Network Upfronts by John Keegan

2014 Network Upfronts: FOX

2014 Network Upfronts: FOX

FOX has managed to annoy genre fans yet again with its troubling treatment of Almost Human, even if it did right by Sleepy Hollow.  FOX is also the network that has always been more willing to experiment with year-round programming.  How does that all stack up for the fall season?

 

MONDAY

 

8-9PM “Gotham” (NEW)

 

I’m not sure that the excitement could be much bigger for this series.  There is a lot of buzz about this project, though one has to wonder if DC’s various projects across different networks are supposed to be in the same universe or completely separate, especially in light of Marvel’s interconnected properties.



 

9-10PM “Sleepy Hollow” (Returning)

 

Who expected this to take off so strongly?  Sleepy Hollow will be getting a few more episodes in the second season, but for the most part, the shorter-tighter season model remains intact.  Monday night remains a good one for genre fans at FOX.

 


TUESDAY

 

8-9PM “Utopia” (NEW)

 

What sounds like it ought to be a high-concept genre series is actually a reality TV show.



 

9-9:30PM “New Girl” (Returning)

 

The bloom is off the rose for a lot of New Girl fans, but it remains on the schedule, despite lower ratings.  But that’s hardly the biggest surprise of the night…

 

9:30-10PM “The Mindy Project” (Returning)

 

This was a puzzler for a lot of folks, because the ratings were just not good, and there is little to no critical buzz about the series.  Maybe FOX didn’t have a lot of confidence in their comedy pilots?

 



WEDNESDAY

 

8-9PM “Hell’s Kitchen” (Returning)

 

A reality TV staple, but not something that I have ever found interesting enough to follow regularly.

 

9-10PM “Red Band Society” (NEW)

 

I can’t be the only one who thought this might be about Nazi Germany, right?  Well, it’s not.  It’s a coming of age story from Stephen Spielberg’s television production group.  Considering how questionable the quality of that studio’s output has been over the years, I’m considering this a pass.

  

 

THURSDAY

 

8-9PM “Bones” (Returning)

 

And here I thought that show was essentially canceled.  I guess not!

 

9-10PM “Gracepoint” (NEW)

 

This is being branded as a 10-episode event series, but I wonder if it’s closer to the Sleepy Hollow model of shorter, more tightly written seasons.  This is the US version of Broadchurch, right down to the casting of David Tennant, which will bring plenty of folks to the table.  I’m sure many others will want to see if it’s the usual British-remake flop.

 


 



FRIDAY

 

8-9PM “Masterchef Junior” (Returning)

 

What?

 

9-10PM “Utopia” (NEW)

 

It’s unclear if this is going to be airing twice a week, or this is just slated for repeats of the Tuesday night episodes.  Whatever the case, it seems that FOX is putting a lot of push behind this reality series.

 

 

SUNDAY

 

7:30-8PM “Bob’s Burgers” (Returning)

 

Sunday night has been a solid animation block for FOX since the dawn of time, it seems, so it makes sense for them to continue.  I think there was some drama over whether or not this series would return to FOX, but it’s on the schedule, so there we are.  Though it is in the oft-preempted post-NFL slot.

 

8-8:30PM “The Simpsons” (Returning)

 

What is dead shall never die!

 

8:30-9PM “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Returning)

 

Now this is interesting.  Instead of a new animated show, FOX is taking a cult comedy that was struggling on Tuesdays and dropping it right in the middle of the traditional animation block.  Will this mean that the faithful who stay with FOX throughout the night will just stay with the network and give this show more eyeballs?  I suppose we’ll find out.

 

9-9:30PM “Family Guy” (Returning)

 

What is dead shall never die (redux)!

 

9:30-10PM “Mulaney” (NEW)

 

Whereas the strategy for Brooklyn Nine-Nine makes a lot of sense, this just seems ill-advised.  Why drop this at the end of the night, when it just gives lots of viewers a reason to tune out after the usual animated fare is done?  I wouldn’t be shocked if this was an early casualty of the new season.



