Well it appears that the people that brought you Robot Chicken are about to serve up something called Star Wars: Detours.
The Emperor looks absolutely unhinged.
Well it appears that the people that brought you Robot Chicken are about to serve up something called Star Wars: Detours.
The Emperor looks absolutely unhinged.
When he looks in the mirror, ALLEN GREGORY DE LONGPRE (Jonah Hill, “Superbad,” “Get Him to the Greek”) doesn’t see a child. He sees a young man who is intelligent, sophisticated, worldly, artistic and romantic – characteristics he inherited from his doting father, RICHARD (French Stewart, “Private Practice,” “3rd Rock from the Sun”). The pair share an extraordinary father-son bond – a bond that is sometimes annoyingly interrupted by Richard’s life partner, JEREMY (Nat Faxon, THE CLEVELAND SHOW, “Reno 911!”), for whom Allen Gregory has minimal respect, if any at all. They live together in a stunning architectural loft, along with JULIE (Joy Osmanski, “Grey’s Anatomy”), Allen Gregory’s adopted Cambodian sister.
Although Allen Gregory has allegedly composed operas, written novels and dated Chloë Sevigny, he’s about to embark on his greatest challenge yet: leaving the safety of his father’s homeschooling and attending elementary school with children his own age. His journey will be a struggle, not only with the other kids at school, but with the faculty as well. Whether it’s the all-out rivalry with GINA WINTHROP (guest voice Leslie Mann, “Funny People”), his by-the-book second grade teacher; his unique relationship with JUDITH GOTTLIEB (guest voice Renée Taylor, “How I Met Your Mother”), his 68-year-old principal; or his desperate desire to be best friends with JOEL ZADAK (guest voice Jake Johnson, “Get Him to the Greek”), the school’s popular stud, Allen Gregory has his work cut out for him. With the help of his trusty friend and assistant, PATRICK VANDERWEEL (Cristina Pucelli, “Finley the Fire Engine”); and the support of SUPERINTENDENT STEWART ROSSMYRE (Will Forte, “Saturday Night Live”), who believes the De Longpres are a tremendous asset to the school, Allen Gregory won’t have to get his hands too dirty.
ALLEN GREGORY is about an outsider. And while he may put on a tough exterior, deep down, all Allen Gregory wants is to fit in. Well, that, and for Julie to run away and never be seen or heard from again. And Jeremy too. – FOX
25 out of 100
Back in the Spring when we were discussing the state of FOX as a network and their programming, we mentioned two new animated series that were set to debut this season that we predicted for a variety of reasons would be absolute failures just based on their show descriptions and how limited the episode orders from FOX were. The first was Napoleon Dynamite for obvious reasons (hasn’t been relevant for seven years, wasn’t that funny to begin with, etc.) and the second was Allen Gregory which just sounded like it was going to suck. We surmised that the reason that FOX committed to another two seasons of American Dad, renewed Bob’s Burgers as quickly as they did and are still on the hunt for more prime-time animated fare was that they had about as much faith in their two new Animation Domination offerings as we did.
Then we were inundated all Fall, particularly during the MLB postseason, with trailers for Allen Gregory and even we had to concede that it looked pretty funny. Well, we should have gone with our gut on this one. Allen Gregory is pretty awful and there really is no fixing it because it was created as an awful piece of crap from the start.
Allen Gregory is a show that’s trying too hard to be funny and it is failing miserably. The show is an unvarnished rip-off of other shows, particularly Seth MacFarlane shows. Could they be a little more obvious with making the lead character a bad copy of Stewie Griffin in a suit? It’s so blatant as to be offensive to anyone with an IQ above 70. It’s literally like Jonah Hill himself said, “Gee, Stewie Griffin would be a whole sh*tload funnier if I wrote his dialogue and did the voice.” We’ve got news for Jonah: he wouldn’t be and it’s beyond arrogant to think that having a string of mild successes as an actor playing buffoonish characters qualifies you to create and produce a prime-time animated series on the network that created the format.
