Before their pilot episodes will even air this Fall, two lead cast members from two of FOX’s new series are leaving their respective shows. Saffron Burrows, who played Ike on the Bones back-door pilot for the new series The Finder is exiting as producers are re-imagining the character. In related news, Damon Wayans, Jr.’s role on the Zooey Deschanel comedy, New Girl will also have to be recast as Wayans’ other show, ABC’s Happy Endings, was renewed for a second season.
FOX announced their primetime 2011 – 2012 schedule earlier ahead of their press release at the upfront advertising event and we have all the information posted right here. What we unfortunately didn’t get was nice little neat synopses of all the new shows that will be gracing our living rooms in 2011 – 2012. So, a little while later, FOX obliged and issued an actual press release announcing the schedule and issuing those nice little synopses we like so much here. They certainly make out life easier when we have to do the layouts for the reviews so we can tell you how awful they are.
We aren’t going to publish the whole Press Release because it’s ridiculously long and we already published the schedule. We’re just going to publish the synopses and critique them, TV-Tastic-Style but if you must read the whole thing, you can just go here.
Via Press Release:
FOX 2011-2012 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE
NEW SERIES SYNOPSES
The new unscripted series launching this fall is:
The X Factor
Simon Cowell returns to FOX in the award-winning international phenomenon The X Factor. This new competition series, hosted by Nicole Scherzinger and Steve Jones, gives viewers the opportunity to help choose the next global superstar or breakout music group. The X Factor judges will travel the nation 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 make their dreams come true. Auditions for The X Factor were held this spring in Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Newark, NJ; Seattle, WA; Chicago, IL; and Dallas, TX. In a departure from other singing competition series, the first time a contestant auditions for judges Simon Cowell, Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Cheryl Cole and Paula Abdul, he/she 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 it takes to become a global superstar or breakout music act and win a $5 million recording contract with Syco/Sony Music. Those contestants who survive the first auditions graduate to “boot camp” and will be divided into four categories. Each category will be mentored by one of the show’s judges. Not only is it a competition between the hopefuls to stake their claim for the coveted win, but it’s also a showdown among the judges as to whose acts will dominate the competition and make it to the finals. The judges may have their say in how the competition progresses, but it will be up to America to decide who ultimately has The X Factor.
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Syco Television, FremantleMedia North America
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Simon Cowell, Rob Wade, Siobhan Greene, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Richard Holloway, Andrew Llinares
JUDGES: Simon Cowell, Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Cheryl Cole, Paula Abdul
HOSTS: Nicole Scherzinger, Steve Jones
The ‘Tastic Says: Gee, We wonder if this show is going to be a hit. Let’s be honest, this show is going to print its own money and since it’s got both Simon Cowell and now, Paula Abdul, well, there’s finally a singing competition worth our time again on FOX and as we all go to he mall and have to spend our X-Factor dollars with Simon Cowell’s face on them, we will say thank you, sir.
The following new comedies will premiere this fall on FOX:
I Hate My Teenage Daughter (working title)
I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER (working title) is a new multi-camera comedy about two best friends who are single moms struggling to raise their difficult and over-privileged teenage daughters. ANNIE (Emmy Award winner Jaime Pressly, “My Name Is Earl”) and NIKKI (Tony Award winner Katie Finneran, “Wonderfalls”) are former high school outcasts whose pasts inform their current parenting styles. Annie, who was raised in an ultra-strict, über-religious household where she had little-to-no freedom, pretty much allows her daughter, SOPHIE (Kristi Lauren, “You”), to do whatever she wants. Nikki, once an unpopular, overweight social pariah, has reinvented herself as a pretty Southern belle whose top priority is providing her daughter, MACKENZIE (Aisha Dee, “Dead Gorgeous”), with the childhood she never had. Sophie and Mackenzie are also best friends, which leads to a lot of co-parenting for Annie and Nikki. They have given the girls everything they asked for and everything they never had: clothes, money and self-esteem. The unintended consequence is they have created two mean girls just like the ones who tortured them years ago. Sophie finds her mother embarrassing and mocks her at every opportunity, but she secretly needs her mom and knows that her behavior is not always appropriate. Mackenzie, on the other hand, is the more manipulative of the daughters – she knows how to work her mother’s insecurities to her benefit. Annie’s ex-husband, MATT (Eric Sheffer Stevens, “As The World Turns”), wants to be a good parent, but is too clueless to know what that even means. That leaves his brother, JACK (Kevin Rahm, “Desperate Housewives,” “Judging Amy”), an attractive, high-powered attorney, to serve as more of a father figure for Sophie. Jack’s meddling would annoy Annie more if she didn’t have such a crush on him. GARY (Chad Coleman, “The Wire”), Nikki’s ex, also tries to help raise his challenging daughter, but the couple’s complicated relationship often makes his involvement more difficult. As their daughters begin to experience their first high school dances and other life-changing teen events, Annie and Nikki are often reminded of their own tortured adolescent years. But when Sophie and Mackenzie’s mean-girl antics cross the line, the moms quickly realize that they must, for the first time, dole out some real punishment and fix what is broken. They have no idea how to do that, but they do know one thing: They can’t do it without each other.
