Monday, May 13, 2013

2013 Upfront Answers, Fox

Last week, I asked "Upfront Questions" to preview each network's fall 2013 schedule. With the schedule now official, here are the "Upfront Answers"!

Fox's upfront previews: True Power Rankings | Upfront Questions

Other Upfront Answers: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | CW


Fall 2013 Schedule
8:00-9:00 PM Bones (fall) / ALMOST HUMAN (new; late fall)
9:00-10:00 PM SLEEPY HOLLOW (new; fall) / The Following (midseason)

My Question: Will Fox try harder to transcend the "filler while we wait for The Following" perception?

While it certainly seems like Almost Human and Sleepy Hollow are more promotable deals than The Mob Doctor, they're not so much transcending it with quality as with quantity. The sheer volume of new shows ordered by Fox ensures that they won't have to put up with Mob Doc-type ratings in the fall; if Sleepy Hollow is a disaster, they can always transition to a Bones / Almost Human lineup. I'm sure that's on their radar.


Fall 2013 Schedule
8:00-8:30 PM DADS (new)
8:30-9:00 PM BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (new)
9:00-9:30 PM New Girl
9:30-10:00 PM The Mindy Project

My Question: What's the solution to keep New Girl afloat?

As most of the commenters suspected (though I wasn't so sure), it is indeed another comedy block, but this one is definitely a bit more "splashy" than the Raising Hope / Ben and Kate combo of a year ago; Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a big-time cast and seems to be well-regarded, and Dads is of course part of the Seth MacFarlane empire. I'm definitely not as underwhelmed by this combo as I was by last year's 8:00 hour. But it's still new shows, so it's still a big question mark.

In addition to potential better support in the 8:00 hour, there's also this: New Girl goes after the Super Bowl! (It's joined by an as yet unspecified new comedy.) It felt like Fox may have been setting up a season two launch of The Following or another American Idol reboot for the nod, but this will be yet another attempt to give the live-action comedy push a shot in the arm. I think I like the move, since The Following will probably be fine and it's more difficult getting into the comedy game.

Finally, The Mindy Project stays at 9:30 in a decision that I'm sure will cause some controversy. I didn't have much of an opinion on this one, because Mindy is pretty weak but also a very good fit and a big 18-34 draw. A Friday move clearly would've killed it, and I had real doubts Fox would renew this just to bury it there. Unless there was another perfect-on-paper fit in development, I didn't have a big problem with this.


Fall 2013 Schedule
8:00 - The X Factor / American Idol

My Question: To what extent will Fox acknowledge that its singing empire is crumbling?

To no real extent at all. I'm not a fan of Fox standing pat here for another year, but for now, both of these shows are still skedded for three hours on Wednesday/Thursday, while there's a lot of timeslot-sharing going on to squeeze all the new stuff into Monday, Tuesday and Friday. (And even then, there are still several shows unscheduled.) I'd say this might change at midseason, but given the subject matter of the new shows and the fact that the stronger Idol airs at midseason, it seems unlikely.


Fall 2013 Schedule
8:00-9:00 PM THE X FACTOR Results (fall) / AMERICAN IDOL Results (midseason)
9:00-10:00 PM Glee (fall) / RAKE (new; midseason)

My Question: Are the singing lead-ins still compelling launch-pads for new shows?

Not really, as Wednesday remains two hours and Glee stays in the post-X slot in the fall. If they had to "launch" something, it was smarter to wait for midseason and the bigger American Idol ratings. Glee and Rake are lighter dramas in what could be a very comedy-happy timeslot; expect the Glee deterioration to continue, and... well, we'll see about Rake, but I think it could be a decent counter-programming option here.


Fall 2013 Schedule
8:00-9:00 PM JUNIOR MASTERCHEF (wt) (new; fall)
9:00-10:00 PM SLEEPY HOLLOW encores (fall)

Late Fall:
8:00-9:00 PM BONES (late fall)
9:00-9:30 PM RAISING HOPE (late fall)
9:30-10:00 PM ENLISTED (new; late fall) 

My Question: Does Fox make any real scripted effort on a post-Fringe Friday?

They're promising to make a pretty substantial effort, but not until the "late fall." Anyone who's done this for any length of time knows that Fox has threatened to make the Bones Friday move on many occasions before taking it back. Once again, they've left themselves some time (till "late fall") to audible out of it. Is this one more likely to stick? That's pretty much all up to Sleepy Hollow. That said, unless the Tuesday 8:00 hour goes to sub-Mob Doc levels, I do think the Raising Hope and Enlisted lineup will stick on the night, as I've felt Raising Hope was a very good fit for Friday. We may very well end up with Kitchen Nightmares / Raising Hope / Enlisted, which wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.


