Monday, May 16, 2011

Upfront Answers, Fox

Last week, I did a series of pre-upfront posts called "Upfront Questions" in which I posed one question for each night of the schedule. My post-upfront coverage is called "Upfront Answers," in which I take a look at how they addressed my questions.

Other Upfront Answers: NBC

My Fox Upfront Questions

8:00-9:00 PM TERRA NOVA (new)
9:00-10:00 PM HOUSE

My Question: Can Fox finally find a way to round out the evening?

Yes, and that show is called... House. Putting Terra Nova in the 8:00 lead-off spot is perhaps secondarily a vote of no confidence in the fast-declining House, but primarily it is a pretty big vote of confidence in favor of production-troubled Terra Nova. It seems like it should have every possibility to break out in a timeslot that will consist of CBS' weaker comedy hour (most likely, though not 100%), two talent competitions and probably a soap on the CDub. Also, its first half will avoid Monday Night Football. At midseason, the current plan is House back to 8:00 and newbie Alcatraz to follow.

8:00-9:00 PM GLEE
9:00-9:30 PM NEW GIRL (wt) (new)
9:30-10:00 PM RAISING HOPE

My Question: Is Raising Hope the best possible use of the Glee lead-in?

Apparently not. As much of the buzz has been predicting for awhile now, Raising Hope gets bumped to 9:30 in favor of the Zooey Deschanel-led New Girl. Glad to see it, as I think Fox can do better than Raising Hope here.

8:00-9:30 PM THE X FACTOR Performance Show (new)
9:30-10:00 PM I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER (wt) (new)

My Question: How much real estate will X Factor take up?

The answer at least at the upfront is "90 minutes," as another new live-action sitcom makes the sked in the post-X Factor slot. But I'd still expect X Factor to stretch for the full two hours on multiple occasions. Interestingly, I Hate My Teenage Daughter is going to get a whirl on Tuesdays when Glee goes on midseason hiatus (with the fourth comedy to fill that night still TBD), though the midseason sked then has it returning to Wednesdays once Idol contracts back to 90 minutes.

8:00-9:00 PM THE X FACTOR Results Show (new)
9:00-10:00 PM BONES

My Question: How much real estate will X Factor take up? The Squeakquel

As everyone expected, 60 minutes. The more interesting question probably would've been what airs after X Factor. Looks like a rotation of the veteran Bones and its spinoff The Finder, as those shows manage to avoid Friday again. This is a pretty safe choice, but I didn't expect Fox to load up on new shows quite to the extent that some others did. It's easy to say they're squandering a lead-in by putting a veteran show here, but we really don't know what kind of lead-in X Factor will be. And the results show will inevitably be the weaker half of this production anyway.

9:00-10:00 PM FRINGE

My Question: Is it finally time for a Bones move to Friday?

Not yet! But Fox did at least "take my advice" (I'm sure they were listening really hard) and stick with a couple of returning players on the night. Fox holds serve with their midseason 2011 lineup of Kitchen Nightmares and Fringe. Is there going to be any more tinkering on this night at midseason? Not in the midseason schedule released today, but I wouldn't be surprised to see something else tried here during one of Fringe's hiatuses. However, Kitchen Nightmares repeats well enough that it ought to lock down the 8:00 hour wire-to-wire.

8:00-8:30 PM COPS
8:30-9:00 PM COPS
9:00-10:00 PM ENCORES / AMERICA’S MOST WANTED (specials)

I'm usually not gonna talk Saturday, but on the Fox schedule it contained perhaps the most surprising development of all; America's Most Wanted is downgraded from a regular series. Perhaps this was first teased in Fox's initial plan to encore The Chicago Code in the Saturday 9:00 hour this summer. These shows are dominant in their timeslots for Fox, but when I revisited my viewers/demos/ad rates correlations last fall, I noticed that they receive considerably less ad money than you'd expect for the demos they get. Kevin Reilly in the Fox conference call said, "We have not made money on the show for a while." So there ya go.

7:00-7:30 PM THE OT (NFL post-game)
8:30-9:00 PM ALLEN GREGORY (new)
9:00-9:30 PM FAMILY GUY
9:30-10:00 PM AMERICAN DAD

My Question: How to arrange the marginal players around the anchors?

This was an important question because of how much stronger the animation typically is in the fall than after football ends. While I mentioned Bob's Burgers as a show I hoped would make it to the fall, at least they put something new in the fall mix. The one they like for that role is Allen Gregory, while relative newbies Napoleon Dynamite (8:30) and Bob's Burgers (9:30) will be the ones held for midseason. It's clear Fox is going to have a greater inventory of animation this year than in most recent ones, but I didn't think things were so tight that they would shove The Cleveland Show to 7:30 even on NFL weeks (when that becomes a really, really good timeslot to air as opposed to a really, really bad one as it's usually been for American Dad! this midseason). I kinda expect them to only air Cleveland when they don't have the NFL and still plan on The OT running up to 8:00, since you never really know when the NFL game is ending and Fox may end up in the same kind of overrun mess CBS often experiences.


In terms of actually arranging the shows, there was not a whole lot of movement made on the Fox front, and there didn't really have to be. Most of these nights look pretty similar to how they've looked at some point in the very recent past. The only real "move" was Terra Nova at 8:00 rather than 9:00, which again is a nice vote of confidence for that one. Overall, this should be a pretty successful schedule on almost every night, and because of that I actually think the midseason schedule (which you can find elsewhere!) is more worth paying attention to than usual. Things may actually play out fairly closely to how they're supposed to.

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