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Warner Bros. Television, Bonanza Productions Inc.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Sherry Bilsing-Graham, Ellen Kreamer, Andy Ackerman
WRITERS: Sherry Bilsing-Graham, Ellen Kreamer
DIRECTOR: Andy Ackerman
CAST: Jaime Pressly as Annie Watson, Katie Finneran as Nikki Miller, Kristi Lauren as Sophie, Aisha Dee as Mackenzie, Eric Sheffer Stevens as Matt, Kevin Rahm as Jack, Chad Coleman as Gary.
The ‘Tastic Says: We hate comedies anyway and they are usually pretty horrible on FOX to begin with. Unlike Raising Hope, Traffic Light, and Breaking In, this show doesn’t seem like an exception. Sorry, but bratty teenage-girl bullies just don’t appeal to us nor do clichéd sitcoms. This show hasn’t aired a single episode and we already hate all of the characters. Also, is that the set from Becker?
New Girl (working title)
NEW GIRL (working title) is a new single-camera comedy from Liz Meriwether (“No Strings Attached”) that features a young ensemble cast and takes a fresh and outrageous look at modern male/female relationships. JESS DAY (Zooey Deschanel, “(500) Days of Summer”) is an offbeat and adorable girl in her late 20s who, after a bad breakup, moves in with three single guys. Goofy, positive, vulnerable and honest to a fault, Jess has faith in people, even when she shouldn’t. Although she’s dorky and awkward, she’s comfortable in her own skin. More prone to friendships with women, she’s not used to hanging with the boys – especially at home. Of the three male roommates, NICK (Jake Johnson, “No Strings Attached”) is the most grounded. He had big plans for life, but somewhere along the way, he stopped caring and became a bartender. Usually the smartest guy in the room, he has an uncanny knack for reading people and uses humor to deflect everyone and everything. SCHMIDT (Max Greenfield, “Ugly Betty”) is a hustling young professional who fancies himself a modern-day Casanova. Though his heart is usually in the right place, he’s always scheming ways to climb the social ladder and is driven by an immature and almost obsessive urge to be on “the scene.” Viewing Jess as a gateway into the elusive female mind, as well as a personal project, Schmidt encourages the guys to bring Jess into the apartment. The third roommate, COACH (Damon Wayans Jr., “The Underground”), is a former high school athlete who currently makes his living as a personal trainer. Set in his ways and with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude to dating, Coach is most comfortable when he’s in the gym. Though he’ll never admit it, Coach’s macho athletic exterior is actually a cover for his shyness around women, and he struggles to translate his personal confidence into conversation, preferring to speak in sports metaphors – or not at all. Rounding out this group is Jess’ childhood best friend, CECE (Hannah Simone, “Beautiful People”), a deadpan, somewhat cynical model who blossomed after outgrowing her promiscuous adolescent years. She has the street smarts Jess lacks and spends a lot of time doling out no-nonsense relationship advice that only a professional model could give. She and Jess balance each other well and accept each other despite their faults, making Cece the perfect complement to Jess. As their relationships progress, the five friends come to realize they need each other more than they ever thought they would and end up forming a charmingly dysfunctional family.
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: 20th Century Fox Television, Chernin Entertainment
CREATOR/WRITER: Liz Meriwether
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Liz Meriwether, Jake Kasdan, Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope, Dave Finkel, Brett Baer
DIRECTOR: Jake Kasdan
CAST: Zooey Deschanel as Jess, Max Greenfield as Schmidt, Jake Johnson as Nick, Hannah Simone as Cece, Damon Wayans Jr. as Coach
The ‘Tastic Says: At the risk of repeating ourselves, we hate comedies anyway and they are usually pretty horrible on FOX to begin with. This show actually doesn’t look absolutely horrible (actually it looks kind of sweet and endearing), but it’s just not our cup of tea. But then, again, we were dead-wrong on Raising Hope so we’ll give it a shot despite that it’s got that My Boys vibe to it.