In all honesty, to put it bluntly, Jonah Hill sucks all the way around and we’re sick of him even more so than The Movie Bros. is sick of his cohort in all of his dopey movies, Michael Cera, but for all the same reasons. He’s a one-trick pony and he plays the same damned character in every role he has. Unlike Cera, who just inevitably plays the awkward, clumsy, mumbling, albeit, likable teenager, Hill regularly plays the role of the annoying, foul-mouthed, arrogant and condescending prick and the role of Allen Gregory is no exception which is the biggest problem with his character and all of these characters: you just don’t like them.
We often discuss the need for a show to have relatable characters in order to find success with audiences and with Allen Gregory, the characters aren’t only completely unrelatable but they are absolutely unlikable, which is an issue that The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy and American Dad have never had. As whacky as the characters on those shows are, they are at least relatable and you root for them. Not so with Allen Gregory, in fact, you really want to see this kid and every other character on the show get tossed into a wood chipper.
The truth is that most animated series rip-off characters from another series, but a show can get away with that if they can manage to produce a unique show with well-developed characters and clever writing despite any similarities to other characters from another series. Fans of The Simpsons have complained for years that Family Guy ripped off The Simpsons as far as characters are concerned (and plotlines of some episodes… but we’re here to tell you that they are both guilty of that) and we don’t think that there’s any question that there’s some merit to that charge but the characters on both shows are so different and the format, style and writing of Family Guy is so unique that it makes any similarities between characters irrelevant. The same goes for the comparisons to Family Guy and American Dad. Same producers, same types of characters, similar jokes… completely different show in style and format.
Allen Gregory just can’t effectively separate itself from the obvious criticism of recycled characters because the show is a mess everywhere else especially with the awful storylines that don’t go anywhere and don’t make you laugh. We actually found ourselves actively rooting against Allen Gregory in both episodes we saw. That’s a bad sign when you are rooting against the protagonist. Finally, the fact is that the whole show reeks of Jonah Hill. Simply put, the show, like all of the characters that Jonah Hill plays, is a condescending, arrogant prick towards its audience and we hope audiences turn away from this like they should have with Bob’s Burgers.
Yesterday we reported that Cheryl Cole had been replaced by the Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger as a judge on FOX’s upcoming singing competition show, The X Factor. Everything in the piece itself was accurate however our headline, “The X Factor: Cheryl Cole OUT! Simon Cowell Says ‘Too British Sounding.’ Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger IN!,” was not. Simon Cowell had nothing to do with Cole’s departure and did not suggest that her accent was too thick for American audiences and in fact it’s been reported that he fought desperately to save her.
The Hollywood Reporter is citing sources who claim that the decision was a decision by the network itself and the accent issue was theirs alone. Prior reports implied that it was show producers that had the issue with her accent and were responsible for the decision to replace her. Since Simon Cowell is the main producer of this show, we assumed that these were his sentiments and that this was his decision. This obviously was a mistake.
We have also issued the retraction made the correction on the original piece.
We reported two weeks ago that Paula Abdul had signed on as a judge alongside her former American Idol co-judge, Simon Cowell on his highly anticipated singing competition show, The X Factor, along with Cheryl Cole and L.A. Reid. TMZ is reporting that Cheryl Cole, who was a judge on the U.K. version of the show, has been replaced by the Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger citing concerns over American audiences having difficulty understanding her because of her thick British accent and a lack of chemistry with Abdul. Producers now want Cole to return to the U.K. version of the show but sources say that she is so angry about how the situation was handled that she may sever ties with the franchise entirely. We doubt it. We wouldn’t even know who she was if not for this so she needs all of the exposure she can get.
We look at this two ways: first how bad could her accent possibly be? If American audiences can sit through Ewan MacGregor’s Scottish brogue in Trainspotting:
… then we can certainly handle this:
Now of course, the best part of the clip above is that if you listen closely, she pauses in the middle of that to squeak out a little fart. G’head… go back and play it again, we’ll wait.
See, we told you.
