Last year, I did a series of "Upfront Questions" posts during the pre-upfront week, and I used those questions plus the revealed schedules for "Upfront Answers" during upfront week. I liked that format, so I'm gonna try generally the same thing this year.
This network's upfront happens just one week from today!
Other Upfront Questions: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | The CW | General
For further reference, see the April Fox True Power Rankings.
8:00 - Terra Nova / House / Bones
9:00 - House / Alcatraz
Question: Is Bones capable of anchoring a competitive Monday?
The veteran procedural's late spring level has been somewhere in the low 2's. That's nothing special, but I don't think it can be taken for granted; it's very possible they could do worse with a new show on this very crowded night. So in these situations, it usually comes down to the pilots. The Bones ratings do not make a compelling case either way. If they have two stellar drama pilots, I'd put 'em together and keep Bones as a backup.
8:00 - Glee / Raising Hope
8:30 - Glee / I Hate My Teenage Daughter
9:00 - New Girl
9:30 - Raising Hope / Breaking In
Question: Can New Girl bounce back from its spring woes?
The comedy that starts huge and sorta peters out from there is a fairly rare breed, but it is possible; I would cite My Name is Earl as a relatively recent example. NBC got a few pretty respectable years out of Earl, but I have to feel like they probably hoped for more than four seasons. Similarly, Fox was hoping for a really long-term player based on New Girl's early returns. The jury is still out, but the magnitude of New Girl's spring struggle makes it hard to throw all the blame on typical springtime drops. It's also kinda unfortunate that Fox doesn't (at least so far) have a regularly-scheduled spot for New Girl reruns this summer. I think a part of that "second season bounce" that people talk about with sitcoms is all the summer reruns. Anyway, I guess the above isn't really an "upfront question" but we'll at least get some sense of how Fox is thinking. If they do something unexpected like keep Glee on Tuesday, for example, that would look like a big vote of no-confidence.
8:00 - The X Factor / American Idol
9:00 - The X Factor / American Idol / Mobbed
9:30 - The X Factor / I Hate My Teenage Daughter / American Idol / Mobbed
Question: Is it time to start considering a world after American Idol?
OK, so that question is a bit sensationalistic. The show will be back next year, and next season's drops would probably have to exceed even this season's huge ones to make 2014 even remotely a question mark. This wasn't the year Idol died, but it was the year that might get Idol to start working on its will. All those two-hour Wednesday editions of Idol were a nice short-term ratings grab that made the problem (from the network-wide perspective) look less severe. But is Fox really in a position to continue using the show's lead-in power so little? After all, this was also the year that Fox became suddenly incapable of programming a decent-rated drama. It's great that all these reality franchises can effectively fill three hours per week, but it isn't easy to seamlessly recover if you suddenly lose all three hours at once. It's like a miniature version of the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? / Jay Leno Show situation.
For most of its run, the performance night of Idol did serve as a lead-in for something else (House being the most obvious example), and I think they need to get back to that.
8:00 - The X Factor / American Idol
9:00 - Bones / The Finder / Touch
Question: What leads out of The X Factor and Idol results shows?
Yeah, not one of my deeper questions. A lot of people have penciled Glee in, but I'm guessing there's a great deal of audience crossover between that and Grey's Anatomy. The Finder didn't do much in this hour, but I still think this is one of the better slots for Fox to go with some kind of procedural, especially since CBS probably shifts to comedy next season.
8:00 - Kitchen Nightmares / The Finder
9:00 - Fringe
Question: What does Fox Friday look like after Fringe is over?
Kevin Reilly has admitted that Fringe Fridays was a losing proposition financially, but at least that pairing with Kitchen Nightmares saved them a scheduling headache on a really tough evening. That headache returns once Fringe is gone. Maybe I should just go with Occam's razor and assume it'll be Kitchen and Fringe again next fall, but I still think they'd be better off at least trying to set themselves up for midseason. (Like in 2011-12, the current Kitchen Nightmares order is not big enough to go wire-to-wire.) So I'd pair 13 episodes of some relatively new-ish scripted show with Fringe. I guess the leader for that role would still be Touch, even though its ratings continue to underwhelm. If that show works, give it a back nine and throw on Kitchen Nightmares at midseason and you're set. If not, you at least give the audience a little break from Gordon Ramsay and can pair Nightmares with something that potentially has a future.
7:00 - NFL Overrun / repeats
7:30 - The OT / The Cleveland Show
8:00 - The Simpsons
8:30 - Allen Gregory / Napoleon Dynamite / Bob's Burgers
9:00 - Family Guy
9:30 - American Dad!
Question: Where does the demise of The Flinstones leave Fox?
Unlike with Fox's drama situation, there's not really cause for alarm just yet. The Simpsons and Family Guy both took slightly above average drops this year, but there's no clear sign yet that they're ending, and they're still doing good work. Eventually, it'd be nice to come up with a new animated program that can anchor an hour. Bob's Burgers hasn't made that leap yet, but I should probably put it in green since it will clearly be airing in some capacity next season. (It'll air just nine of its 22-episode order this season.)