Tuesday, May 6, 2014

2014 Upfront Questions, Fox


Part two of the upfront preview is the SCHEDULE-centric portion, examining the big-picture scheduling questions each network faces on each night in the final week before its upfront. I've always favored laying out the possibilities rather than creating an actual mock schedule; this seems to set up better to review the schedule next week without making it all about how my own prediction/recommendation did. But you can probably get some sense of which way I'm leaning.

Last week's Power Rankings were the SHOW-centric portion, in which I drilled more into the merits of individual shows: Fox True Power Rankings

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




MONDAY

2013-14 Schedule
8:00 - Bones | Almost Human | Bones
9:00 - Sleepy Hollow | The Following | 24: Live Another Day

Question: Which new drama makes it onto Fox's best night for drama counter-programming?

As for the last half-decade or more, this remains very ripe dramatic territory for the network, with CBS airing comedies and NBC/ABC in the unscripted realm. The top new drama should go here as always. I don't know that much about development, but it feels like that drama is the Batman prequel Gotham, which was series-ordered yesterday and previewed during 24 last night.



TUESDAY

2013-14 Schedule
8:00 - Dads | Glee
8:30 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine | Glee
9:00 - New Girl
9:30 - The Mindy Project | Brooklyn Nine-Nine | The Mindy Project

Question: Does Fox think new shows can succeed alongside the crumbling Tuesday comedies?

My original idea for this night back in the winter (Brooklyn / newbie / New Girl / newbie) looks pretty depressing now that those shows have gotten so low in the spring. I still think Fox might swear off newbies completely here. If they do put new shows on Tuesday, the arrangement should take the same form as last year: leading off in the 8:00 hour, with New Girl and Mindy likely back at 9/8c. It's far from ideal, but it didn't go that badly for Dads and Brooklyn this year, and local programming sadly may be the better lead-in at this point.



WEDNESDAY

2013-14 Schedule
8:00 - The X Factor| American Idol

Question: How many of the three hours vacated by The X Factor go right back to unscripted programming?

Fox's fall 2014 sked is one of those where there's one huge question mark above the rest. This is it. It'll heavily inform what they do not just on Wednesday but also on Thursday, Friday and maybe Tuesday as well. And it's a pretty huge unknown to those of us on the outside.

Can Fox really gamble on one big thing like the ambitious, super-expensive, problematic new reality series Utopia for that much real estate? The network seems headed for a hefty slate of new scripted series, many of which might be limited options that could keep these slots warm for American Idol's January arrival. So it doesn't feel like they're setting up for all three of those X hours to go right back into one show. At least one probably opens up. And with Fox axing Almost Human, a potential placeholder with a track record for one of those hours, it also seems less likely that the whole of these two nights will get turned over to scripted. I'm guessing there's an unscripted hour or maybe two across these two nights, but your guess is at least as good as mine.



THURSDAY

2013-14 Schedule
8:00 - The X Factor | American Idol | Hell's Kitchen
9:00 - Glee | Rake | American Idol
9:30 - Glee | Rake | Surviving Jack

Question: Is Thursday another opportunity for scripted counter-programming?

In case you couldn't tell, this is about as vague a question as I can possibly come up with, because I really have no idea what will happen here. But the main point is that this night looks like the best option to become Fox's Monday Part Two in terms of producing dramas, as CBS is also out of the crime drama business in this two-hour space. Try to get a new procedural going with Bones + already-series-ordered Backstrom?



FRIDAY

2013-14 Schedule
8:00 - MasterChef Junior | Bones | Rake | Kitchen Nightmares
9:00 - Sleepy Hollow (R) | Raising Hope | Enlisted | Kitchen Nightmares
9:30 - Sleepy Hollow (R) | Enlisted | Raising Hope | Kitchen Nightmares

Question: How much effort can a badly struggling network put forth on Friday?

Fox was in a better place one year ago than they are today, and they still ran a regularly-scheduled Sleepy Hollow repeat through the fall. So don't be a bit surprised to see that reprised with new drama repeats, or maybe the final season of Glee taking over that low-priority role. Fox could give the night the ultimate middle finger by pairing Glee with new drama repeats. This season's Rake / Enlisted / Raising Hope lineup should make it clear they're not totally opposed to going all the way off the map on Friday.