Now aside from the obvious issues of farting on the air and how that probably isn’t something that will be embraced by American audiences (except us), the ultimate irony here is that Simon Cowell is concerned that American audiences aren’t going to be able to understand My-Fair-Lady/the-rain-in-Spain-falls-mainly-on-the-plain up there but he doesn’t have any concerns about two or three nights per week of this in primetime:
Obviously, though, if the other issue was chemistry with Abdul, it was simply a no-brainer that Cole would be the expendable judge. Scherzinger was originally cast to co-host the show with Steve Jones but now with the move, he’ll be doing it alone. Don’t feel bad folks, we don’t know who he is either however, apparently he’s quite popular in the U.K. and in order to get this gig he had to initially promise not to nail his fellow co-stars and no, we aren’t kidding. Just for that alone he gets our endorsement. But seriously, how hard can it be? Seacrest has been doing it for a decade and he hosts a daily radio show and that dopey show on E!
EDITOR’S NOTE – RETRACTION: Our headline, “The X Factor: Cheryl Cole OUT! Simon Cowell Says ‘Too British Sounding.’ Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger IN!,” was not correct. Cowell had nothing to do with Cole’s departure and did not suggest that her accent was too thick for American audiences and in fact it’s been reported that he fought desperately to save her.
The Hollywood Reporter is citing sources who claim that the decision was a decision by the network itself and the accent issue was theirs alone. Prior reports implied that it was show producers that had the issue with her accent and were responsible for the decision to replace her. Cowell is the main producer of this show, we assumed that these were his sentiments and that this was his decision. This obviously was a mistake.
See the full retraction, here.
Via Press Release:
FLINTSTONES! MEET “THE FLINTSTONES” ON FOX
Modern Stone-Age Family Returns to Television in
New Animated Series from Seth MacFarlane,
20th Century Fox Television and Warner Bros. Television
Yabba dabba doo! FOX has picked up THE FLINTSTONES, a 21st century version of the classic animated comedy from executive producer Seth MacFarlane. In a cross-studio collaboration, THE FLINTSTONES will be produced jointly by 20th Century Fox Television and Warner Bros. Television. Warner Bros. is home to THE FLINTSTONES via its ownership of the Hanna-Barbera collection of animated titles. Dan Palladino (“Gilmore Girls”) and Kara Vallow (Family Guy) will also serve as executive producers. THE FLINTSTONES will begin production in fall 2011 and will be set in stone on the FOX schedule in 2013.
“The very first cartoon character I drew at age two was Fred Flintstone,” said MacFarlane. “So it’s appropriate that events have come full circle, allowing me to produce the newest incarnation of this great franchise. Plus, I think America is finally ready for an animated sitcom about a fat, stupid guy with a wife who’s too good for him.”
“The Flintstones are among the funniest and most beloved characters in television history, and we can’t wait to introduce them to a whole new generation on FOX,” said Kevin Reilly, President of Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company. “FOX has long been home to iconic families like the Simpsons and the Griffins, so I have no doubt that the Flintstones and the Rubbles are going to fit right in on our air.”
The (pre)historic return of THE FLINTSTONES will feature MacFarlane’s modern-day take on the lives of the Flintstones and the Rubbles, two hard-working middle-class families living with contemporary conveniences in the dinosaur-era town of Bedrock. The series centers on hard-headed patriarch FRED FLINTSTONE and best friend and sidekick BARNEY RUBBLE. Fred’s Stone-Age clan includes wife WILMA, daughter PEBBLES and pet dinosaur DINO, while Barney’s brood consists of wife BETTY and son BAMM-BAMM.
MacFarlane’s lineup of animated series continues to dominate Sunday nights. Everyone’s favorite families from Quahog, Langley Falls and Stoolbend will be back for more laughs as Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show were recently renewed for a 10th, seventh and fourth seasons, respectively.
THE FLINTSTONES will be co-produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Warner Bros. Television. MacFarlane and Palladino serve as executive producers of the series and co-writers on the pilot. Vallow will serve as executive producer on the series. Voice actors for the series will be announced. THE FLINTSTONES and all related characters and elements are trademarks of © Hanna-Barbera.
If you’re anything like us, you freely admit that the only reason you turned into American Idol for as long as you did was because of Simon Cowell and it wasn’t just for how brutal he was to the first round contestants. Despite Cowell’s dry and sometimes cruel wit, he was generally the only one on that panel who could relay any particular insight to the audience regarding the music industry itself and at the end of the day you had more faith in his opinion than anyone else on the judge’s panel. This is not take anything away from the other judges and guest judges that have graced AI over the years, but Cowell truly brought a sense of balance to the Force and if you’ve watched recently, even if you are still a fan, you can’t help but to admit that it’s become kind of a disjointed mess since his departure. Honestly, does anyone take Steven Tyler seriously at all?
