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Upfronts 2012: FOX Thinks It's Important to Have Friends ... and Fassbender's Penis

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 14, 2012 |

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 14, 2012 |

Even though Fox is generally sitting pretty (it’s been the top network in the under-50 demographic for almost a decade now), it struck out with most of its freshman shows (pretty much everything except “New Girl,” “The X Factor” and, inexplicably, “Touch”), and “American Idol’s” ratings are really on a solid decline now (though it’s still the number one rated show, so don’t shed no tears for Fox). Add to that the fact that Fox has had to say goodbye to “House,” a big hole to fill, with “Bones” likely not far behind it, and Fox begins to look like a network that may be getting ready to suffer from a bit of an identify crisis. But I’m a bit late on getting to Fox’s announcement of its new schedule, so let’s just get to it.

Going into the announcement, we knew all the renewals and cancellations with one exception.

Renewed. “American Dad,” “American Idol,” “Bob’s Burgers,” “Bones,” “The Cleveland Show,” “Family Guy,” “Fringe,” “Glee,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Kitchen Nightmares,” “New Girl,” “Raising Hope,” “The Simpsons” and “The X Factor.” No real surprises here except for “Fringe” which, despite having gone off the rails, is still entertaining-enough.

Cancelled. “Alcatraz,” “Allen Gregory,” “Breaking In,” “The Finder,” “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” and “Terra Nova.” Except for “Breaking In,” these were all freshman shows and, from what I saw of them, they all deserved the cancelled fates they received.

The one show whose fate we didn’t know about was another Fox freshman show, “Napoleon Dynamite.” Technically, its fate was undecided before the upfronts, but come on with the come on — we all knew that show was dead, and Fox confirmed as much during its upfront presentation.

Ok, so with that out of the way, let’s see what the new schedule has in store.

Mondays. On Mondays, “Bones” remains in the 8 p.m. slot and leads into the new “The Mob Doctor,” which takes over the slot vacated by “House.” “The Mob Doctor” is Fox’s only new drama for the fall, although later in the year (or earlier, if “The Mob Doctor” sucks), Fox will sub in another new drama, “The Following,” in that post-“Bones” time slot.

So, “The Mob Doctor.” It’s exactly what you think it is, a doctor who works for the mob. The doctor in question, Dr. Grave Devlin (Jordana Spiro), is a resident in Chicago who made a deal with the mob to pay off her brother’s gambling debt. And there you go. The only reason I’m even remotely interested in this is because it also stars the amazing Zeljko Ivanek, along with Zach Gilford and William Forsythe. The reason I’m really not interested in it is because:

“I’m not your typical doctor.” Great.

As for “The Following,” it certainly pairs up well with “Bones” on paper, being about a former FBI agent searching for a serial killer who has managed to create an underground network of over 300 serial killers. I know, I know, it’s sounds freaking ridiculous. But the FBI agent is played by Kevin Bacon, the main serial killer is played by the fantastic James Purefoy, it also stars Natalie Zea (who, despite all the hatred Winona gets on “Justified,” is pretty fantastic) and it comes from Kevin Williamson, who makes schlocky but totally watchable TV. I expect Fox will pimp the shit out of this show during the baseball playoffs, to the point that we’ll all utterly despise it before it ever takes to the airwaves. So you’ll see a lot of clips that play something like this trailer:

I’m not sure I buy Shawn Ashmore as an FBI agent, and while it doesn’t look great, it looks watchable enough, and it’s likely to be the breakout drama Fox has been looking for the last few years. Plus, James Purefoy. God damned do I love me some James Purefoy (I think I need to do some “Rome” re-watching this weekend).

(And the reason it’s being held until mid-season is because the network only has 15 episodes, as Bacon would only agree to do a show if the episode commitment was limited to 15 per season.)

Tuesdays. The big news for Tuesday, which many expected, is that Fox has kicked “Glee” out in order to create a full, two-hour comedy block. So “Raising Hope” leads things off at 8, followed by the new “Ben and Kate.” Then it’s “New Girl” at 9, leading into the other new Fox comedy, “The Mindy Project.”

“Ben and Kate” is another comedy with a female showrunner, which is a great trend (it comes from Dana Fox, whose movie record isn’t great, but she wrote an episode of the awesome “Childrens Hospital,” so she’s got that going for her). That positive trend is about the only good thing I can muster to say about the show — see for yourself:

That was the longest five minutes of your life, right? It’s a shame, really, because “Raising Hope” and “New Girl” are great, and “The Mindy Project” looks like it has some potential:

The show formerly-titled “It’s Messy” had half of you at Fassbender penis (calm down Joanna!) and most the rest of you at “I’m the man that’s going to take a person out of you!” It may crater, ultimately, but I like Mindy Kaling, and I like this show’s chances. I like them better if someone comes up with a better title than “The Mindy Project.”

The last of Fox’s new shows, “The Goodwin Games,” will come into one of these slots mid-season (likely after they cancel “Ben and Kate”). And “The Goodwin Games” could be the biggest winner of the bunch because it’s got Becki Newton and Scott Foley. Done and done.

I’m not sure the premise can play long-term, which may be why Fox is holding it for the moment, but I’m more than willing to give it a shot because, again, Scott Foley and Becki Newton!

Wednesdays. Wednesdays are easy. “The X Factor” runs for 2 hours in the fall, “American Idol” for the same two hours in the spring. The new judges on “The X Factor” this year, joining Simon Coweel and L.A. Reid, will be Britney Spears and Demi Lovato:


You almost literally could not pay me enough to watch this.

Thursdays. And again, in the fall it’ll be “The X Factor” results show, while it’ll be the “American Idol” results show in the spring. Following both, at 9 p.m., is the new time-slotted “Glee.” As for “Glee,” Fox announced that the fourth season will feature a show-within-a-show premise, that Kate Hudson will be joining the show for a six episode run, and that Sarah Jessica Parker returns to TV with an undisclosed appearance in the show as well. Let me repeat my Wednesday sentiment — you almost literally could not pay me enough to watch this. …But I will listen to offers. They better be in the high six figures though, or you can go fuck yourself.

Fridays. Fox has punted “Touch” to Fridays, likely because of the show sucks (really not sure why it got a second season unless it’s because Kiefer Sutherland’s contract required a second season or daily hand jobs, and Fox figured it was less messy to just give him more money). And then it’s the final season of “Fringe” at 9 p.m. Once “Fringe” has finished its final run, “Hell’s Kitchen” will take over.

Saturdays. Sports in the fall, “Cops” in the midseason.

Sundays. Cartoons, cartoons, cartoons. Well, football in the fall until 8 and then cartoons. In the spring, it’ll be random cartoon reruns at 7 and then “The Cleveland Show” at 7:30 (who watches that flipping show?). And all year, from 8-10 it’s “The Simpsons, “Bob’s Burgers,” “Family Guy” and “American Dad.” I know it’s customary to ask who watches “The Simpsons” anymore but I’ll fess up that I started watching it again this year and while it’s not hey-day great, it’s not half-bad. And “Bob’s Burgers” is just quality. The MacFarlane stuff I can do without, but he’s giving us a new series of “Cosmos” in 2013 with Neil deGrasse Tyson, so I have no hate for the excellently-first-named Seth MacFarlane.

Midseason Filler. I told you about “The Goodwin Games” and “The Following.” That’s all Fox has in the pipelines at the moment. It’s good to be the king.

Also, remember that Fox has baseball playoffs in the fall, so it’s scheduling in October will be a mess. Such is life.

Fassbender penis. Just because.

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

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