But unless Fox ends up with no unscripted alternatives to The X Factor and needs a ton of product for Wednesday/Thursday, it looks like Fox will probably have enough stuff to try making at least some inroads on Friday. It's pretty likely that one of last year's 8/7c occupants - Bones or MasterChef Junior - will return to this night. Since Bones would seem to pair better with a new drama, MasterChef Junior is the better choice.



SUNDAY

2013-14 Schedule
7:00 - NFL Overrun | Bob's Burgers
7:30 - The OT | American Dad!
8:00 - The Simpsons
8:30 - Bob's Burgers | Family Guy
9:00 - Family Guy | Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
9:30 - American Dad! | Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Question: How much of Fox's animation development gets picked up?

If you just look at the network's renewal/cancellation trend, it wouldn't be unreasonable to think Fox is phasing out of the animated game. The Cleveland Show ended after last season, and American Dad! heads to TBS after this season. But the network has five animated scripts, including one (naturally, the Seth MacFarlane show) picked up to series for 13 episodes. When digging back to past years, I noticed this is actually not much more than normal for Fox. But it still doesn't feel like a network looking to get out of the animated game. It'd be pretty disappointing if they couldn't find a decent option for the fall out of that crop, and it's not inconceivable they could have two and hold Bob's Burgers in reserve.

15 comments:

Spot said...

Sunday: The Simpsons / Bob's Burgers / Family Guy / Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Move B99 where it probably would do the least amount of damage. It's OKish young and male skewing, so it might actually work. If it flops there too, replace it with (new, animated comedy) Bordertown at some point, and burn off remaining episodes on Friday or Saturday.

Monday: Genre dramas on Monday again, of course. I guess Gotham is fall at 8 PM. Hieroglyph, if Gotham is not ready for fall. Other one in midseason. 9 PM is already known, Sleepy Hollow in fall, later The Following.

Tuesday: 2 new comedies followed by New Girl / Mindy
Fox doesn't think new shows can succeed alongside the crumbling Tuesday comedies... but they certainly hope so. And it's clear from amount of their pilots (+ 3 renewals) they want to remain in not-animated comedies business with 2 blocks, if not (shamefully ambitious) 3 blocks. New Girl / Mindy is natural pairing, and they can only lose by moving Mindy to earlier timeslot. So just leave those where they are, and pray newbies do better than Dads/B99 did.
If new comedies do bad, they can put again Glee on Tuesday in midseason, burn off its remaining episodes on their surrender night. If comedies do good, or do just solid, but Glee doesn't rebound from its awful spring numbers, they would have to put Glee on Friday (or even Saturday) for its last batch of episodes. Never mind it skews so young, there would simply be no space. Math is, if in midseason there still would be 2 comedy blocks + 3 hours of Idol as usual, then there is space for only 3 dramas at Mon-Thu, and presumably those would be: Hieroglyph, The Following, and Backstrom. Maybe even Bones wouldn't be on a weekday in 2015, let alone fast fading Glee.

Wednesday / Thursday
Fox replaced their unscripted TV Czar Mike Darnell with the new guy, Simon Andreae. He want have Czar authority for sure, but I don't expect him being phased out completely. Thus I see 2 hours of unscripted with 2 dramas = only 1 hour unscripted less.
Thus, Utopia 1 hour each day at 8 PM. If they don't want to put it directly against Survivor, then at 9 PM.
In September I'd put Bones and Glee in other 2 hours. It allows them to sample if spring ratings decline was permanent thing for those two. After baseball, I'd move Bones to Friday, and I'd send Glee on a long hiatus.
I'd try two limited order series there in November: Gracepoint; Wayward Pines. Each has 10 episodes, but are not mini-series = renewal is possible.
In midseason I'd have 3 hours of Idol + Backstrom on Wed/Thu. Or 2 hours of idol + 1 hour of Utopia, if Utopia really must be year-around. Idol is still their strongest show, so there's no immediate need to cut down its hours, unless Utopia breaks out (I doubt it).

Friday
If I was Reilly, I'd changed nothing there, especially with only 2 or 3 Mon-Thu timeslots remaining unchanged.
Junior MasterChef at 8 PM, with Sleepy Hollow [R] at 9 PM before baseball, and Bones after it. In winter and midseason, Bones + 1 hour of burn offs (don't worry, there will be more than enough candidates), or even 2 hours of burn offs, in case Bones is needed elsewhere.

Spot said...

Fox is the one network that you could also conceivably fantasy-schedule for midseason. But with two nights being completely in question, there's too many moving parts for me to put the effort in since I'm not getting paid the Kevin Reilly-sized bucks. Also as a note: I would launch Wednesdays and Thursdays early to get extra sampling while building in a planned break for the baseball playoffs.



