May 16, 2016

UPDATED – NIELSENWAR UPFRONTS: FOX Fall–and Midseason–2016 Schedule (with NBC/FOX grid)


UPDATED with reactions to FOX trailers, which are available here:  

The FOX fall schedule is a puzzlement.

Fall SBD 2016 Broadcast Prime Schedule with NBC FOX

FOX seems to have done little to help itself with its fall 2016 line-up, leaving two of its weakest nights unimproved, and burying one of its highest-profile projects on low-rated Friday.  The network will be more aggressive at midseason, particularly in the hiatus periods while its veteran shows take a break (a period which for FOX ends with its telecast of the Super Bowl), but at best, this is a slow train toward progress. Here’s a night-by-night look:

MONDAY:  Gotham and Lucifer keep their slots for the fall, which probably means the same level of modest success.  Things may get more exciting at midseason, when the new 24: LEGACY will be partnered with APB, a cop show from Matt Nix, creator of Burn Notice.  As with most of FOX’s new shows, both of these are produced in-house.  (The LEGACY trailer interestingly avoids most of the stylistic trademarks of the original 24, like the on-screen ticking clock.  Between that and the absence of Kiefer Sutherland–other than his name as an executive producer–it looks more generic than it’s presumably  meant to be.  APB seems even less interesting, a barely high-tech spin on a routine cop procedural.)

TUESDAY:  One of the schedule’s head-scratching nights, since the combination of New Girl, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Scream Queens may mean a line-up that doesn’t crack 1.0, and certainly won’t do more than a tenth or two above that.  At midseason, the 8:30PM slot goes to the Kaitlin Olsen comedy THE MICK, about a woman who unexpectedly finds herself mothering a trio of kids, and the 9PM hour will first have the unscripted KICKING & SCREAMING, and then THE PITCH, a high-concept drama about major league baseball’s first female player, which hails from the busy Dan Fogelman (who also has fall NBC show This Is Us) and Rick Chernin.  The Pitch is, so to speak, a big swing.  Both of these shows are also produced by 20th TV.  (The trailer for THE MICK brands it as a much broader piece of humor than New Girl or Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which may make for a compatibility problem unless audiences embrace it as populist.  THE PITCH seems to be a compelling pilot, but it’s not clear where the story is supposed to go once our heroine has started her career.  Also, the fact that the series is co-produced with Major League Baseball suggests that there won’t be much here to grapple with real-life pro sports issues.)

WEDNESDAY:  FOX’s one clearly promising fall move is scheduling the TV version of LETHAL WEAPON as the lead-in to Empire.  The track record for hit movies becoming hit TV shows is certainly mixed (goodbye, Rush Hour), but with Damon Wayans in the Danny Glover role, this will get some attention, and may provide some serious upside compared to this season’s Rosewood.  During the hiatus break, the night will be filled with “event series” SHOTS FIRED, the story of a controversial racially-tinged police shooting from acclaimed writers Reggie Rock Blythewood and Gina Prince-Blythewood, which should make plenty of noise, and Lee Daniels’ STAR, not a spin-off of Empire but another music-oriented soap, with a cast that includes Queen Latifah, Benjamin Bratt and appearances by Lenny Kravitz.  The night should easily continue to be the high point of FOX’s week.  With the exception of Lethal Weapon, based on a Warner Bros movie, these new shows are produced in-house.  (Trailers for the new Wednesday shows confirm that this is where FOX is putting its most likely to succeed new series.  LETHAL WEAPON may feel a bit CBS, but the stars have chemistry and–at least in the pilot–there’s plenty of splashy action.  STAR appears to be a grittier version of EMPIRE, concentrating on up-and-coming performers rather than stars and executives.  SHOTS FIRED has a timely FX feel, a distinctive spin on its story and a strong cast.)

THURSDAY:  The network doesn’t even seem to be trying in the fall, with Rosewood serving as lead-in to the final 13-episode run of Bones, a line-up that makes me yawn as I’m typing it.  At midseason, the reboot of PRISON BREAK takes over the Bones slot, but as Prison Break was hardly a blockbuster hit by the time it left the air, it’s not clear how many people are clamoring to have it back.  It, too, is from 20th TV.  (The PRISON BREAK trailer offers less a reboot than a new season of the series that already existed, and it may make for a low-octane night with Rosewood.)

FRIDAY:  Sure, a new version of THE EXORCIST should cut into the declining Grimm on NBC at 9PM, but why put such a high-profile in-house project on a night where hardly anything scores more than a few tenths over 1.0?  There would seem to be more potential upside by pairing it with Gotham.  But Friday is where it is, with a solid but unexciting lead-in from Masterchef Jr.  The 9PM hour hosts what remains of Sleepy Hollow at midseason.  (There have been so many sequels and rip-offs of THE EXORCIST over the past 4 decades that the trailer for the new series feels like one that could have screened in any multiplex with the latest Blumhouse release.  It remains to be seen if the series format provides for more substance than is evident in these 2 1/2 minutes.)

SATURDAY:  College Football will occupy the night during the fall.

SUNDAY:  Bob’s Burgers is demoted to the 7:30PM slot, with The Simpsons, Family Guy and The Last Man On Earth keeping their berths.  At 8:30PM, fall will feature the animated/live-action hybrid SON OF ZORN, with the voice of Jason Sudeikis, and midseason brings time-travel sitcom MAKING HISTORY. Interestingly, both shows are not only from 20th TV, but are produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the Last Man On Earth/Lego Movie team.  FOX could use some new life in its Sunday line-up, so it will hope at least one of these does better than this season’s flops Bordertown and Cooper Barrett’s Guide To Life.  (At first glance, MAKING HISTORY seems the more promising of the Lord/Miller comedies, with a bright cast that includes Adam Pally, Leighton Meester and Yassir Lester, and a Bill & Ted approach to time travel.  SON OF ZORN not only appears to be a one-gag idea, but it’s roughly the same idea as FOX’s recently failed Golan the Insatiable.)



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."