The new animated comedy joining the FOX schedule this fall is:
ALLEN GREGORY is a new animated comedy series that tells the story of one of the most pretentious 7-year-olds of our time. 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,” “3rdRock 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.
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: 20th Century Fox Television, Chernin Entertainment
CREATORS: Jonah Hill, Andrew Mogel, Jarrad Paul
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Jonah Hill, Andrew Mogel, Jarrad Paul, Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope, David A. Goodman
VOICE CAST: Jonah Hill as Allen Gregory De Longpre, Nat Faxon as Jeremy, French Stewart as Richard, Joy Osmanski as Julie, Cristina Pucelli as Patrick, Will Forte as Superintendent Rossmyre
GUEST VOICE CAST: Leslie Mann as Ms. Winthrop, Jake Johnson as Joel, Renée Taylor as Principal Gottlieb
The ‘Tastic Says: There’s a reason FOX only ordered seven episodes of this. It looks absolutely horrific but the one promising thing that we can say is that at least it’s animated and we won’t have to look at Jonah Hill. Seriously, did someone at FOX just say, “Hey, look… a Stewie Griffin knock-off! That will make a good show for the idiotic masses on Sunday night! Hell, they’re still watching Bob’s Burgers and The Cleveland Show aren’t they?”
The following new drama will debut this Fall on FOX:
From executive producers Steven Spielberg (“Saving Private Ryan,” “Jurassic Park”), Peter Chernin, René Echevarria (“Castle,” “The 4400”) and Brannon Braga (“24”) comes an epic family adventure 85 million years in the making. TERRA NOVA follows an ordinary family on an incredible journey back in time to prehistoric Earth as a small part of a daring experiment to save the human race. In the year 2149, the world is dying. The planet is overdeveloped and overcrowded, with the majority of plant and animal life extinct. The future of mankind is in jeopardy, and its only hope for survival is in the distant past. When scientists at the FERMI Particle Accelerator unexpectedly discovered a fracture in time that made it possible to construct a portal into primeval history, the bold notion was born to resettle humanity in the past – a second chance to rebuild civilization and get it right this time. The series centers on the Shannon family as they join the Tenth Pilgrimage of settlers to Terra Nova, the first colony established in this beautiful yet foreboding land. JIM SHANNON (Jason O’Mara, “Life on Mars”), a devoted father with a checkered past, guides his family through this new world of limitless beauty, mystery and terror. Jim’s wife, ELISABETH (Shelley Conn, “Mistresses”), is a trauma surgeon and the newest addition to Terra Nova’s medical team. JOSH (Landon Liboiron, “Degrassi: The Next Generation”) is their 17-year-old son who is angry to leave life as he knows it behind; upon arriving at the settlement, he finds himself instantly drawn to the beautiful and rule-breaking SKYE (Allison Miller, “Kings”). MADDY (Naomi Scott, “Life Bites”), Josh’s endearingly awkward 15-year-old sister, hopes Terra Nova will give her a chance to reinvent herself. Although Elisabeth’s medical training secured the family a spot on the pilgrimage, a secret involving their five-year-old daughter, ZOE (newcomer Alana Mansour), soon endangers their place in this utopia. Upon the Shannons’ arrival, they are introduced to COMMANDER NATHANIEL TAYLOR (Stephen Lang, “Avatar”), the charismatic and heroic first pioneer and leader of the settlement. Taylor warns the travelers that while Terra Nova is a place of new opportunities and fresh beginnings, all is not as idyllic as it initially appears. Along with blue skies, towering waterfalls and lush vegetation, the surrounding terrain is teeming with danger – and not just of the man-eating dinosaur variety. There is also a splinter colony of renegades led by the battle-hardened MIRA (Christine Adams, “TRON: Legacy”), who is vehemently opposed to Taylor and his leadership. Even more threatening than what lies outside the protective walls of the colony is the chilling possibility that something sinister is happening inside Terra Nova. The Shannons will come to suspect that not everyone on this mission has the same idea of how to best save mankind; in fact, there may be forces intent on destroying this new world before it even begins.