Monday
8:00 - Bones
9:00 - Gotham
Bones is initially spared the move to Friday again since Almost Human was canceled. And Gotham is probably the best fit tonally with the procedural. Note, though, that I'm not against Gotham going to Wednesday or Thursday. With those nights wide open, Gotham would at least have a head-start on visibility based on brand awareness alone.

Tuesday
8:00 - Glee
9:00 - New Girl
9:30 - The Mindy Project
I wouldn't be surprised to see Fox move Glee at midseason to Fridays to replace MasterChef Junior. But at the outset, just quarantine this block of heavily female skewing shows to rebuild Wednesdays and Thursdays and adjust at midseason.

Wednesday
8:00 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine
8:30 - Mulaney
9:00 - Sleepy Hollow
Much like NBC, Fox is doing terrible in the live-action sitcom department. And even though I also put sitcoms here for NBC as well, Fox has to do something with 9-9 if they don't want to going down with the rest of Tuesdays. Trying to put 9-9 against football/The Big Bang Theory feels foolish, though. Mulaney is probably the best fit tonally with the sitcom. And since Sleepy Hollow looks like it's going to be a perennial "limited series", I'd put it here to make it easier to replace with Idol comes in at midseason.

Thursday
8:00 - Utopia
9:00 - Hieroglyph
Hieroglyph looks to be Fox's next cuckoo-bananas drama a la Sleepy Hollow. I wouldn't be surprised if they are paired together for that reason, especially since my gut says Hieroglyph also goes the "limited series" route; both of those on Wednesday make it easy to replace with Idol at January. But Fox should avoid getting burned by Utopia; if it's a 2 hour hot mess that can't justify staying on air then it's easier to fix one-hour here than replacing an entire night.

Friday
8:00 - Masterchef Junior
9:00 - Gotham reruns
Does anyone think that Fox misses Fringe? At least the drama had its vocal, passionate base that helped make Fox try to program Fridays with it and Kitchen Nightmares. Now it feels likely that another regularly-scheduled rerun returns. If Glee lands here, though, I'd love a Question about the spread between it and America's Top Next Model; the thought of two networks putting heavily-skewing female shows on Friday is so absurd it'd be laughable.

Sunday
7:00 - The OT
8:00 - The Simpsons
8:30 - New cartoon
9:00 - Family Guy
9:30 - New cartoon
Based on how shabby Fox treated Bob's Burgers once Cosmos came on the scene, I'm inclined to think Fox launches two cartoons in the Fall when it's more likely to be juiced with football lead-ins.


Midseason: American Idol, Backstrom, Bob's Burgers, The Following, Last Man on Earth
The biggest question to me is does Fox announce that next season is the final one for Idol? No way does the network not give Idol a season-long kiss goodbye, especially since it may help drive ratings up for a final go-around. The Following reclaims its Monday at 9:00 slot, Bob's Burgers either rejoins the main Sunday shows at the more preferable :30 slots or gets the dreaded pre-Simpsons half-hour, and Backstrom probably goes to Mondays as well.

Spot said...

I like that in your schedule, 8pm Weds is NBC sitcoms against NBC sitcom castoffs that Fox picked up (B99 and Mulaney). While also having The Mindy Project, another rejected NBC sitcom that Fox picked up, competing with NBC sitcoms at 9pm Tues. Its a situation that seems designed to show NBC sitcom commissioners whether they made the right choices or not.

It just shows in what bad shape Fox is that they have so much of their fall schedule dedicated to comedies even NBC wouldn't pick up.

Spot said...

Monday - Gotham on Fall, Hieroglyph on midseason, both at 8, 9 PM goes Sleepy Hollow/The Following again


Tuesday - Surrender night, Brooklyn Nine will probably be at 8 PM following a male-skewing newbie, while New Girl leads into a female-skewing one. Mindy gets benched with 22-episode order (time to carry it to syndication)


Wednesdays - One unscripted hour, Utopia takes it followed by a drama (Empire?)


Thursdays - I like Bones + Backstrom combination, but FOX is probably going to use some Gordon Ramsay show here, even with MasterChef Junior on fridays, now Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares air separated by one day, we can expect it too


Fridays - MasterChef Junior (Kitchen Nightmares on midseason) and burn Glee, even its white blonde women 18-34 with dogs ratings can't hide how the almighty scripted Idol has fallen, and FOX wants 24 episodes because they signed for 44 and will air just 20 this season, burn this as fast as you can, FOX.


