May 12, 2014

NIELSENWAR 2014-15 Trailer Review: FOX’s “Utopia”


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UTOPIA:  Tuesday 8PM and Friday 9PM on FOX

THE FACTS:  Based on a Dutch format and produced by unscripted specialist John de Mol, UTOPIA is a reality show that puts 15 people into an isolated area for an entire year and forces them to make up their own rules for their new “civilization.”  Viewers can track the proceedings not just in the 2 weekly network hours, but 24/7 online.  Once per month, the participants can vote one of their number out to be replaced.

WHAT IT’S SAYING:  It’s Survivor meets Big Brother.

WHAT IT’S REALLY SAYING:  The US version of Utopia doesn’t exist yet, so the trailer is just a talking-head interview with de Mol explaining the concept, intercut with bits from the Dutch show.

THE OUTLOOK:  Giving 2 hours of your primetime line-up to any one show is by its nature a risk, and it’s not clear just how revolutionary this concept is, despite the awe-struck voice-over of the trailer.  However, it can hardly do worse in the Tuesday 8PM slot than Glee has done all spring, and Friday 9PM is virtually a throwaway hour, so the risks here are low–except for New Girl and The Mindy Project, which could badly have used a lead-in boost after the awful drop in their ratings last season.  FOX will help Utopia get a jump on the new season by premiering it in late summer, hoping viewers will get addicted before the new programming on the other networks floods in, but that’s also a risk, because by late September, the show could already be a lost cause–with lots and lots of hours devoted to it through the fall


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."