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: 20th Century Fox Television, Chernin Entertainment, DreamWorks Television, Kapital Entertainment
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Steven Spielberg, Peter Chernin, René Echevarria, Brannon Braga, Alex Graves (pilot), Jon Cassar, Aaron Kaplan, Katherine Pope, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Craig Silverstein, Kelly Marcel
DIRECTOR: Alex Graves
CAST: Jason O’Mara as Jim Shannon, Stephen Lang as Nathaniel Taylor, Shelley Conn as Elisabeth Shannon, Landon Liboiron as Josh Shannon, Naomi Scott as Maddy Shannon, Alana Mansour as Zoe Shannon, Christine Adams as Mira, Allison Miller as Skye.
The ‘Tastic Says: *sigh* We love everything about this, we just don’t think it has a snowball’s chance in Terra Nova to survive. FOX must know that epic SciFi on Network Television is dead and buried. Heck, they won’t even acknowledge that it is a SciFi show. Notice how they are calling it an “epic family adventure” Brannon Braga went so far as to say, “It’s really about this frontier family trying to survive.” Sure it is. This is the most expensive show in television history. We’re concerned that it could be disastrous for FOX.
The two new dramas set to debut midseason are:
Iraq war veteran WALTER SHERMAN (Geoff Stults, “She’s Out of My League”) gained a reputation while serving in the Army Military Police as someone who was very good at tracking down insurgents, deserters and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Unfortunately, Walter found one IED just moments before it found him. Two months later, when Walter woke from his coma, he earned an honorable discharge and returned home. His resulting brain damage from the explosion transformed him from someone skilled at recovering people and things into something much more extraordinary: a Finder. From the creator of the hit series Bones comes THE FINDER, the new one-hour procedural centering on a remarkable man who uses his unique gift to help others recover what they’ve lost. Walter may have left the military, but his reputation as a discreet professional who can unearth anything and anyone has been passed on to generals, politicians and other powerful figures. His first post-military assignment was to find the CIA head honcho’s missing daughter and bring her home. Walter did both, and since then has never been without an assignment. After settling in Key West, Walter met the beautiful and worldly IKE LATULIPPE (Saffron Burrows, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”), a woman with a mysterious past and many hidden skills. She tends bar at The Ends of the Earth, which also serves as a makeshift office and home base for Walter. Walter helped Ike escape a dangerous life, and for that, she is eternally grateful. Another island denizen dedicated to Walter is LEO KNOX (Michael Clarke Duncan, “The Green Mile”), once an obese lawyer who, after the deaths of his wife and children, completely reinvented himself into a gentle giant, philosopher and Walter’s legal advisor. Because of his skills, Walter is often asked to find a person or a thing that law enforcement either will not or cannot find. With the help of Ike and Leo, as well as a patchwork of indebted connections, he and his team ultimately find meaning in their own lives by finding something or someone other people have lost.
PRODUCTION COMPANY: 20th Century Fox Television
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Hart Hanson, Dan Sackheim, Barry Josephson
WRITER: Hart Hanson
DIRECTOR: Dan Sackheim
CAST: Geoff Stults as Walter Sherman, Michael Clarke Duncan as Leo Knox, Saffron Burrows as Ike Latulippe.
The ‘Tastic Says: We’re not fans of Bones. It’s not bad, it’s just a vanilla procedural. The Finder, however, seems quite interesting. We’re always willing to give a procedural a shot when they put a unique twist on it. This reminds of the A&E hit, The Glades.
From executive producer J.J. Abrams (FRINGE, “Lost,” “Star Trek” and the upcoming “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and “Super 8”) and writer and executive producer Elizabeth Sarnoff (“Lost,” “Deadwood”) comes ALCATRAZ, the chilling new thriller centered on America’s most infamous prison and one-time home to the nation’s most notorious murderers, rapists, kidnappers, thieves and arsonists. When San Francisco Police Department DET. REBECCA MADSEN (Sarah Jones, “Sons Of Anarchy”) is assigned to a grisly homicide case, a fingerprint leads her to a shocking suspect: JACK SYLVANE (guest star Jeffrey Pierce, “The Nine”), a former Alcatraz inmate who died decades ago. Given her family history – both her grandfather and surrogate uncle, RAY ARCHER (Robert Forster, “Jackie Brown”), were guards at the prison – Madsen’s interest is immediately piqued, and once the enigmatic, knows-everything-but-tells-nothing government agent EMERSON HAUSER (Sam Neill, “Jurassic Park”) tries to impede her investigation, she’s doggedly committed. Madsen turns to Alcatraz expert and comic book enthusiast, DR. DIEGO “DOC” SOTO (Jorge Garcia, “Lost”), to piece together the inexplicable sequence of events. The twosome discovers that Sylvane is not only alive, but he’s loose on the streets of San Francisco, leaving bodies in his wake. And strangely, he hasn’t aged a day since he was in Alcatraz, when the prison was ruled by the iron-fisted WARDEN EDWIN JAMES (Jonny Coyne, “Undercovers”) and the merciless ASSOCIATE WARDEN E.B. TILLER (Jason Butler Harner, “The Changeling”). Madsen and Soto reluctantly team with Agent Hauser and his technician, LUCY BANERJEE (Parminder Nagra, “ER”), to stop Sylvane’s vengeful killing spree. By delving into Alcatraz history, government cover-ups and Rebecca’s own heritage, the team will ultimately discover that Sylvane is only a small part of a much larger, more sinister present-day threat. For while he may be the first, it quickly becomes clear that Sylvane won’t be the last prisoner to reappear from Alcatraz. Through the course of the investigation, Madsen and Soto will learn that Agent Hauser has known about the prison’s secret history and has been awaiting the prisoners’ return. Soto will witness his life’s work – the history of Alcatraz – come alive. Madsen will be forced to keep her supportive San Francisco cop fiancé, JIMMY DICKENS (Santiago Cabrera, “Heroes”), at arm’s length from the highly classified assignment as she sees everything she thought she knew about her family’s past shattered, all while fighting to keep the country safe from history’s most dangerous criminals.