Sundays - the problem for FOX is the long production cycle of animations (9 months), Bordertown is their only viable option now, as far as I know, and it may be not ready for fall, I like the idea of a live-action show, but plase, not a cancer like Dads. Nine-Nine could go there, Mindy does not get benched and we are on Silvio's scenario


FOX is the only network I have no idea what they could do, all the others we have a few hints

Spot said...

There's an awful lot of options here, to put it mildly. None of them good. I'll offer up this:

Mon: 8 Bones, 9 Sleepy Hollow. Save some promotion dollars. SH tags into The Following midseason again.
Tue: 8 Utopia, 9 New Girl, 9:30 Mindy. I think two hours a week go to Utopia, this spreads them out and gives the adored-by-the-network NG/Mindy pair a potentially powerful lead-in. It's also a potentially decent bet on The Voice falling apart.
Wed: 8 Nine-Nine, 8:30 Mulaney, 9 Gotham. Square pegs into round holes perhaps, but it's keeping Nine-Nine out of the way of football and puts a self-starter in the much tougher hour.
Thu: 8 Utopia, 9 Backstrom. If CBS is going to stick with comedies at 9 then a procedural is the way to go here.
Fri: 8 Glee, 9 Glee. Then pencil in a Ramsey block for midseason, and throw Kitchen Nightmares in to replace something that fails.

Sun: 7 OT, 8 Simpsons, 8:30 Bob's Burgers, 9 Family Guy, 9:30 Bordertown. Keep it simple for the fall. Nine-Nine in this mix, as Silvio suggests, is also viable.

Spot said...

Try number 2

Fox 2014-15 schedule

Sunday:

The Simpsons
Bob's Burgers
Family Guy
Brooklyn 99

Monday:

Bones
Gotham

Tuesday:

Glee
New Girl
Mindy Project

Wednesday:

Sleepy Hallow
Hieroglyph

Thursday:

Utopia (2 hours)

Friday:

Masterchef Jr.
Gotham repeats

Midseason:
Brooklyn 99 goes on hiatus during January-February to premiere Bordertown. Whichever looks stronger will get the 9:30 slot for the rest of the year, other gets 7:30. Gotham replaced by the Following midseason. Sleepy Hallow and Hiero replaced by Idol midseason. Idol and Hell's Kitchen replace Uptopia midseason. Kitchen Nightmares replaces Masterchef Junior midseason.

Spot said...

Justification of schedule.
Sunday:
Airing after Family Guy during Football season is the best way to cultivate any show with M18-34 strength, give Brooklyn 99 the boost in the fall
Monday:
For some reason, Bones is a good foundation to launch self starting dramas such as The Following and Sleepy Hallow during their first seasons. Its procedural elements should work well with Bones
Tuesday:
Neither Glee, New Girl, or the Mindy Project are strong enough to launch anything. Not worth adding anything new into the mix
Wednesday:
Sleepy Hallow and Hieroglyph seem like good counter programming to ABC's family comedies and CBS's crime dramas.
Thursday:
Utopia is an unknown property that should not launch anything, just see how it does
Friday:
Masterchef Jr. did well last year, use Gotham repeats in the same way as they did Sleepy Hallow last year. Can't move Glee here, it would produce Raising Hope-esque numbers and it is much too expensive to just let that happen.

Spot said...

I like that "none of them good". So true. I'm not wicked here, just realistic.

For that reason, and for so many changes (at least in fall Fox schedule), I think it actually won't be possible to grade their schedule after upfronts. And every network is different case this year. I think reactions after upfronts will be:

CBS:
There's almost no changes, so what's to grade here?

Fox:
There's so many changes, how to grade it until we see how it plays out?

NBC:
They can actually go only two ways.
1. surrender Thursday and focus on Tue/Wed - half of people (including me) will give it "A", other half "F".
2. attack Thursday, and not care much about Tue/Wed - half of people (including me) will give it "F", other half "A".

ABC
They're in unique situation with so many shows doing good, and even more of it doing awful, with just a handful of mediocre shows.
So they'll again be conservative in moves. Some people will be angry about too little aggressiveness. Some will shrug it off with: Had they moved successful show(s) to another night(s), they would just transfer the problem to another night, and with no avail, just extra money spent to promote those moves.

CW
Unlike some dubious series picks, Pedowitz was brilliant scheduler so far. So whatever he does this time around, I expect most people to react: That man knows his scheduling, so let's trust him.