 



MID-SEASON/EXTRAS

 

Backstrom” (Unscheduled Drama)

 

An offbeat crime procedural starring Rainn Wilson.  I’ll give them credit for trying something different.  And this is billed as a drama, so try to wrap your brain around that.



 

Empire” (Unscheduled Drama)

 

About a hip-hop music label “empire” headed by Terrence Howard and Taraji Henson (previously of Person of Interest), featuring songs by Timbaland.  Not to my taste, but this comes from Lee Daniels, who is probably a familiar name to many these days.


 

Hieroglyph” (Unscheduled Drama)

 

A high-concept series set in ancient Egypt, as brought to us by the producers of New Girl and Touch.  They say all the right things, but that production pedigree is troubling.



 

Bordertown” (Unscheduled Comedy)

 

A new animated series set at the US/Mexican border.  Seth MacFarlane is clearly trying to stray from controversy.

 

The Last Man on Earth” (Unscheduled Comedy)

 

This is literally a “comedy” about a guy who seems to be the last living person on Earth, roaming around in an RV.  Please your bets on if it even makes it onto the schedule.

 

Weird Loners” (Unscheduled Comedy)

 

Typical comedy about young attractive people with psychological issues who sleep around a lot.  Which is better than what the title suggests, I suppose.

 



WHAT WE DON’T SEE

 

Almost Human, though I’m not sure that should have been a shock to anyone.  What I find more intriguing is that Wayward Pines, an event series announced for the summer of 2014, is now listed as coming in 2015.  Also, there is nothing about a follow-up to 24: Live Another Day, which makes me wonder if they are planning to keep that a property they can bring back every few years, as Kiefer Sutherland is available and willing.  Glee’s final season is conspicuously absent.

 



THE BOTTOM LINE

 

For genre fans, the main night of interest is Mondays, which places it in direct competition with Syfy’s most solid scripted drama programming yet again.  That said, I’m sure some folks will be tuning in for Gracepoint, if only to see if that show can break the British-remake curse.

 

 


John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Network Upfronts by - 5/13/2014 5:29 PM431 views

Comments

Flaco_Jones
Flaco_Jones
5/14/2014 7:52 AM

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I know Fox said Glee's final season is going to come as a midseason replacement now. The issue is it currently has a 22 episode order and Fox wants to discuss bringing that down to 13. I have a feeling somebody is going to have to pay for that since there is sure to be contract language involved.

Fox has been struggling and they are even talking about reducing American Idol on the midseason schedule. There are a couple of interesting shows like Gotham and the other genre shows in the mix, but I have a feeling this is going to be a bad last place year for Fox in the ratings unless ABC can possibly do worse than they did this year.
criticalmyth
criticalmyth
5/14/2014 8:48 AM

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Agreed. And yes, American Idol was reduced in scope a bit, too. FOX is on the cusp of NBC-level collapse, now that the one-two punch of American Idol and X-Factor has been proven anything but.
Flaco_Jones
Flaco_Jones
5/14/2014 9:12 AM

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Reply
NBC should take caution as they could fall right back down if The Voice has a similar fate.
Flaco_Jones
Flaco_Jones
5/14/2014 9:19 AM

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I can't believe the Mindy Project was renewed. I mean, it was even pulled from the schedule and put on hiatus at one point. I also have stopped watching New Girl as they seemed to run out of ideas and adding new characters just made the cast too spread out.

The Brooklyn Nine-Nine move is intriguing. The ratings have to be better in that time slot, though the fact that it's surrounded by animation makes me wonder. And that show at the end, Mulaney, looks D.O.A. for sure even though I do really like the cast. Would have been much better around New Girl than where they stuck it.
criticalmyth
criticalmyth
5/14/2014 11:51 AM

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Reply
I see a lot of desperation moves on the comedy side of things, tbh.
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