Monday, May 14, 2018

2018 Upfront Answers: Fox

The schedule is coming, and with it the Upfront Answers!

Fox's upfront previews: Renewology | Upfront Questions

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


The ResidentThe Resident9-1-1911

Spot's Question: Which dramas make it to the drama-light Monday?

9-1-1 indeed made it to Monday. But the network that gave us three seasons of Empire at 9/8c has struck again, devoting the 9-1-1 lead-in to affiliates' local newscasts rather than another primetime program. It's a little less of a problem putting a returning series that has something of a track record here (as opposed to burying Rosewood and Shots Fired at 8/7c in Empire's prime years), but if you believe in the upside of The Resident, it's definitely putting a cap on that.


The GiftedThe GiftedLethal WeaponLethal Weapon

Spot's Question: Will Tuesday require a minor revamp, a major revamp or no revamp?

A Lethal Weapon sans Clayne Crawford does remain on the night, but Fox once again took the seemingly more intuitive lineup and flipped it, putting sophomore The Gifted at 8/7c. In this case, it's not so much that Lethal was a great lead-in opportunity squandered; that wasn't really even the case with Crawford, and who knows what it will look like in the Seann William Scott era. But it is an extra timeslot move. Maybe Lethal will do better away from the Roseanne / NCIS / Voice gauntlet, while the younger-skewing Gifted audience could be good counterprogramming. But this does not really look like a night poised for success. (To be fair, it'd have been tough to come up with one that was poised for success.)



Spot's Question: Is there any reason to break up Empire and Star?

Nope. And nothing specific about what will spell them in the winter, either.


Thursday Night FootballThursday Night FootballThursday Night FootballThursday Night Football

Spot's Question: Will we get a schedule for midseason Thursday?

Just a plan for The Orville to take over at midseason. Perhaps it will be joined by its season one teammate Gotham, which got an 11th-hour reprieve for a final season.


Last Man StandingTHE COOL KIDSHell's KitchenHell's Kitchen

Spot's Question: What takes over for The Exorcist on Friday?

Fox's big "splash" of the 2018 upfront was the resurrection of ABC comedy staple Last Man Standing, which will make a return to the timeslot it occupied for the last five years of its six-season ABC run. Fox execs said they would've done this a year earlier if not for how poorly all of their 2017 comedy development fit with it, and The Cool Kids seems reasonable enough.


The SimpsonsBob's BurgersFamily GuyREL

Spot's Question: Does Brooklyn Nine-Nine make a return to Sunday in the fall?

Nope. I laid out a lot of alternatives in the Questions post, including one in which there was a culling of live-action comedies and Bob's got a prime slot. But admittedly I thought that was the least likely of the possibilities, and I really didn't think that the newbie in that scenario would be buried at 9:30 (AKA the farthest possible distance from the NFL lead-in).


Beyond the day-specific questions in the Upfront Questions post, the real big-picture question with Fox was how much "New Fox" would seep into the network's decision making in this transitional year, before the Disney deal officially clears and leaves the network without any scripted series ownership via a sister studio. On the day that Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Mick and The Last Man on Earth all got wiped out, it looked possible that New Fox was coming sooner than anybody thought. But after Lethal Weapon and Gotham pulled through (on top of all four drama newbies), they ended up being not that harsh from a renew/cancel standpoint. If the still pending LA to Vegas pulls through, they'll have ended up with pretty much the exact number of total renewals that my Renewology model was expecting, and even without LAtV it wouldn't be too far out of the ordinary.

But once we see how all this stuff is arranged, the "New Fox" influence becomes clearer. The network threw a bone to the affiliates with 9-1-1 rather than boosting another primetime program. Lethal Weapon survives, but is left to build out of a shaky genre drama with little live audience. There's no new drama in the fall, and the new comedies are placed on Friday and in the worst Sunday timeslot. In other words, Fox seems content to throw almost everything outside of its crown jewels under the bus, and perhaps that will make them feel better about wiping most of it out next year. Tough to watch as a fan of broadcast TV, but it's pretty much in line with what they've been saying the plan is.

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