Spot said...

TVMoJoe just published what he learned over lunch with Kevin Reilly
http://www.vulture.com/2014/05/kevin-reilly-fox-hang-out-things-you-learn.html

Utopia - Reilly said "Utopia could start out [airing] two times a week when it debuts". That's followed by Adalian's speculation: "debuts probably in late summer, though nothing’s been announced".

Sleepy Hollow 15 to 18 episodes. "Those will air all in a row. There will be no preemptions [except maybe] one over the World Series or a holiday."

Mindy's order is 15. (Initially, but obviously more only if new sitcoms bomb).

New Girl 22 episodes order.

And... not April's fool ... Dads renewal not sure thing, but likely. "Seth MacFarlane ... just top talent willing to do multi-camera, and I want to keep playing in that water. And that’s something we’ve got to do. "

Spot said...

Two more drama series for Fox - Empire, Red Band Society;
On top of 4 veterans renewed, and 5 new (Gotham / Backstrom / Hieroglyph / Gracepoint / Wayward Pines).
Wow, 11 dramas. CBS had 12 dramas last season, 10 renewed with 2 new, not counting summer shows.
Then I'm not surprised they cancelled Almost Human, I'm more surprised they didn't cancel The Following too.


I never heard of Red Band Society until few days ago it was mentioned in Deadline's pilot panic. So I was ignoring it in my mock schedule, I simply assumed it being "low priority and/or summer show, if picked at all." Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm not.

Empire, on the other hand, is a project mentioned for some time now. At first I thought it's off cycle, but apparently pilot is shot, and now it's picked to a series. Then I suppose it means:
Empire: midseason Thursday 9 PM.

Backstrom: fall Thursday 9 PM (not midseason Thu 9 PM as in my original mock schedule). Nice counterprogramming, exactly as Spot suggested.

Bones: goes to Friday 9 PM already in September (not in November as in my mock schedule), their utility player airing there until Fox runs out of failing new drama backups for failing fall drama premieres. If somehow all timeslots are fine, Bones would remain on Friday for entire season. I suppose no one except for Bones fans cares what happens with 10th season show, anyway.

Wayward Pines: goes riding the pine, backup.

Spot said...

Mindy not getting a de facto 44-episode order then. Similar to Suburgatory but much more justifiable because with that audience, I'm pretty sure a Netflix syndication deal beats a traditional one.

Renewing Dads over Almost Human is even worse than renewing The Following over it.

Spot said...

Shouldn't Wayward Pines have aired some time ago? I could have sworn it was due last summer.

Spot said...

Last I heard about it was in January this year when Reilly said:
Limited series "Wayward Pines" is currently in production on episode five of 10.

So, no, it wasn't ready for last summer.
Either you're remembering something with similar title.
Either it was indeed planned for earlier, then pushed to this cycle because they retooled something, or whatever.

Spot said...

With Fox mostly done with pickups, here's my final mock schedule

Mon: Gotham / Sleepy Hollow
Tue: Mulaney / Weird Loners / New Girl / The Mindy Project
Wed: Utopia / Glee
Thu: Utopia / Backstrom
Fri: Junior MasterChef / Bones
Sun: The Simpsons / Bob's Burgers / Family Guy / Brooklyn Nine-Nine

November
Wed: Utopia / [b]Gracepoint[/b]

Midseason
Mon: Hieroglyph / The Following
Tue: Mulaney / Weird Loners / New Girl / Last Man On Earth
Wed: American Idol
Thu: Utopia / Empire
Fri: Glee / Bones
Sun: The Simpsons / Bob's Burgers / Family Guy / Bordertown

bench
(D) Red Band Society, Wayward Pines
(C) Cabot College, Sober Companion

Spot said...

Monday:

8: Gotham
9: Sleepy Hollow

Spring:

8: Hieroglyph
9: The Following

Tuesday:

8: Glee
9: New Girl
9:30: Mindy Project

Just...stay here and don't bother anything else.

Wednesday

8: Utopia
9: Red Band Society

Spring:

8: American Idol
9: Backstrom

Thursday

8: Utopia/Idol
9: Mulaney
9:30: Weird Loners/Last Man on Earth


Friday

8: Junior Masterchef/Kitchen Nightmares
9: Reruns

Sunday

7: The OT/(reruns)
7:30: Bob's Burgers
8: The Simpsons
8:30: Bordertown
9: Family Guy
9:30: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

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