Now if you’re still being honest, even if you hate to admit it, Paula Abdul certainly had her place on that panel and even when she left it was like we lost a part of the family. Between her obnoxious over-the-top praising, soft-peddling, sometimes inebriated commentary and the banter between her and Cowell, it made for good television. So when we heard a couple of months ago from the T-Shirt himself that he would love to get Paula back on his new talent show, The X-Factor, and that he was actively courting her, we were excited about the prospect of two-thirds of the old team getting back together albeit skeptical at the possibility because, let’s be honest, how often do these situations pan out? But then again… this is Simon “King Midas” Cowell we’re talking about, as well.
So without further adieu it gives us great pleasure to announce that Paula Abdul has indeed signed on as a judge on TXF along with Cowell, Cheryl Cole, and Antonio “L.A.” Reid. This is not only going to be great fun for fans but this is very good for FOX broadcasting as it will increase the advertising value of this show even more than we already had expected.
Why should we care about that? It’s simple: the more money TXF makes, the more money FOX has to justify keeping lower rated, critically acclaimed scripted programming and it also acts as great lead-ins for the scripted shows as well, putting more eyes on them. You like your shows like Lie To Me, Human Target, Breaking In and The Chicago Code? Then, even if you don’t have any interest in reality show talent competitions you need to be rooting for TXF to make as much money as possible.
Why We Love Paula:
FOX for some reason has decided to one-up ABC in the ridiculously long press release department so feel free to quit after the first paragraph below.
Via Press Release:
GRAMMY AND EMMY AWARD WINNER PAULA ABDUL
JOINS CHERYL COLE, ANTONIO “L.A.” REID AND SIMON COWELL
ON “The X Factor” JUDGES PANEL
Auditions Continue in Dallas on Thursday, May 26
Singers and Vocal Groups Age 12 and Over Eligible to Audition
For Chance to Win a $5 Million Syco/Sony Music Recording Contract
America’s sweetheart, world-renowned choreographer and pop icon Paula Abdul will join Cheryl Cole, Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Simon Cowell as a judge on The X Factor, the highly anticipated singing competition series debuting this fall on FOX. Abdul, who sat alongside Cowell for eight seasons as a judge on American Idol, has worldwide album sales exceeding 50 million records, two No. 1 albums, six No. 1 singles, a Grammy Award, seven MTV Awards, two Emmy Awards, two People’s Choice Awards and two Kids’ Choice Awards. Abdul will join Cole, Cowell, and Reid as they travel to The X Factor audition cities searching for the next global superstar or breakout music group.
“This show would never have been the same without Paula and I can’t believe I am saying this – I have missed her a lot, and I am thrilled she’s on the show,” said Simon Cowell.
“I am excited beyond words to be a part of The X Factor. I couldn’t be happier to bring my love for cultivating talent and performance to such a wildly anticipated show,” said Paula Abdul. “I’m looking forward to being back with the FOX/FremantleMedia family and know that it will be an extraordinary journey — we’re going to have a blast. I’m also delighted and grateful to be sitting next to Simon again…but you might want to check back with me in a week or two!”
“Paula is not only the lovely, nurturing person that America fell in love with, but she’s also one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever seen — which makes her a perfect fit to judge The X Factor,” said Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company. “Paula and Simon have undeniable chemistry, and together with L.A. Reid and Cheryl Cole, I think we’ve put together an incredibly entertaining judges’ panel.”
“I’m thrilled to be working with Paula again,” says executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz. “A consummate entertainer in her own right, she has an extraordinary talent and generosity for nurturing performers — and her chemistry with Simon Cowell is like no other. I especially look forward to seeing her signature sensibilities in action during our mentoring rounds!”
Auditions continue in Dallas, TX, on Thursday, May 26.
