Tuesday, May 15, 2012

FOX’s 2012-13 Season

FOX logoFox announced their new season Monday morning, and at first glance it appears to be primarily a case of moving some of the chairs around. Only three new series will debut in September – one dram
a and two comedies – but several series will find new time slots. And as always with FOX the mid-season will see even more planned changes. One other thing that is patently missing from FOX’s line-up is the sort of big budget, high profile series that typified the network’s new shows in previous years.

Cancelled: House, Terra Nova, Allen Gregory, I Hate My Teenaged Daughter, The Finder, Alcatraz, Napoleon Dynamite

Moved: Raising Hope (new time), Glee, Touch

Renewed: American Dad, Bob’s Burgers, Bones, The Cleveland Show, Family Guy, Fringe, New Girl, The Simpsons, The X-Factor,

New: Mob Doctor, Ben & Kate, The Mindy Project

Held Until Mid Season: American Idol, Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, The Following, The Goodwin Games

Complete Schedule (all times, Eastern, new shows in Capitals)

8:00-9:00 p.m.: Bones
9:00-10:00 p.m.: THE MOB DOCTOR (The Following at mid-season)

8:00-8:30 p.m.: Raising Hope (new time)
8:30-9:00 p.m.: BEN AND KATE
9:00-9:30 p.m.: The New Girl
9:30-10:00 p.m.: THE MINDY PROJECT

8:00-10:00 p.m.: The X-Factor (American Idol at mid-season) 

8:00-9:00 p.m.: The X-Factor (American Idol at mid-season)
9:00-10:00 p.m.: Glee (new day and time)

8:00-9:00 p.m.: Touch (new day and time)
9:00-10:00 p.m.: Fringe (Hell’s Kitchen at mid-season)

7:00-7:30 p.m.: The OT (Animation Domination reruns after Football season)
7:30-8:00 p.m.: The Cleveland Show
8:00-8:30 p.m.: The Simpsons
8:30-9:00 p.m.: Bob’s Burgers
9:00-9:30 p.m.: The Family Guy
9:30-10:00 p.m.: American Dad

The Mob Doctor tells the story of Dr. Grace Devlin (Jordana Spiro) and her double life. A top resident at Chicago’s Roosevelt Medical Center, she’s been hailed as one of the most promising young cardiothoracic surgeons in the country. However she owes a lifetime debt to the Chicago Mob to pay off her brother’s life threatening gambling debt. In her public life she is involved with compelling cases ranging from a toddler who needs heart surgery to the chaos of a crash on The El. In her other role she patches up injured mobsters, removes bullets from dead bodies to destroy incriminating evidence, and even dealing with an aging mobster’s erectile dysfunction. She has to keep her life with the mob secret from everyone in her life; her best friend Nurse “Ro” Angeli (Floriana Lima), her blue-blood boyfriend Dr. Brett Robinson (Zach Gilford), her boss Dr Stafford White (Zeljko Ivanek), her mother (Wendy Makkena) and even the brother Nate (Jesse Lee Soffer) whose debt led her into her deal with The Mob. The only person who really knows the extent of her activities on both sides of her life is the Mob boss to whom she owes her debt, Constantine Alexander (William Forsythe).

Ben And Kate are a brother and sister who couldn’t be more different. Kate Fox (Dakota Johnson) has followed the rules all of her life with one exception. That exception was getting pregnant out of wedlock which forced her to quit college just before graduation. After the birth of her daughter Maddie (Maggie Jones), Kate put her 20s on hold to be “responsible.” She works as a bar manager to maximize her time with Maddie. Her brother Ben is the opposite of Kate. He likes trouble more than she ever did, and has an infectious energy that draws people into his crazy schemes and bad ideas. When Ben arrives to crash on Kate’s couch for a few days he quickly realises that for the first time in their lives she needs his help, because Kate is surviving rather than living. Lucy Punch plays Kates Best friend BJ, a waitress at the bar that Kate manages, and Echo Kellum is Tommy, Ben’s “partner-in-crime” who not only treats Ben as his hero but also has a serious crush on Kate.

The Mindy Project stars former star of The Office Mindy Kaling as Dr. Mindy Kahiri, a talented OB/GYN with a chaotic personal life full of bad habits. She can quote every Meg Ryan romantic comedy – because the girl always gets the guy even in the bad movies – and is determined to become a well-rounded, perfect woman, able to win the perfect guy. This means trying to be more punctual, spend less money, lose weight and read more books. Her work life isn’t perfect either. She shares a practice with several other doctors, including Jeremy Reed (Ed Weeks) who is “the walking definition of bad news, and sometimes shares Mindy’s bed, despite her best efforts to resist. Then there’s Danny Castellano (Chris Messina), a hot headed guy’s guy who not only steals Mindy’s patients but also constantly criticises her for he supposed lack of professionalism to her struggling love life, even though he secretly admires her work. Rounding out the cast are Gwen Grady (Anna Camp) a married lawyer turned “Pilates mom” who has Mindy’s best friend since college, and the practice’s two receptionists, Betsy Putch (Zoe Jarman) and Shauna DiCanio (Dana DeLorenzo).

