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May 19, 2008 |

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 19, 2008 |

For those who haven’t been following along, last week was the new and improved mini version of the network upfronts, where they announce their new schedules. NBC jumped the gun, pimping out their warez last month. But everyone else went last week, and since I’ve already given y’all a rundown of the ABC, CBS and CW schedules, all that’s left is to bang out Fox’s schedule. Now Fox announced two schedules, one for the fall and one for the winter/spring. The fall schedule doesn’t give us much new, with only two new shows slated to premiere, with the rest of their new stuff dropping in January with the premieres of “Idol” and “24.” And it should go without saying that the winter schedule is waaaay subject to change, especially with this being Fox and all.

Sundays. After football games end (football, glorious football), the fall schedule is all animated with “The Simpsons,” “King of the Hill,” “Family Guy” and “American Dad.” And this schedule isn’t slated to change at all in the winter. However, in the spring, both “King of the Hill and “American Dad” will be swapped out for new comedy cartoons, “Class Dismissed” and “The Cleveland Show,” respectively.

“Class Dismissed” used to be called “Sit Down, Shut Up” but, whatever you call it, it’s going to have some folks in some parts excited. That’s because it comes from Mitch Hurwitz and contains the voice work of a trio of “Arrested Development” folks (Jason Batemen, Henry Winkler and Will Arnett) along with a few other recognizable names (Will Forte, Maria Bamford, Cheri Oteri and Kenan Thompson, among others). Of course, it also comes from some folks responsible for “Two and a Half Men,” so who knows what the final product humor of this show will look like. Unless the early word on this is supremely negative, I’ll sure tune in to find out. But we can all rest assured that whatever brand of humor “Class Dismissed” offers us, it’ll be better than what’s in store for us with “The Cleveland Show,” a spinoff of the “Family Guy” focusing on Cleveland and his son moving to a new town. I mean, “Family Guy” is barely funny anymore (shut up, fanboys, you know I’m right) and “American Dad” is a flaming turd, so there’s no way this show offers anything resembling comedy. At least, that’s my bet.

Mondays. In the fall, it’s “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” followed by “Prison Break.” This is a pretty good pairing, as both shows, while not good, are entirely passable popcorn entertainment, although “Prison Break” is getting dangerously close to being so ridiculous that it’s not even enjoyable as fluff anymore (especially now that we know that the head in the box apparently wasn’t a head in a box). As for “Sarah Connor,” these are words that I never would’ve thought you’d ever see me typing, but here you go: I’m actually quite happy with the fact that Brian Austin Green has been made a full-time cast member. He was a surprisingly good addition to the show, both as an actor and, more importantly, as a character element.

Springtime, meanwhile, gives us the much-anticipated (in some circles) “Dollhouse” followed by the also much-anticipated (in some circles) “24.” “Dollhouse,” of course, is Joss Whedon’s new show, staring Eliza Dushku as a member of an underground group of agents who have their memories continually wiped, with new memories implanted depending on what each agent’s upcoming job needs them to know. Things go askew for the group when Dusku’s memory starts coming back, leading to a “who am I and what have I done” type of thing. Now there’s three good things here for Whedon fans hoping that “Dollhouse” is a success and can avoid the “Firefly” treatment. One, word has it that some of the Fox execs actually dig the show. Two, it should benefit a little from being a lead-in for “24,” especially if Fox actually promotes it. And three, 8 p.m. shows get lower ratings than 9 p.m. shows, so the earlier timeslot lightens the burden, ever so slightly, that’ll be placed on the show.

Anyway, here’s a trailer (if it hasn’t been taken down yet), so you can get a small idea of what we’re in store for (and this was the second trailer that was released last week, not the first one, which I missed, but which received some less than kind words):

“24,” meanwhile, comes back for its seventh season after an atrocious Season Six. It’s been a long time since we last saw Jack, so it’ll be interesting to see how much viewers missed him and whether the writers can correct the ship. And while we still have quite a wait, we’ll get a sneak pick of things to come this November, with a two-hour movie that’s supposed to act as a bridge between 2007’s Season Six and the upcoming Season Seven. The flick will have Jack doing some stuff in Africa while our country is getting ready to inaugurate a new president. The best thing about this movie is probably that Robert Carlyle has been cast. He entertains me. Anyway, when Season Seven rolls around CTU will be gone, Jack will be on trial, and the focus will be on DC instead of LA.

Tuesdays. The fall schedule gives us “House” followed by J.J. Abrams’ new “Fringe.” Fox is, of course, notorious for shitting all over new shows. But at least it’s trying, initially, to do right by “Fringe” by giving it what’s probably the best slot on Fox’s fall schedule, with the popular grumpy doctor as a lead-in. And “Fringe” will remain at 9 p.m. in the winter, getting an even stronger lead-in with the “American Idol” monster airing at 8.

