April 2, 2012

THE SKED’S 2012/13 FIRST CUT: FOX Needs & Possibilities


Welcome to April:  pilots are being produced and prepared for executive screenings, all but a very few of the 2011/12 series have aired, and we’re only 6 weeks away from the hoopla of the network Upfronts and their attendant announcement of next season’s Fall TV schedules.  Mitch Metcalf and I sat down with veteran TV executive Ted Frank to go over each broadcast network’s potential strategies for next season, and all this week, SHOWBUZZDAILY will be bringing you our consensus.
NOTE:  to the extent specific pilots are discussed or suggested in this series, those mentions are based only on the shows’ auspices and loglines, and not on any knowledge about their actual quality (as noted, most of them are still in production as this is being written).
FOX has had an odd season.  The Fall took off like a rocket with the successful launches of X FACTOR and NEW GIRL, but X Factor never became the phenomenon it was forecast to be, and New Girl has quieted down.  Heavily hyped dramas TERRA NOVA and ALCATRAZ failed, and most worrisome of all, for the first time in its storied history, AMERICAN IDOL has started to show cracks in its facade.  Overall, the network is doing fine–but also in a bit of trouble.  Here are some approaches it may take:
MONDAY:  The night has to be completely ripped apart, because HOUSE is making a muted exit, and neither Terra Nova nor Alcatraz has proven able to take over the night.  Starting tonight, FOX is trying the reliable (and already renewed) BONES on Mondays for the rest of the season–it won’t get a giant rating, but may bring some stability to the evening.  Look for that show or possibly TOUCH (if it doesn’t collapse once it begins facing new episodes on the other networks over the next few weeks) to anchor the 8PM slot in the Fall, coupled with a new drama.  One possibility for 9PM is the high-profile KEVIN WILLIAMSON PROJECT, a thriller about a cult of serial killers that stars Kevin Bacon in his first series regular gig along with Natalie Zea and James Purefoy.

TUESDAYGLEE‘s days as a pop culture powerhouse may be behind it.  Ratings are significantly down this season, and it’s been suggested that the serialized show would benefit from a more compact scheduling scheme that would allow it to air without so many preemptions and repeats.  If FOX goes this way, holding Glee for midseason, it would probably try a 4-sitcom Tuesday in the Fall–but only if the network feels like it has 2 strong newcomers to accompany New Girl and RAISING HOPE, because I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER and BREAKING IN were a disastrous fit when the network attempted the 4-sitcom Tuesday over the past few weeks.  The MINDY KALING PROJECT sounds very New Girl-compatible, and THE GOODWIN GAMES is another promising comedy, written by the creators of How I Met Your Mother and starring TV vets Becki Newton and Scott Foley.  
WEDNESDAY:  This night is easy.  X Factor didn’t give the other networks nightmares last Fall, but it was an extremely solid performer that’s already been renewed, and there’s no reason to think it won’t be back on the same night.
THURSDAY:  Similarly, X Factor is a safe bet to return to Thursdays.  It could be followed by whichever of Bones or Touch doesn’t air on Mondays, assuming that Touch holds up for the rest of this season.  
FRIDAY:  Until last week, it looked as though FRINGE might finally have taken the portal to its final dimension.  But the show leaped into a tie with the already-renewed Grimm, and if it can keep up that pace, there’s every reason to think the show could come back, at least for an abbreviated final season.  The economics of launching a new scripted drama on Fridays are increasingly tough, so expect KITCHEN NIGHTMARES to return at 8PM, and possibly more reality if Fringe falls.
SUNDAY:  It ain’t broke and won’t be fixed:  all the “Animation Domination” comedies should be back, very possibly including BOB’S BURGERS, and as it did this season, FOX will probably test 1 or 2 additional entries into the line-up during what would otherwise be repeat weeks for the regular shows.  (Although neither Napoleon Dynamite nor Allen Gregory worked out too well this year).  This is particularly needed because THE SIMPSONS is entering what is probably its final couple of seasons, leaving a huge hole in future Sundays.
Tomorrow:  ABC

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."