The FOX network unveiled its 2011-12 schedules – since FOX likes to reveal both the Fall and mid-Season line-ups at the same time – this afternoon. While the network made considerable changes the actual list of cancellations was rather modest. Five new series will debut in the Fall and three more will show up at mid-season.
Cancelled: Lone Star, Running Wilde, The Good Guys, Lie To Me, Human Target, The Chicago Code, Traffic Light, Breaking In, America’s Most Wanted.
Moved: House (at least for half a season).
Retained: American Dad, The Cleveland Show, Family Guy, The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, Glee, Fringe, Raising Hope, Bones, American Idol, Kitchen Nightmares, House, Cops, So You Think You Can Dance.
New Series: Dramas – Terra Nova, Alcatraz, The Finder
Comedies – New Girl, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, Allen Gregory, Napoleon Dynamite.
Reality: The X-Factor.
Complete Schedule (New Shows in capitals; All times are Eastern; Shows scheduled to debut at mid-season are named after the / )
8:00-9:00 p.m. TERRA NOVA/ House
9:00-10:00 p.m. House (New Time)/ALCATRAZ
8:00-9:00 p.m. Glee
9:00-9:30 p.m. NEW GIRL
9:30-10:00 p.m. Raising Hope
8:00-9:30 p.m. X-FACTOR PERFORMANCE/American Idol Performance
9:30-10:00 p.m. I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER
8:00-9:00 p.m. X-FACTOR RESULTS/American Idol Results
9:00-10:00 p.m. Bones/THE FINDER/Bones
8:00-9:00 p.m. Kitchen Nightmares
8:00-9:00 p.m. Cops
9:00-10:00 p.m. Encores or America’s Most Wanted (Specials)
7:00-7:30 p.m. The O/T / Animation Domination Encores
7:30-8:00 p.m. The Cleveland Show
8:00-8:30 p.m. The Simpsons
8:30-9:00 p.m. ALLEN GREGORY/NAPOLEON DYNAMITE
9:00-9:30 p.m. Family Guy
9:30-10:00 p.m. American Dad/Bob’s Burgers
Terra Nova, created by Steven Spielberg, was announced at last year’s upfronts but production difficulties meant that it wasn’t available for the 2010-11 season. This family adventure is set in 2149. Earth is dying of overcrowding and overdevelopment. The only hope for mankind’s salvation is the discovery of a fracture in time that will allow humanity to be resettled in Earth’s primeval past. The Shannon family are part of the Tenth Pilgramage to the first colony: Terra Nova. They are Jim (Jason O’Mara) a devoted father with a checkered past, his wife Elizabeth (Shelley Conn) a trauma surgeon, his 17 year-old son Josh (Landon Liboiron) who resents leaving the world he knew behind him, 15 year-old Maddy (Naomi Scott) an awkward teen who hopes that she can reinvent herself in her new home, and 5 year-old Zoe (Alana Mansour) who is the subject of a secret that could jeopardize the family’s place in this new world. Stephen Lange plays Commander Nathaniel Taylor, the leader of the new settlement who warns the new arrivals of the dangers they face…and not just from the local dinosaurs. There are threats outside of the colony, and inside as well. Also stars Allison Miller and Christine Adams.
Alcatraz is the new series from J.J. Abrams. While investigating a grisly murder San Francisco Police detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) makes a shocking discovery. A fingerprint found at the scene belongs to Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce), a man who died decades ago… in the Federal Prison at Alcatraz. Both Rebecca’s links to the prison run deep – her grandfather and her surrogate uncle were both guards there – and when Federal Agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) tries to impede her investigation she becomes even more determined, particularly when she discovers that not only is Sylvane alive and leaving a trail of bodies throughout the city, but he hasn’t aged a day since he was in Alcatraz. Teaming with Alcatraz expert and comic book geek Dr. Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia) Madsen is eventually forced to team up with Hauser and his technician Lucy Banerjee (Parminder Nagra). Together they discover that Sylvane may be the first prisoner from Alcatraz to appear, but he won’t be the last… and it appears that Hauser is expecting it. Also stars Santiago Cabrera, Jonny Coyne, and Jason Butler Harner.