The X Factor is searching for undiscovered talent 12 years old or over – both solo artists and vocal groups – who are willing to brave the panel for a chance to win a $5 million recording contract with Syco/Sony Music. Interested solo artists and vocal groups should sign up now for audition information at www.fox.com/theXfactor or call toll-free 855-345-5678.
In a departure from other singing competition series, the first time contestants audition for The X Factor judges, they will do so in front of an audience of thousands – raising the stakes and increasing the pressure to impress not only the judges, but also a potential legion of fans. This will be the ultimate test to prove they have the vocal ability, charisma and stage presence that it takes to win an unprecedented $5 million recording contract with Syco/Sony Music.
As previously announced, Pepsi will serve as an official sponsor of The X Factor. The comprehensive sponsorship includes an extensive, multi-platform off-air marketing partnership; weekly in-show integrations and placements; and an immersive content experience online.
The X Factor is produced by Syco Television and FremantleMedia North America. Simon Cowell, Rob Wade and Siobhan Greene are executive producers for Syco Television. Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Richard Holloway and Andrew Llinares serve as executive producers for FremantleMedia North America.
About Paula Abdul
Paula Abdul is one of the most-recognized pop singers and choreographers in film, television, video, stage and live tours. Her celebrated work in choreography includes Emmy-winning contributions to “The Tracey Ullman Show” and Emmy-nominated choreography for the Academy Awards, as well as Abdul’s own performance on “The American Music Awards.” Other triumphs include her award-winning work with Janet Jackson, which garnered two MTV Video Awards; and working with such music legends as Aretha Franklin, George Michael, Luther Vandross, INXS, Heart and Prince. Abdul’s favorite memory is dancing alongside her idol, Gene Kelly, in a celebrated and acclaimed commercial campaign. Abdul’s choreography contributions in feature films include the Academy Award-winning “American Beauty,” working with Cuba Gooding Jr. on his Academy Award-winning performance in “Jerry Maguire” and transforming Val Kilmer into Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s “The Doors.” Abdul’s music career encompasses worldwide album sales exceeding 50 million records, two No. 1 albums, six No. 1 singles, a Grammy Award, seven MTV Awards, two Emmy Awards, two People’s Choice Awards and two Kids’ Choice Awards. She has also been honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and inducted into Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Hall of Fame. Abdul served as a judge alongside Simon Cowell for eight seasons on the hit series American Idol. An acclaimed jewelry designer, Abdul introduced her Paula Abdul Jewelry Collection on QVC to record-breaking sales. The collection consists of charms, pendants, earrings and bracelets in a mix of textures and metals, adorned with meaningful phrases. Abdul, who got her first break as a Los Angeles Laker Girl, continues to honor her roots by running dance and cheerleading camps, competitions and scholarship programs throughout the country.
About “The X Factor”
Since its debut in 2004, “The X Factor” has remained the U.K.’s #1 program for the last seven years, peaking with an audience of 21 million with 65% audience share for its 2010 finale. The format swiftly broke similar records around the world, where local versions have consistently rated #1 in 15 territories, with a worldwide audience now well over 100 million. In Denmark, it has ranked #1 for the last four years, peaking with an 80% share of the audience. In Colombia, it has consistently ranked #1 with a 75% share of the audience. Additionally, “The X Factor” consistently delivers a 50% to 65% share of the viewing audiences in Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, France and Italy – with the highest percentage of these shares in A15-34. In some markets, “The X Factor” has increased the channel average demographic by up to 250%. The series has received numerous honors worldwide, including three BAFTA awards, numerous NTA awards and the coveted Rose d’Or. In the U.K., an unprecedented 1.5 million iTunes downloads were made from “The X Factor” contestant performances in 2010. Globally, more than 100 million records have been sold by artists launched through the series, including over 90 #1 singles and albums and 150 Top Ten records.
About Sony Music Entertainment
Sony Music Entertainment is a global recorded music company with a current roster that includes a broad array of both local artists and international superstars. The company boasts a vast catalog that comprises some of the most important recordings in history. It is home to premier record labels representing music from every genre, including American Recordings, Arista Nashville, Arista Records, Battery Records, Beach Street Records, BNA Records, Columbia Nashville, Columbia Records, Day 1, Epic Records, Essential Records, Flicker Records, J Records, Jive Records, LaFace Records, Legacy Recordings, MASTERWORKS, Polo Grounds, RCA Records, RCA Nashville, RCA Red Seal, RCA Victor, Reunion Records, Roc Nation, Sony Classical, Sony Music Latin, Star Time International, Verity Gospel Music Group, and Volcano Entertainment. Sony Music Entertainment is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America.
