Blake Crouch and brought to life by sus-penseful storyteller M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense,” “Signs”), WAYWARD PINES is the intense new mind-bending event thriller evocative of the classic cult hit “Twin Peaks.” Secret Service Agent ETHAN BURKE drives to the bucolic town of Wayward Pines, ID, to find two missing federal agents. Ethan was the logical choice for the mission. He’s one of the best Secret Service agents in the Seattle office. He’s also the man who knew missing agent KATE HEWSON better than anyone. They were partners. They were more than that. Their relationship nearly destroyed Ethan’s marriage. Kate transferred to Boise and Ethan thought he’d never see her again. Now, Kate and her new Secret Ser-vice partner, BILL EVANS, are nowhere to be found. But just as Ethan spots the sign that says “Welcome to Wayward Pines, Where Paradise is Home!,” a truck slams into his car. When Ethan wakes up in the Wayward Pines Hospital, he remembers his name, his ad-dress in Seattle and the accident on the outskirts of town. He knows he’s a Secret Ser-vice Agent who came to Wayward Pines to investigate the disappearance of two agents. What he can’t figure out is what’s wrong with this eerily perfect little town. None of the phones work. He can’t get through to his wife back home or his boss at the Secret Ser-vice. His wallet, ID, money, phone…everything is gone. And no one will help him. Back home in Seattle, Ethan’s wife, THERESA, gets a call from Ethan’s boss at the Se-cret Service, ADAM HASSLER. Ethan is missing. No other information is available until early testing shows that Ethan was never in his car that was recovered on the side of the road outside of Wayward Pines. They’re still investigating. This isn’t enough for Theresa. Along with their teenage son, BEN, Theresa sets out on her own search for Ethan. The mystery only deepens as Ethan employs his intelligence and tireless determination to solve the mystery of this unsettling town. Challenged at every turn by the town’s die-hard residents, Ethan’s investigation only turns up more questions, the most important of which is: What’s wrong with Wayward Pines? WAYWARD PINES is a production of FX Productions. The series is created and written by Chad Hodge (“The Playboy Club,” “Runaway”) and executive-produced by Shyama-lan, Hodge, Donald De Line (“Green Lantern,” “The Italian Job”) and Ashwin Rajan (“After Earth”).
Prognosis: This is considered to be a limited event series. It’s from M Night Shyamalan, who doesn’t exactly offer a brilliant track record with films, but then again his style of story telling might work better for television.
Weird Loners (6 episodes, single camera comedy): Four relationship phobic people are suddenly thrust into one another’s lives in Queens, NY.
Prognosis: I’m not sensing longevity here, but they need to air something on Fridays.
What’s left are shows that have officially had pilots ordered. There are five comedies, five dramas, one game-show from of all people Andy Richter (I don’t love game shows but I love Andy!), and a reality show from Ryan Seacrest, which means it’s probably a done deal. Below is a look at the five comedies and dramas, since I don’t give a damn about reality.
Dead Boss (single-camera): Based on a BBC series about a woman trying to prove her innocence after being falsely accused and convicted of killing her boss.
Prognosis: Wow, that’s one dark comedy. Coming from the Brits though, I’m not surprised. I’m not sure how that kind of humor will work here. Americans are too lowbrow.
Fatrick (single-camera): Basically, it’s a 30 year old guy trying to escape the stigma of that fat kid that he was when growing up.
Prognosis: Why do I have a sense this is one of those that FOX will bail on after reading beyond the pilot. It doesn’t sound like a long term premise, but I could be wrong.
Here’s Your Damn Family (multi-camera): A thirty something man set in his ways living with his mother finds his organized world upset when his mother gets married and his new stepdad moves in with his three teenage children.
Prognosis: I like this idea. I just hope they aren’t trying to copy Sheldon Cooper here (although Johnny Galecki is a producer). Considering Jane Kaczmarek is the Mom and Jon Heder is the son, I’m sold. David James Elliot as the new dad only makes it sweeter. Please, give these talented people some great lines!
Sober Companion (single-camera): A self-destructive attorney finds his world turned upside down when the court appoints to him a highly unconventional sober companion.
Prognosis: I saw Justin Long’s name in the cast. I like him, but he isn’t going to save a show. Self-destructive leads are being done a lot these days, especially attorneys (see Rake). I’m not sure this one will fly.
WTF America: Hybrid scripted/unscripted comedy presentation.
Prognosis: If any network can pull off this format, it’s FOX. This is the home of In Living Color and House of Buggin. I’m eager to see this work, but this kind of format is a tough sell too.
Empire: A family drama set in the world of a hip-hop empire.
Prognosis: No idea. Let’s just say it hasn’t been done before.
Home: A family thriller/soap digging into the secrets behind a suburban family.
Prognosis: The only reason this project is here is because it has Jerry Bruckheimer’s name on it. Fox doesn’t succeed with these kind of shows (remember Lone Star?). I don’t see it making it to air.
The Middle Man: Per the press release – Fox Broadcasting Company (FOX) has given a pilot production commitment to THE MIDDLE MAN, a new drama produced by FOX and Pearl Street Films, and executive-produced by Academy Award winner Ben Affleck (“Argo,” “The Town”) and Emmy Award nominee Glenn Gordon Caron (“Medium,” “Moonlighting”), who wrote the pilot script. Affleck (“Argo,” “The Town,” “Gone Baby Gone”) is attached to direct the pilot. Pearl Street Films’ Chay Carter (“Argo,” “The Town,” “Gone Baby Gone”) will also serve as an executive producer on the project. Production is scheduled to begin in early 2014. Set in 1960s Boston, THE MIDDLE MAN explores the unique relationship between RUDY MacATEER, an FBI agent charged with taking down the Italian-American mafia, and his confidential informant, Irish-American gangster MICKEY FLOOD. As Rudy finds himself forced to bend the laws he pledged to enforce, the duo’s actions inadvertently give rise to the Irish-American mob in this timeless Boston crime saga.
Prognosis: Pencil it in. Affleck is gold right now and you know Fox is serious when there’s a press release. This sounds like it will be a great midseason or summer show.
Red Band Society: Let the press release do the talking – A group of teenagers meet as patients in the children’s wing of a hospital and become unlikely allies and friends in this comedic young soap. It represents a completely inspired way into young soap, a comedic one-hour, a hospital show, and a (surrogate) family drama.
Prognosis: They need a teen drama to replace Glee. If this doesn’t pass, there will probably be more pilots like it.
Runner: Per the Fox press release -We find our way into the traditionally masculine world of Arms Dealing through the unexpected lens of a woman. After a simple twist of fate, Lauren Marks learns her husband is not the person she believed him to be. Faced with the harsh reality that her life is forever changed, she goes on a truth seeking journey that entrenches her in a US/Mexican war over weapons and terrorism.
Prognosis: There’s no cast yet. A lot of shows are trying for the strong female lead so in order for this to work, they better find the right one.
So, that’s FOX. Which shows excite you? Coming up last but not least, The CW! They have another interesting mix of dramas that makes fantasy scheduling a bit maddening.