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Bad Robot Productions, Warner Bros. Television, Bonanza Productions Inc.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Elizabeth Sarnoff, Danny Cannon (pilot)
WRITERS: Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt
DIRECTOR: Danny Cannon
CAST: Sarah Jones as Det. Rebecca Madsen, Jorge Garcia as Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto, Sam Neill as Emerson Hauser, Parminder Nagra as Lucy Banerjee, Robert Forster as Ray Archer, Santiago Cabrera as Jimmy Dickens, Jonny Coyne as Warden Edwin James, Jason Butler Harner as Associate Warden E.B. Tiller
GUEST CAST: Jeffrey Pierce as Jack Sylvane
The ‘Tastic Says: OK, for everyone with Lost withdrawal like us, this is the show we’ve been waiting for. Looks like Lost meets Fringe meets Prison Break. We just hope the Losties transfer over to FOX and find what will no doubt be a gem of a show from J.J. Abrams. The smartest thing that they have done with this show is to air it mid-season, meaning ZERO hiatuses which exactly what needs to be done with serials during this era for any hope of success.
The following new animated comedy will premiere in midseason on FOX:
Based on the hit film, NAPOLEON DYNAMITE is an animated series that follows the continuing adventures of America’s most awesome awkward teenager and his quirky family and friends as they struggle to navigate small-town life in rural Idaho. The original cast from the film – Jon Heder, Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, Tina Majorino, Sandy Martin, Jon Gries and Diedrich Bader – will voice their characters in the series, and many new characters will be added along the way. NAPOLEON DYNAMITE (Heder) is a 16-year-old boy convinced – for no apparent reason – that he is destined for greatness and blessed with unlimited “sweet abilities.” He spends his days practicing ninja moves, drawing ligers, soul dancing and bragging about his “girlfriend in Oklahoma” whom nobody has ever seen. Napoleon’s brother, KIP (Ruell), is an unemployed 32-year-old who lives at home and believes he would be an amazing catch for any girl who would respond to his online come-ons. The Dynamite brothers live with GRANDMA (Martin), a crusty woman who can often be found four-wheeling with her lady friends at the local sand dunes. Napoleon’s allies include PEDRO (Ramirez), his unflappable best friend who has recently been elected class president; and DEB (Majorino), an incredibly sweet girl who sees the good in Napoleon and dreams of someday being his wife. Napoleon’s UNCLE RICO (Gries) lives out of an orange custom van, where he obsesses over his botched high school football career and dreams up ways to become rich and famous. Then there’s REX KWON DO (Bader), a self-proclaimed martial-arts master who runs the local dojo. Guest voices in the debut season include Jennifer Coolidge (“American Pie,” “Legally Blonde”), Sam Rockwell (“Choke”) and Jemaine Clement (“Flight of the Conchords”).
PRODUCTION COMPANY: 20th Century Fox Television
CREATORS/EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess, Mike Scully
VOICE CAST: Jon Heder as Napoleon Dynamite, Jon Gries as Uncle Rico, Aaron Ruell as Kip, Efren Ramirez as Pedro, Diedrich Bader as Rex, Tina Majorino as Deb, Sandy Martin as Grandma.