About Syco/Simon Cowell
Syco, with offices in London and Los Angeles, is a global music, television and film production joint venture between Simon Cowell and Sony Music Entertainment. Syco Television owns and produces the BAFTA Award-winning “The X Factor,” which has topped the charts around the world. Syco Television is also the owner of the “Got Talent” television format. Versions of both “The X Factor” and “Got Talent” are co-produced by Syco, and are shown in more than 70 countries and have won multiple awards including national television awards and BAFTAs. The X Factor launches in America on FOX in Fall 2011 with Cowell as a judge. Syco is also the record label home for such diverse international recording stars as Leona Lewis and Il Divo. Cowell has worked with artists selling more than 200 million albums and delivering more than 180 No. 1 records. Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 launched the global singing career of Susan Boyle. Her debut Syco album sold over 8 million units in six weeks, making it the world’s biggest-selling album of 2009 and the fastest-selling album in history and a total of 20 million records to date. In 2009, Cowell was named No. 1 in Hollywood Reporter’s Top 50 Most Powerful in Reality TV and Entertainment Weekly’s Top Entertainer of the Year. In 2010 Simon Cowell was awarded Variety International’s Humanitarian Award for his extensive charitable work, The Rose d’Or Golden Jubilee Award and BAFTA’s Special Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the entertainment industry and development of new talent. He also appeared on Time Magazine’s list of Most Influential People in the World and was awarded the International Emmy Founders Award.
About FremantleMedia North America
FremantleMedia North America (FMNA) is the U.S. production division of global media giant FremantleMedia. Based in Burbank, California, FMNA produces entertaining and innovative programs for network, cable, syndicated and online platforms, including the Emmy-nominated musical/reality phenomenon American Idol (FOX), “America’s Got Talent” (NBC), “What Chilli Wants” (VH1), “Hole In The Wall” (Cartoon Network), “Jump City: Seattle” (G4), “Let’s Make A Deal” (CBS), “Family Feud” (syn), “The Price Is Right” (CBS) and the much-anticipated The X Factor in Fall 2011.
If you haven’t heard already, Fox has moved the J.J. Abrams fan-favorite Sci Fi thriller, Fringe, from the Thursday at 9:00 p.m. slot to the dreaded Friday at 9:00 p.m. slot. Now as much as we here at The ‘Tastic love Fringe (to the point where we consider it to be one of the top five shows on television), we weren’t necessarily surprised by this because as we’ve pointed out, FOX pisses their pants every time they see a ratings drop.
We also noted that while the other major networks are starting to take Friday nights seriously once again, FOX has decidedly NOT taken this approach, designating the night for reality shows and as a dumping ground for shows that haven’t done as well as they had hoped which is usually the fault of FOX to begin with (see: The Good Guys for the most recent example of this and our analysis here). So, we’ve come to accept that no show is ever safe on FOX and that without fail, if a show is designated for Friday night it will not be renewed at the end of the season or if it is, it will wither pretty quickly the following season. Now, with Fringe, there’s been a bit of a twist in this whole saga this week, which we’ll get to shortly, but first, it is necessary to address a fact of life that we’ve really been holding off on admitting for a long time but here it is:
FOX is an awful network and quite possibly the worst network ever… period. End of discussion. FOX is worse than The CW and it may possibly be worse than UPN or The WB ever was. The network is poorly run, they make terrible, amateurish decisions regarding their programming, they have absolutely no idea how to market quality programming in order to pique interest and they don’t give shows a chance to build an audience or even maintain a modest one. We will remind you that this is the same network that canceled Family Guy and the only reason it came back after a three-year hiatus is because The Cartoon Network aired the 49 episodes it had acquired the syndication rights to at 11:00 p.m. nightly and it gave THAT network the highest ratings in its history. So, to make this clear, a show FOX cancelled after only 49 episodes put another network on the map when they aired them… at 11:00 p.m.
