Friday, May 16, 2008

FOX's Fall 2008

Here's what FOX is doing with their schedule this year. As usual with FOX the line-up changes somewhat at January. Shows that are debuting or moving in January will be marked with a (J), although by the time these changes are supposed to go into effect who knows what the FOX line-up will really look like.

Cancelled:Back To You, Canterbury's Law, K-Ville, Nashville, New Amsterdam, Next Great American Band, Return of Jezebel James, Unhitched

Renewed:The Moment of Truth, So You Think You Can Dance, The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, American Idol, America's Most Wanted, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Bones, Cops, Don't Forget the Lyrics!, Hell's Kitchen, House, King of the Hill, Kitchen Nightmares, MADtv, The Moment of Truth, Prison Break, Talkshow with Spike Feresten, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, 'Til Death, 24 (J)

New:Sit Down, Shut Up (J); The Cleveland Show (J); Dollhouse (J); Fringe; Do Not Disturb; Secret Millionaire (J)

Complete Schedule: (Changes in January as noted)

8:00-9:00 p.m. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, DOLLHOUSE (J)
9:00-10:00 p.m. Prison Break, 24 (J)

8:00-9:00 p.m. House, American Idol (J)
9:00-10:00 p.m. FRINGE

8:00-9:00 p.m. Bones, House (J)
9:00-9:30 p.m. 'Til Death, American Idol Results Show (J)
9:30-10:00 p.m. DO NOT DISTURB, "FOX Comedy TBD" (J)

8:00-9:00 p.m. The Moment of Truth, Hell's Kitchen (J)
9:00-10:00 p.m. Kitchen Nightmares, SECRET MILLIONAIRE (J)


8:00-9:00 p.m. Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, Bones (J)
9:00-10:00 p.m. Don't Forget the Lyrics, 'Til Death (9:00-9:30) and DO NOT DISTURB (9:30-10:00)

8:00-8:30 p.m. Cops
8:30-9:00 p.m. Cops
9:00-10:00 p.m. America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back
11:00-12:00 p.m. MadTV
12:00-1:00 a.m. Talkshow with Spike Feresten

7:00-8:00 p.m. The OT (NFL post-game), FOX Comedy Encores (J)
8:00-8:30 p.m. The Simpsons
8:30-9:00 p.m. King of the Hill, SIT DOWN, SHUT UP (J)
9:00-9:30 p.m. Family Guy
9:30-10:00 p.m. American Dad, THE CLEVELAND SHOW (J)

Fringe is a new series from J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci, and Alex Kurtzman. Two FBI agents (Mark Valley and Anna Torv) investigate the mystery of the deaths of every passenger on an international flight that landed at Boston's Logan Airport. During their investigation they encounter "the son of this generation's Einstein" played by Joshua Jackson (Dawson's Creek). Their investigation into the deaths on the aircraft leads them to a much bigger truth that is revealed over time.

Do Not Disturb is a comedy about the goings on at what is described as one of the "hottest and hippest hotels" in New York. There is an "Upstairs, Downstairs" element to it although the focus seems to be primarily on "Downstairs" with the majority of the cast playing members of the hotel staff. The cast includes Jerry O'Connell (Crossing Jordan, Carpoolers) as the egocentric general manager, and Niecy Nash (Reno 911!), Molly Stanton (Twins), Brando Eaton (Zoey 101), Jolene Purdy (Donnie Darko), and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Robert Wagner is a (presumably) recurring guest star as the hotel's owner.

Dollhouse is produced by Joss Whedon and features Eliza Dushku (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Tru Calling) as Echo, one of a group of "Actives" who are imprinted with new memories and identities to carry out missions for an underground organization. Once their mission is completed their memories are again erased until they're needed for a new mission. But what happens when one of the Actives starts to get her memories back? Also stars Enver Gjokaj, Fran Kranz (Welcome to the Captain), Olivia Williams, and Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica).

Secret Millionaire is a new reality series in which several millionaires go "undercover" in some of the most impoverished areas of the United States. Working side by side with members of the community and getting by on minimum wage – if they're lucky – they get to know the people of the community. When their time there ends they reveal their identities and award up to $100,000 of their own money to the person they think is most deserving of it.