The ‘Tastic Says: Oh, you’ve gotta be f*cking kidding us! Who’s brilliant idea was it to pick up an animated series based on a film that was a gimmick that wasn’t that funny to begin with when it aired seven years ago? We’ve gotten married and had three kids since this was popular (no joke), for Pete’s sake. As with Allen Gregory, we think there’s a reason FOX only ordered six episodes of this.
The following drama is in development and slated for midseason:
From writer/creator Tim Kring (“Heroes,” “Crossing Jordan”) and executive producers Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope comes TOUCH, a preternatural drama in which science and spirituality intersect with the hopeful premise that we are all interconnected, tied in invisible ways to those whose lives we are destined to alter and impact. Through masterful storytelling, the series follows a group of seemingly unrelated characters – beginning with a former firefighter tormented by his inability to save a dying woman, an Iraqi teenager who will go to great risks to help his family, a gifted singer whose actions at a karaoke bar save lives thousands of miles away and a British businessman desperately trying to retrieve a key piece of information from his lost mobile phone – who affect each other in ways seen and unseen. At the center is MARTIN BOHM (Kiefer Sutherland, “24”), a widower and single father, haunted by an inability to connect to his mute, severely autistic 10-year-old son, JAKE. Caring, intelligent and thoughtful, Martin has tried everything to reach his son who shows little emotion and never allows himself to be touched by anyone, including Martin. Jake busies himself with cast-off cell phones, disassembling them and manipulating the parts, allowing him to see the world in his own special way. After multiple failed attempts at keeping Jake in school, Martin is visited by social worker CLEA HOPKINS, who insists on doing an evaluation of the Bohms’ living situation. Although new at her job, Clea sees a man whose life has become dominated by a child he can no longer control. She believes his attempts to communicate with Jake are just wish fulfillment, and determines that it’s time for the state to intervene. But everything changes when Martin discovers that Jake possesses a gift of staggering genius – the ability to see things that no one else can, the patterns that connect everything. Jake is indeed communicating after all. But it’s not with words, it’s with numbers. And now he needs Martin to decipher their meaning and connect these numbers to the cast of seemingly unrelated characters whose lives they affect. Along the way, Martin will be guided by BORIS PODOLSKY, a discredited aging professor who offers Martin a compelling but unorthodox theory about Jake and his rare ability. Whether it be chance, coincidence, timing, synergy or fate, there are events that touch us all, as part of an interconnected, dazzlingly precise universe.
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: 20th Century Fox Television, Tailwind Productions, Chernin Entertainment
CREATOR/WRITER: Tim Kring
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Tim Kring, Francis Lawrence, Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope, Kiefer Sutherland, Suzan Bymel
DIRECTOR: Francis Lawrence
CAST: Kiefer Sutherland as Martin Bohm
The ‘Tastic Says: OK… this does look very good and very intriguing but there’s an elephant in the room regarding this: where’s it going to fit? Touch was not listed in the primetime schedule for FOX for Fall or midseason so what is FOX planning on killing by January? This show is a major player. You don’t get Tim Kring and Kiefer Sutherland and premiere them on Friday nights. Scheduling issues notwithstanding, this show is very SciFi and it better not be to confusing or it’s going to drive audiences away. Not us… no, we’re in it for the long haul but the rest of the “normies” will probably freak if it starts getting a little complicated.
(Sorry, no trailer available yet.)
Here it is, folks, direct from the FOX Upfront Advertising Event, FOX’s 2011 – 2012 Primetime Programming Schedule (scroll down for complete schedule). Please note, if you don’t see your favorite show from this season, recent cancellations have been covered here, however as we reported, the status of Breaking In is reported to be still up in the air.
If you have any questions about other shows, post them below.
Some programming notes:
- Some solid scripted shows, however the new comedies seem weak, despite the star power behind them.
- The elephant in the room that is Terra Nova: The Big Gamble. Depending on how well or poorly this does could change the direction of the entire schedule. Read why we believe TN is such a big gamble, here and here. Believe us, we’re rooting for it, we’re just nervous about it and we think FOX is too. We’re still trying to figure out if they plan to run this for an entire 22 episode run because it’s nowhere on the mid-season schedule. So it’s either going for 13 episodes (which we believe would be the smarter move) or it will have an abbreviated 19 episode season non-stop through December.
- New J.J. Abrams, series Alcatraz to premiere mid-season. Perhaps the smartest move of the schedule to avoid hiatuses and loss of interest by audiences of what no doubt will be a Lost-type serial.
- After 24 seasons, America’s Most Wanted is no longer a regular series. It will now be shown as four specials throughout the year.