The only reason FOX has had any success is because they have had a handful of successful shows that they have MILKED TO DEATH. Here’s the thing about that: a successful show should be able to give a network a lot of leeway with their programming and give a lot of other shows a chance to build an audience and become successful. What this means is that a show, for example, such as American Idol, can make enough money to basically support the growth of shows that are critically acclaimed however struggle in the ratings. This is not a new concept in either film or cinema.
Think of it like this: why do major studios invest money in relatively low-budget films with little-to-no anticipated payoff? Well, that’s because the film industry although motivated by profit like any other industry, still sees the value in the art they produce for the sake of the art itself and they believe that every now and then, the quality of the art for art’s sake may just turn into gold. A prime example of this is Paranormal Activity which Paramount/Dreamworks picked up the rights to for $300,000. Why would a major studio throw $300,000 away on a low-budget ($15,000), genre film that had little-to-no chance of making them any money? Well, first, because Stephen Spielberg REALLLLLLY liked it and second (and probably more importantly), because between G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Star Trek, Paramount grossed $1.5 billion domestically at the box office in 2009 on just those three films. So what it comes down to is that studios can afford to take more risks when they have money makers like that. Of course, with Paranormal Activity, that risk paid off nicely, grossing $194 million globally. Not a bad bet for a lousy $300,000, eh?
The same principle applies to television and even FOX has actually had success with this principle when they’ve applied it but they’ve only attempted it once and that was with 24 and that was nearly a decade ago. They stuck with that show early on despite the fact that the ratings had slipped in the first season and they even used American Idol as the lead-in and it worked.
FOX simply has no foresight or vision when it comes to the potential value of good TV, despite slipping ratings and quite frankly they are missing a much bigger point and that is that due to their 20 year history of reckless programming decisions, generally speaking, audiences don’t want to give FOX a chance any more when it comes to scripted programming. Why would they bother to ever consider getting invested in a scripted show on FOX when it’s more than likely not going to last for any significant amount of time? It’s a vicious cycle. FOX cancels shows (or dumps them into Friday) because the ratings slide, the ratings slide because the audiences don’t have any faith that FOX won’t cancel their show.
Now, back to the big twist in the news this week regarding the moving of Fringe to Friday…
Last week a whole bunch of blogs and entertainment news sites a lot more reputable than The ‘Tastic all had basically the same thing to say about the move. To put it simply: they all contend that the move marked the beginning of the end for the series which certainly isn’t a stretch, particularly with FOX.
Well, the FOX execs didn’t like that too much so they came up with this little trailer that addresses (and quotes) the cynical (albeit realistic) commentary from the writers at Collider, Ain’t It Cool News, IGN, TV Overmind, and Fringe Bloggers who for some bizarre reason just don’t seem to have any faith in FOX’s support of this show.
How cute is that, right? We’re convinced. Aren’t you?
Entertainment Weekly, who apparently has no problem being a corporate shill for FOX and perpetuating B.S., did a nice little puff-piece where they quote FOX’s senior VP of marketing and special projects, Dean Norris, explaining what prompted the trailer:
We started getting feedback from the viewers that basically said, ‘How could Fox do something so cool for a show they’re going to kill?’ We started reading these things and said, ‘Wait! We have to address this!’” The mission was to produce a piece of communication that dealt with the situation in a self-deprecating fashion, yet also assuaged fan fears. The message, spelled out in the promo: “You May Think Friday Is Dead… But We’re Gonna Reanimate It.”
Well, that sounds great because after all if there is one thing FOX is good at it’s animation… and RE-animation for that matter (see: Family Guy).
Now, standby in 3… 2… 1… for the big lie:
The promo is the beginning of a larger effort by Fox to shore up Fringe’s existing fanbase and hopefully grow the audience by targeting teen viewers who might be at home Friday night… “We are trying to rebrand Friday, and what we’re trying to do with this show specifically is make it kind of like forbidden fruit,” says Norris. “We want that teen demographic that might not be our audience right now to say, ‘That this is a show my parents might not want me to watch — but I’m going to watch it, anyway.’”