Fall 2013 Schedule
7:00-7:30 PM NFL Game (fall)
7:30-8:00 PM THE OT (fall)
8:00-8:30 PM The Simpsons
8:30-9:00 PM Bob's Burgers
9:00-9:30 PM Family Guy
9:30-10:00 PM American Dad!

My Question: Will Fox return to an integration of live-action and animation on Sunday?

No, not yet anyway. There are still a couple unscheduled live-action comedies, so it can't be ruled out, but it seems more likely that most of the midseason shake-up on this night will revolve around the launch of animated newbie Murder Police. (Hey, I had to come up with some question for Sunday!)


My big comment in this space in 2012 was: "My real problem with Fox is that I think they should've ordered more new shows." The good news: they certainly don't have that problem this year! The problem manifested immediately in fall 2012 as Fox really had no clear alternative to the horrifying The Mob Doctor ratings, and a show like Ben and Kate actually made it to 2013. Even beyond all the timeslot-sharing, Fox still has another two dramas and two more comedies that haven't shown up yet, so their flexibility will be much greater. That's good.

From a scheduling standpoint, there was one big thing I wanted them to do: start trimming back on the singing show real estate. And they didn't do it. That's disappointing, and with the weaker property in the fall, it means there's very little chance they will audible into it in the winter/spring. There's real potential for The X Factor to basically die out next year, so Fox is setting themselves up to have some pretty massive schedule holes. However, it's worth noting that the more "old school Fox," male-leaning direction of the new shows doesn't really match up with the singing stuff. Basically they're riding out the "new Fox" brand on Wednesday and Thursday and trying to establish the other stuff elsewhere.


Spot said...

Doesn't Dads only have a six episode order? Or was that a six-episode order instead of a pilot, and a regular season was ordered when it was picked up to series?

So this whole schedule is...weird. I assume "late fall" means "after baseball," right? But this reminds me of a question I've wanted to ask: does anyone know if there have been any successful shows that were scheduled in the fall on their first season but didn't have a spot on the midseason schedule? If not, this doesn't bode well for Almost Human, although as Spot said, they can just drop Sleepy Hollow altogether and stay on with Almost Human.

Spot said...

Fox upped Dads to 13 episodes at some point during the time they were picking up all the other new shows.

Spot said...

Something else I realized: networks are determined to mix single cams and multicams within the hour and make it work this year, aren't they? First NBC, now Fox, and possibly CBS as well.

Spot said...

Overall, my first thought is that Fox mostly learned from this season and took a step in the right direction.

Best Move: Trying harder on Tuesdays with sitcoms. Dads and Brooklyn Nine-Nine should fall in line with the younger-skew that New Girl has.

Worst Move: Blocking off Wednesdays with 2-hour reality shows. X-Factor isn't a great launching pad, but I would have shrunk it down to just the 9:00 hour and skedded something like Almost Human.

Other thoughts: Given how in flux Fox's midseason almost always is, I take it with a silo of salt. But in my mind, Glee getting half of its season pushed into the summer of 2013-2014 is probably why the show got the two-season pickup. I think it's odd/encouraging that Fox is also willing to try new shows on Fridays. I would flip Enlisted and Hope to give the new show the stronger lead-in, but that's a minor quibble. And if Fox was ever going to follow through on moving Bones, now's the time to do it: it's a veteran show with a more locked-in audience, and Fox needs to replenish its drama coffers.

Spot said...

ABC will also have to do it since LMS is their only multicam and it has to pair up with something! Odd, indeed

Spot said...

Just like I wondered earlier. Short runs. Male focus. No more dragging shows to 80 episodes, ratings be damned.

Monday: I understand that Bones is consistent, but at what level? High enough to launch a show? I doubt it. As for Sleepy Hollow, meh. I just saw Zero Hour fail comprehensively with the same "untold history/puzzle solving" schtick.

Tuesday: No idea what's going on here. Two male comedies followed by two female comedies. Multi-cam followed by three single-cams. Just...ugh.

Wednesday: Huge missed opportunity. X Factor and Idol have one more year, two at most to serve as a lead-in and this network needs some new blood.

Thursday: I don't like Glee continuing to soak up the X and Idol love.

Friday: Hmm. I don't know if this will actually come to pass, as I doubt they'd throw Enlisted behind the useless Raising Hope.

Sunday: I'm also wary that this will stay the same. I know that this line-up historically has done well with young men, but it just doesn't have the same juice it used to. I think Enlisted and maybe Murder Police might go here.

Spot said...

That's because they all tilted so much one way or the other. CBS to multi-cams. Everyone else to single-cams. Just reorienting themselves leads to the mixing because the off-brand comedies they're ordering don't necessarily match. (Sean, Undateables)

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