So the question, of course, is whether “Fringe” will take advantage of this slot. As I’ve talked about before, the show is about Feds investigating mysterious things, with elements of terror, sci-fi, Joshua Jackson and dramatic thrills thrown into the mix. I’ve been a bit skeptical of this show from the get-go, but let’s see if the trailer can’t change my mind:

You know, including a “from J.J. Abrams” tag is a good idea. “From the writers of The Transformers” however, not so much. And I have to say, this trailer doesn’t do much for me. And yet, I know myself, and I’m a sucker for these kind of shows, so I’ll be tuning in and, despite myself, will probably allow the show to have a longer leash than I should.

And for those wondering, Fox says the main reason that “Fringe” gets a fall premiere while “Dollhouse” gets the winter is that “Fringe” is further along. That show started putting its pilot together last summer, while “Dollhouse” only finished filming its pilot about a week or two ago (and right around the corner from my pad — I saw the little yellow filming signs for several days as I drove home from work, and don’t think I didn’t contemplate making a detour so I could go tell Ms. Dushku the dirty thoughts I have).

Wednesdays. In the fall, it’s “Bones,” “Til Death” and the only other new fall show, “Do Not Disturb.” I stopped watching “Bones” halfway through the first season, so I can’t offer any meaningful thoughts about it now. I can say, however, that I’m quite surprised to see “Til Death” back on Fox’s schedule since it struggles to live up to being a “comedy.” As for “Do Not Disturb,” which used to be called “The Inn,” it marks the wonderful return of Jerry O’Connell, whose “Carpoolers” suffered a quiet death earlier this year. This time around, O’Connell will be playing the manager of a fancy-schmancy NYC hotel. The kind of place where wacky things happen and comedy ensues. Aside from having a cast I mostly haven’t heard of, O’Connell aside, I don’t know much else about the show, and I can’t say the generic premise is promising. But the pilot has one thing going for it, which is that it was written by an “Arrested Development” writer and directed by Jason Batemen. Still not sure I’ll be able to make myself sit down to watch this, but any connection to “Arrested Development” certainly makes it tempting. And hell, maybe I’ll watch “Til Death” first because, after a half-hour of Brad Garrett and company, I’ll probably be so desperate for a laugh that “Do Not Disturb” will slay me.

In winter, “House” mosies on over to Wednesdays at 8, followed by the “American Idol” results show and a yet-to-be-decided comedy. The best news here is that “American Idol” has decided to reduce the bloat of its result show to a half-hour, so those of us still torturing ourselves with this show will only have to fast forward through 28 minutes of crap each week instead of 58 minutes of crap. (Although I think it’s safe to predict that we’ll still see at least a few hour-long results show because Fox just can’t help itself.)

Thursdays. Thursdays, this fall, Fox gives us Reality Crap Night, with a pairing of “The Moment of Truth” and “Kitchen Nightmares.” The winter schedule remains reality crap, with Gordon Ramsay moving to the 8 p.m. slot in “Hell’s Kitchen,” and the new “Secret Millionaire” taking the 9 p.m. slot. “Secret Millionaire” will show us what happens when very rich people descend into the depths of poverty, working for minimum wage, mixing it up with the homeless, etc. So it’s basically the Fox version of “30 Days,” with a dash of “Extreme Makeover” tossed into the mix (since the rich folk will give away some of their own money after they reveal themselves) and all coated in a nice exploitation icing.

Fridays. Fridays, this fall, Fox gives us Son of Reality Crap Night, with a pairing of “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” followed by “Don’t Forget the Lyrics.” And sadly, this will probably be a pretty good ratings night for Fox. In the winter, the Wednesday night fall lineup moves over to here, so it’ll be “Bones,” “Til Death” and “Do Not Disturb.”

Saturdays. In both the fall and the winter, it’s “Cops,” more “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted: America Fights Back.”

For those who were looking for “Back to You,” “Canterbury’s Law,” “K-Ville,” “Nashville,” “The Return of Jezebel James” and “New Amsterdam,” you can keep on looking, as Fox kissed them all a fond goodbye. No real surprises there.

Meanwhile, Fox has several other shows in its pocket to replace “Fringe” and “Dollhouse” whenever the network gives up on ‘em. There’s “Courtroom K” which is about, wait for it, a courtroom. Alfred Molina plays a “gruff, sarcastic and lovable” judge, and the show will focus on the prosecutors and defenders who have to deal with him on a daily basis. Then there’s “Hole in the Wall” which is, and I’m dead serious, awesome. Trust me. There’s also “Virtuality” (the spaceship show from Ron Moore) and “Boldly Going Nowhere (the spaceship show from the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” gang).

And lastly, the best news of all — it would appear that Fox passed on the “Spaced” Americanization project!

Seth Freilich is Pajiba’s television editor. He’ll tell you a little more about “Hole in the Wall” in Wednesday’s roundup. Gotta leave the readers wanting to come back for something, you know?

The Fanboy's Panties are Sopping Wet

FOX's 2008-2009 Schedule / The TV Whore
May 19, 2008

Industry | May 19, 2008 |

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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