Sit Down, Shut Up is an animated series but one with a twist in that it uses live action backdrops for the animated characters. The story centers around the faculty of a high school in a fishing town and features the voices of actors including Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live), Will Forte (Saturday Night Live), Jason Bateman (Arrested Development), Maria Bramford, Henry Winkler (Arrested Development, Happy Days), Cheri Oteri (Saturday Night Live), Nick Kroll (Cavemen), Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Tom Kenny.

The Cleveland Show is a spin-off of Family Guy and features Peter's drinking buddy Cleveland Brown as he leaves Quahog and moves to Stoolbend Virginia to fulfill a promise to his high school sweetheart.


Did you happen to notice the list of cancelled shows at the start of this post? That's right, every new show that FOX debuted last season with the exception of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was canned last season. To be fair, few of them did generate much buzz with the audience, but even in the strike season few of them were given that much of a chance. In fact the order for New Amsterdam was reduced and the show shifted from a Fall debut to a midseason debut within weeks of the original FOX schedule being announced. The only reason why the show for as long as it did was probably the strike. And even that didn't save Return of Jezebel James from being cancelled after three episodes. By comparison Canterbury's Law, which ran for six episodes was lucky only to be moved to Friday nights.

If anyone should know the hazards of working for FOX it should be Joss Whedon – Firefly was effectively destroyed by the way the network ran it out of order, and what can be said about Drive except that it was cancelled before it had a chance to get started, practically before it debuted in fact. Still he keeps coming back to FOX. One can hope that Dollhouse will get a chance to build an audience and who knows, with Kevin Reilly as head of Entertainment at FOX it just might. It certainly sounds intriguing, the question is will there be an audience for a concept like this.

The other pseudo-science fiction series that FOX has is Fringe. From the description of the show it sounds vaguely like a cross between The X-Files and the series Vanished from a couple of years ago. I make this comparison because of the ongoing nature of the mystery/conspiracy that is being investigated by the two FBI agents, and the involvement of "the son of this generation's Einstein." I'm somewhat dubious about its chances of success because of the lack of patience that audiences (and network executives) seem to have for both science fiction series and series with long continuity arcs.

Do Not Disturb somehow reminds me of the British series Hotel Babylon which isn't a bad thing if they can bring that sort of "naughty" vibe of a hotel where the rich and famous go to be catered to for their every desire that the British series has to an American audience. What worries me – well worry might not be the right word – is that the show won't take that direction but instead will go down the road of standard workplace comedy. The presence of Jerry O'Connell is not a good sign in that respect.

I don't think I can say much about the two animated series. Such shows on FOX seem to be bulletproof (well except for Futurama). Certainly the list of voice actors for Sit Down, Shut Up is quite impressive.

I don't know what to think about Secret Millionaire. It seems as though FOX has taken a look at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Oprah's Big Give and decided that philanthropy sells. I'm sure that the PTC will find this show "heartwarming" but somehow (having seen only the description of course) I find the whole thing vaguely smarmy and off-putting, almost a case of slumming.

A couple of other notes. I am pleased to see that Prison Break has been moved out of the first hour of primetime. No doubt the PTC will be pleased as well – well, as pleased as they can be by that show which isn't very, and I'm not sure that its replacement with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles will please them either. The truth is though that one of the few things that I agree with the PTC over is that Prison Break is not really suitable for the first hour. I also have no doubt that the PTC won't be pleased that Moment Of Truth is back. I've never seen the show but I personally find the concept distasteful. If you have the Studio 60 DVD set, you might want to check out Jordan McDeere's comments on a reality show called Search And Destroy that she refused to bid on. That's how I feel about Moment Of Truth. Finally it's good to see that someone at FOX has realised the charismatic qualities that Gordon Ramsay brings to TV. Not only has Kitchen Nightmares (the inferior clone of Ramsay's British series) been renewed, but the next season of Hell's Kitchen has been rescued from the summer viewing ghetto and established in January when people are actually watching TV.

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