- The Cleveland Show has swapped places with American Dad, going to the less desirable 7:30 – 8:30 PM spot on Sunday and putting AD back into its longstanding 9:30 – 10:00 PM for the first half of the season. New series Allen Gregory will be in the 8:30 – 9:30 PM slot, a slot that was filled by The Cleveland Show for the first half of the season and Bob’s Burgers for the second half. This gives credence to our suggestion that we made when the announcement for AD‘s renewal was made in which the press release claimed that an order had been placed for 22 episodes, however it contradicted itself by stating that the show was renewed through 2013. We suggested that one of the only ways this would make sense would be if AD was going to get half-season treatment, although we did find that scenario the most unlikely. This could change, however depending on the success/failure of AG and ND.
- We’re not expecting a whole lot from AG and ND and we don’t think FOX is either. We explain why here. We expect these shows to both be canceled pretty quickly as the two had seven and six episodes orders, respectively. We hear that FOX has at least two more animated shows in the hopper waiting to go, though, just in case.
- Finally, keep in mind that an NFL lockout is looming. This could send ripples through the entire FOX schedule.
So without further adieu:
FOX FALL 2011 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE
(All Times ET/PT)
8:00-9:00 PM Terra Nova (NEW!)
9:00-10:00 PM House
8:00-9:00 PM Glee
9:00-9:30 PM The New Girl (NEW!)
9:30-10:00 PM Raising Hope
8:00-9:00 PM The X-Factor (Results Show) (NEW!)
9:00-10:00 PM Bones
8:00-8:30 PM COPS
8:30-9:00 PM COPS
9:00-10:00 PM (Encores) / America’s Most Wanted (Specials)
FOX MIDSEASON 2012 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE
(All Times ET/PT)
8:00-9:00 PM Glee
9:00-9:30 PM The New Girl (NEW!)
9:30-10:00 PM Raising Hope
8:00-9:30 PM American Idol
9:30-10:00 PM I Hate My Teenage Daughter (NEW!)
8:00-9:00 PM American Idol (Results Show)
9:00-10:00 PM The Finder (NEW!) / Bones (Spring)
8:00-9:00 PM Kitchen Nightmares
9:00-10:00 PM Fringe
8:00-8:30 PM COPS
8:30-9:00 PM COPS
9:00-10:00 PM (Encores) / America’s Most Wanted (Specials)
FALLING SKIES opens in the chaotic aftermath of an alien attack that has left most of the world completely incapacitated. In the six months since the initial invasion, the few survivors have banded together outside major cities to begin the difficult task of fighting back. Each day is a test of survival as citizen soldiers work to protect the people in their care while also engaging in an insurgency campaign against the occupying alien force.
At the center of the series is Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), a Boston history professor whose family has been torn apart. His wife was killed in the initial attack, and one of his three sons has been captured. Determined to get his son back and to ensure the safety of his other two sons, Tom must put his extensive knowledge of military history to the test as one of the leaders of the resistance movement known as the 2nd Mass, because of their location in Boston, Mass. They are constantly trying to gain intelligence about the aliens in order to one day outsmart and overtake them and hopefully rebuild their lives.
Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation) co-stars as Anne Glass, a pediatrician who works with the surviving children to help them cope with the traumatic upheaval in their lives. Will Patton (Armageddon, TNT’s Into the West) plays a fierce leader of the resistance, Weaver. The series also stars Drew Roy (Secretariat) as Hal, Tom’s oldest son and a growing fighter in the resistance movement; Maxim Knight (Brothers & Sisters) as Matt, Tom’s youngest son; Connor Jessup (The Saddle Club) as Ben, Tom’s son who was captured by aliens; and Seychelle Gabriel (Weeds) as Lourdes, an orphaned teenager who helps Anne in the group’s makeshift medical clinic. Colin Cunningham (Living in Your Car) is John Pope, the leader of an outlaw motorcycle gang and Sarah Carter (Shark) is Margaret, a wary survivor of Pope’s gang.
FALLING SKIES focuses on the resilience of the survivors and their determination to maintain their humanity when all else has been destroyed. It is a tale of endurance, commitment and courage in which everyday people are called upon to become heroes. They may be outmatched, outnumbered and outgunned, but nothing can beat the human spirit. Most of all, the series is about the ties that bind people together in the most difficult of circumstances.