The Goodwin Games is a comedy about three siblings who are in line to inherit fortune from their recently deceased father. Benjamin Goodwin (Beau Bridges in a guest starring role) felt guilty about not being a better parent to his three children. In an effort to get his children to rediscover their true selves Benjamin arranges with his estate lawyer April (Melissa Tang) to set up a number of challenges for them to win his $20 million estate…an estate that none of his children knew existed. Henry Goodwin (Scott Foley) feels he is the most deserving to inherit. He’s a successful surgeon who feels he’s a role model for his less successful siblings and lets them know it at every opportunity. Chloe (Becki Newton), the middle child had been a math prodigy but turned her back on it to be a “popular girl.” Benjamin’s challenges for Chloe are intended to reconnect her with her old love of numbers. Finally there’s family screw-up Jimmy (Jake Lacy), a small-time ex-con and “dull-witted guitarist” with a big debt to a loan shark. Jake may be a screw-up but he’s got more heart than any of his siblings.

Imagine if the 300 or so serial killers that the FBI believes are currently active were somehow able to communicate with each other, work together, even form alliances. And imagine if one notorious serial killer not only set this up but develops an almost cult-like following among them. This is the premise behind The Following. When serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) escapes from death row and resumes his killing spree, former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is brought out of retirement to consult. Hardy knows everything possible about Carroll, but his pursuit of the killer nine years ago left him mentally and physically damaged. The FBI team currently on the case – tough as nails Jennifer Mason (Jeananne Goosen) and razor-sharp Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) – regard Hardy as a liability rather than an asset, but it is Hardy who uncovers the network of serial killers that Carroll has been creating. In the course of the case Hardy reconnects with Carroll’s ex-wife, Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea) who is the mother of Carroll’s ten year-old son Joey (Kyle Catlett). In the past Hardy and Claire were close and she is able to provide insight about Carroll’s moves.

A very conservative roster for FOX. The centrepiece of the line-up is the combination of The X-Factor and American Idol together with the Sunday night animation block. that gives them a stable four and a half or five hours for the network to build from. With only three new shows and a careful redistribution of existing shows Fox seems to have built up a fairly safe, although not particularly exciting schedule.

Looking at the shows that have moved the biggest switch has been the move of Glee from Tuesday to Thursday nights. This allows FOX to build up a two hour live action comedy night on Tuesday, and gives Glee the advantage of the X-Factor/American Idol powerhouse as a lead-in. The move of the Keifer Sutherland show Touch to Friday night as the lead-in to the final thirteen episodes of Fringe might be seen by some as sacrificing the show in the “Friday night death slot” as a way of getting rid of the show. Another weakness might be the use of Raising Hope to open the comedy block on Tuesday night. Ratings for Raising Hope with Glee as a lead-in have not been stellar and there is probably reason for concern that it might not be able to anchor the night.

Looking at the new shows, I believe the greatest strengths are the midseason drama The Following and the fall debuting The Mindy Project. My personal opinion is that audiences won’t readily buy into the premise of The Mob Doctor. As for Kate And Ben, it seems to derivative of aspects of shows like 2 Broke Girls and Don’t Trust The B---- In Apartment 23 (and those shows are themselves derivative of The Odd Couple) in which two disparate people are forced to live together by circumstances and find that they can learn from each other or are stronger working together than they are alone. By contrast The Mindy Project seems a bit fresher, blending elements of The New Girl with Bridget Jones’s Diary in that you have a romantic single woman trying to overcome her shortcomings. The Following appears to be FOX’s big project of the season (with apologies to The Mod Doctor which is a show I just don’t think will fly) and it presents a frightening, if somewhat far-fetched, vision. Done right I think it could do well; done wrong it could be a disaster, although FOX is no stranger to those.

FOX’s safe and conservative line-up looks like it should deliver for them both ratings success and stability. It’s not earth shaking, and quite frankly there’s no show in the line-up that thrills me the way something like The Chicago Code did a couple of years ago (or even Alcatraz this past season – yes, I was the guy who liked it). Most of all it is dependent on a couple of key players staying as successful as they have been over the past few years. A sound if somewhat boring schedule.

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