New Girl stars Zoe Deschanel plays Jess Day, a young woman who moves into an apartment with three guys after suffering a bad breakup. Jess is off-beat and adorable, described as goofy, positive vulnerable and honest to a fault. She’s more confident in dealing with women than she is with men, particularly at home. Of her three roommates, Nick is the most grounded. Although he once had big plans for his life he eventually stopped caring and became a bartender. Schmidt (Max Greenfield) is a an hustling young professional who is both socially ambitious and considers himself a modern Casanova. He regards Jess as a gateway in to the female mind. The third roommate Coach (Daman Wayans Jr.) is a former high school athlete who now works as a personal trainer. He maintains a macho exterior but it covers his shyness with women. Rounding out the cast is Cece (Hannah Simone), Jess’s life long friend. A deadpan somewhat cynical professional model she has the street smarts that Jess lacks. Their qualities balance each other and they accept each other despite their faults.
X-Factor is a new musical competition show created by Simon Cowell. The show’s judges – Cowell, Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Cheryl Cole, and Paula Abdul – travel the country seeking singing acts over the age of 12, whether individuals or groups. The audition process will occur before audiences of thousands in a number of cities. Those acts that survive the auditions graduate to a “boot camp” where they’ll be split into four groups, each of which will be mentored by one of the judges. Not only will the show be a competition between the acts but between the judges as they see whose acts will dominate the competition. Nicole Scherzinger and Steve Jones host the show.
What happens when you give your kids all of the things that you were denied as a child? I Hate My Teenage Daughter gives one answer. Annie (Jaime Pressly) and Nikki (Katie Fineran) were high school outcasts whose grew up and had daughters. Their parenting strategies were informed by the way they were brought up. Annie was raised in a strict religious household and had virtually no freedoms. As a result she allows her own daughter Sophie to do just about anything she wants. Nikki, who had been an overweight social pariah, has reinvented herself as a Southern Belle whose main goal in life is to give her daughter everything she never had. The intent was good but the result is anything but as their daughter have become the sort of girls who had once made Annie and Nikki’s life a hell. Annie’s daughter Sophie (Kristi Lauren) is embarrassed by her mother and takes every opportunity to ridicule her, even though she secretly knows that she need her mom. Nikki’s daughter Mackenzie works her mother’s insecurity to her own advantage. And the men in their lives aren’t much help. When their daughter’s mean-girl antics go too far Annie and Nikki realize that they need to take action and dole out some real punishments, and that maybe together they’ll be stronger in doing this than they are by themselves. Rounding out the cast are Eric Sheffer Stevens as Annie’s ex-husband Matt, Kevin Rahm as his brother Jack who Annie has a secret crush on, and Chad Coleman plays Nikki’s ex Gary.
The Finder which used an episode of Bones for a backdoor pilot is about Walter Sherman (Geoff Stults) a former military policeman who had knack for finding insurgents, deserters and IEDs. After being caught in an IED explosion and being in a coma for two months, Walter discovers that he now has the ability to find anything that has been lost. Operating out of a Key West bar Walter is helped by bartender Ike Latulippe (Saffron Burrows), a woman with many hidden skills who is grateful to Walter for helping her to escape from “a dangerous life.” Leo Knox (Michael Clarke Duncan), a lawyer who has reinvented himself after the death of his wife and children, serves as Walter’s legal advisor and tempers some of Walter’s paranoia.
Allen Gregory is an animated comedy about “one of the most pretentious seven year-olds of all time.” Allen Gregory de Longpre (Jonah Hill) doesn’t see a child when he looks in the mirror, he sees a talented sophisticated worldly young man. He has a strong bond with his father Richard (French Stewart) and virtually no respect for his father’s life partner Jeremy (Nat Faxon). Also part of the family is his adopted Cambodian sister Julie (Joy Osmanski) who Allen wishes would run away and never be found. Now, Allen faces the greatest challenge of his life: attending elementary school. Despite having allegedly composed operas, written novels and dated Chloe Sevigny he is out of his element and desperately wants to fit in. Other voices include Leslie Mann, Renee Taylor, Jake Johnson, Cristina Pucelli and Will Forte.