…And this is exactly why we don’t trust FOX and neither should you. First, and foremost let’s just examine this entire quote, shall we?
Mr. Norris, please explain to us how FOX plans to “shore up” its existing fanbase by alienating it, yet again. The problem that we pointed out earlier is that it’s not even necessarily the fact that it’s on a Friday night… the problem is that it’s on FOX on a Friday night and their history with television shows – ESPECIALLY Sci Fi shows! – on that night.
Our first hint of skepticism regarding this sudden change of heart was in that dopey little promo itself. It’s the quote from Roco at Fringe Blogger that they cite:
This is indeed the night… others were cast out to die.
Anytime we see a quote cited and there is ellipsis in the middle of the quote, we always research the actual source to find out exactly what the quoter wanted to leave out in order to advance their agenda. Here’s the actual quote by Roco:
This is indeed the night the likes of Dollhouse, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Firefly and others were cast out to die.
And there it is, folks; what FOX wants you to forget about. The fact is that not only has FOX been brutal to Sci Fi shows that they’ve abandoned to Friday night, they’ve also spun similar stories about support and similar clever promo campaigns that REALLY made people think they gave a crap. I refer you to the Dollhouse/Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles promos from spring of 2009.
Here’s our favorite… when Summer Glau and Eliza Dushku actually hosted the “Double Feature Friday” of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and the series premiere of Dollhouse.
Three months later Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was canceled and six months after that Dollhouse was canceled. Obviously, this is an example of FOX fully supporting their friday night Sci Fi shows.
To add more salt into that particular wound and prove the point about the total lack of vision at FOX, in May of 2009 those two shows had identical audience numbers, but FOX, in their infinite wisdom and foresight, decided to cancel Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles which had 11.4 million viewers during its first season before being dumped into Friday, was incredibly well-received by critics, had an established franchise brand-name and a built-in audience in favor of renewing the Joss Whedon mess called Dollhouse that had none of these attributes going for it. Once again, nice job, FOX.
We won’t even discuss what they did to one of the greatest and regrettably short-lived series of all time, Firefly (also a Joss Whedon show).
As for the last big lie in that quote… who are they kidding? Are we really supposed to believe that teenagers are going to stay in on a Friday night to watch a Sci Fi serial? Furthermore, the reality is that it’s nearly impossible to expand the base for a show like this.
We know exactly what they’re thinking or at least the premise that they are going for in trying to promote this big lie and that is that Fringe is like The X-Files (as it’s been compared to that hit series since it debuted) and that it can appeal to everyone on that level. Wrong. They aren’t the same show at all and the reason why it doesn’t work is that roughly 2/3 of the 202 episodes of The X-Files were standalone, “monster-of-the-week” type episodes that were literally disconnected from the main storyline arc of Mulder’s quest for the proof of alien abduction so he could find his sister.
Fringe’s main story arc is omnipresent in every single episode whether it’s integral to the story of that particular episode or not and as much as we love The X-Files, Fringe’s main arc is a helluva lot more complicated than The X-Files alien arc ever was. As a viewer, you cannot just jump into a show like Fringe halfway through its third season. It would be the equivalent of jumping into Lost halfway through the third season. You’d be lost and Norris must know this and if he doesn’t he’s completely incompetent.
So that’s what we’re left with. TPTB at FOX are either completely incompetent or completely dishonest and what’s ridiculous is how many other bloggers and various media outlets are falling for this sudden change of heart by FOX regarding their dedication to a Sci Fi show that they have parked on Friday night. Seriously, how dumb are they? This is “battered viewer syndrome” (…and I’m not going to explain that particular metaphor) if we’ve ever seen it. Do not trust FOX and their claims of unmitigated support for Fringe or any other show they move to Friday until they can be proven to be trustworthy. The first step in doing that would be for them to order the remaining episodes for this season and order an entire fourth season and promise to air all of the episodes. At this point, that would be the only way we would ever trust them and that’s not going to happen, so all we can do is hope for the best but plan for the worst which means expect Fringe to be canceled in May. Let’s just hope that they bring some closure to this great series.
And, by the way… we really hope we’re wrong but we doubt that we are.