Napoleon Dynamite is an animated sequel to the hit movie of the same name featuring the voices of the moivie’s original cast including Jon Heder as Napoleon, Aaron Ruell as his brother Kip, Sandy Martin as Grandma, Efren Ramirez as Napoleon’s friend Pedro, Tina Marjorino as Deb, Jon Gries as Uncle Rico, and Diedrich Bader as Rex Kwon Do.
Going into the upfronts the biggest news out of FOX might have been the cancellation of America’s Most Wanted. The show is almost as old as the FOX network itself, appearing in the network’s second season. According to network entertainment president Kevin Reilly, the show hasn’t actually been profitable for a number of years and the network needs an outlet for “encore” shows. The series will return to its traditional timeslot for quarterly specials, and series creator John Walsh is reportedly shopping it around to various Newscorp owned networks.
Turning to the actual schedule, I hate to say it but there is little here that excites me. The big ticket item in this season is X-Factor, which the network has been pushing practically since the beginning of the 2010-11 season. The show is a remake of Simon Cowell’s British success of the same name. It should probably be mentioned that the British original was created by Cowell to replace Pop Idol (which was the genesis for American Idol) because Cowell didn’t own all of Pop Idol and wanted a series that he would get all the profit from. X-Factor may have some differences from American Idol but it really doesn’t seem that different to me. In a very real sense it is almost as though Fox is looking for a way to have American Idol for a full season and that in turn makes it seem like a cynical effort on the part of Fox. The sad thing is that I’m sure it’s going to work too and hurt some shows that I like.
None of the three dramatic series – Finder, Alcatraz, and Terra Nova – really does it for me. Finder is quite clearly the show that will work the best, simply because it is the show that is most like something that is already on. People like something that’s familiar. While I think that the concept of Alcatraz is the most intriguing one and one that I’m likely to watch, I don’t think that it’s an idea that the network will find easy to sell to the public. In some ways it “feels”a lot like Fringe, and while Fringe has a loyal – one could easily say a “rabid” following (which includes me) – it isn’t a large following, which ha sled to the show facing cancellation on an annual basis. In a similar vein, I think that Terra Nova will gain a strong sampling when it debuts but I’m not sure how many will stick with it. Me? Well I’m part of the “nitpickers” club, which is going to be talking about how the show sets up a temporal paradox in sending people back in time to potentially become their own ancestors; and besides, wouldn’t bringing the entire population of a dying Earth into the past lead to them making exactly the same mistakes that brought them to this situation, just a couple of million years early?
The two non-animated comedies are both female oriented. While I really like Zoe Deschanel, the concept behind New Girl feels a great deal like The Big Bang Theory without the geniuses and from a female perspective. I think I’d need to see at least one episode before I drew a conclusion on it, but right now I think it has a strike against it for being imitative without truly understanding why the original works. I Hate My Teenage Daughter is a lot less imitative – which is to say that I can’t think of a show that it’s like that’s on the air right now. Whether that’s enough for it to gain an audience is a big question. The only actress in this that I’m familiar with is Jaime Pressly which isn’t by itself a bad thing. I think the female perspective and the new take on a family comedy is intriguing, and the placement after X-Factor/American Idol gives it a huge potential audience. whether the show will ratain that audience is what we’re going to have to see.
I’ve never really gotten into the network’s animation fixation so I have virtually no interest in either Allen Gregory or Napoleon Dynamite.
Take as a whole this is a very lackluster effort from FOX. Even though I wasn’t particularly excited by the network’s 2010-11 season there was at least a show that I thought had a certain amount of quality to it. That show was The Chicago Code and I’m really disappointed that the network cancelled it. This time around there’s nothing of that sort of quality. I think there are a couple of shows that might work, but the one show that really does anything for me – Alcatraz – is one that I don’t think there’s an audience for.