The aliens in the series are mighty, mysterious and merciless. They are highly intelligent and use military-like tactics, which makes them an overwhelming force against the 2nd Mass. There are two types of aliens that the human survivors have named Skitters and Mechs. Combining live action and special visual effects, the Skitters have spider-like bodies and incredible strength and agility. The deadly, robotic Mechs stand upright and can shoot bullets from their arms. The aliens control captured children, like Tom’s son Ben, through bio-mechanical harnesses but have yet to reveal their ultimate plan for them.
FALLING SKIES is executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, along with DreamWorks Television heads Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank, Graham Yost (Justified, The Pacific) and screenwriter Robert Rodat. Rodat, who earned an Oscar® nomination for his screenplay for Saving Private Ryan, wrote the pilot from an idea he co-conceived with Spielberg. Mark Verheiden (Heroes, Battlestar Galactica) and Greg Beeman (Heroes, Smallville) are co-executive producers. The pilot was directed by Carl Franklin (One False Move, Out of Time). – TNT
Longer First Look Extended Trailer:
So, here’s the question of the month: How the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks did we miss this. Seriously, we’re genetically predisposed to have the first scoop on all new SciFi programming out there. This is just embarrassing. We only heard about Falling Skies yesterday when we saw the trailer on TNT and thought it was for a summer blockbuster that we didn’t know about.
That being said, this looks exceptionally well-done for basic cable with Dreamworks producing it and Steven Spielberg heavily involved with creating the aliens. Dare we say, it looks even better than Terra Nova and we think it has a better chance of staying on the air for a second season then TN as well because basically they’ve done everything right, so far, as far as production of Sci-Fi television is concerned.
It’s on Basic Cable and NOT on a Major Network. Better yet, it’s on TNT which overall in 2010 was the #4 cable Network on television and #2 for original non-niche scripted programming (for clarification, Disney and ESPN, #2 and #3, respectively, are niche networks) behind only USA. The expectation for high audience numbers is dramatically lower on basic cable than it is on major network which is a luxury that TN doesn’t have on FOX and to make matters worse for TN, over the past decade, Sci-Fi is DEAD on Network television for this generation of audiences and has been an abysmal failure every time it’s been attempted and this dovetails into the next advantage for renewal FS has…
- $$$$ Because FS is on basic cable, the production costs will be dramatically lower than any show on a major network and considering that TN is the most expensive show in the history of television, we can only imagine that the production costs of FS is infinitesimal in comparison to TN. Again, this goes back to the ratings expectations that TNT will have for FS as opposed to what FOX will have for TN. One of the biggest factors a show has to overcome is production costs. When 24 was canceled last year, even though the ratings were continuing to drop they weren’t particularly awful. The problem was (besides the fact that the producers admitted that the well had run dry) that the show was just so damned expensive to produce that they couldn’t justify renewing it. A show has to get high enough ratings in order to justify high ad rates in order to justify high production costs. It’s that simple. Considering what we said about the recent history of Sci-Fi on network, the advantage again goes to FS.
“O, Canada, Our Home and Native Land!” As soon as we saw the trailers for FS, the first thing we thought was, “Oh, this has to be being produced in Canada,” and as we confirmed with iMDB, it sure as heck is (Hamilton, Ontario to be precise). It’s well-known that the key to keeping production costs down dramatically with Sci-Fi television is to film in Canada. Don’t believe us? Take a look at this list of Sci-Fi shows filmed in Canada over the last two decades. Where is TN being produced? In ridiculously cost-prohibitive Australia which is just adding to the enormous price-tag of that show. Advantage, FS.
- Shorter Schedule Beyond the obvious fact that producing more than twice as many episodes per season (22 for TN as opposed to 10 for FS) will cost twice as much for FOX, there’s also a much bigger issue and that is that a 22 episode season, by its nature, will air over the course of an entire television season, in this case (allegedly) 2011 – 2012. This means long hiatuses and reruns for the show which has proven time and time again to be catastrophic for Sci-Fi and genre which is exactly why they eventually stopped doing it with 24, Lost, and Alias to name a few, instead, choosing to air their entire seasons as mid-season replacements without anything more than the random one week break between new episodes. Today’s audiences have ZERO patience for serials to begin with, nevertheless Sci-Fi serials, and they will not tolerate shows that leave them hanging for six weeks to several months at a time. FS will air new episodes continuously for ten weeks and it’s airing in the middle of summer with no competition from the major networks which is a strategy that continues to be proven successful for basic cable networks.
Finally, 22 episodes of Sci-Fi is just too much for major network television (and no, even though The CW is a major network, they don’t count for the purpose of this discussion for obvious reasons.). Today’s major network audiences just will not hang in there for 22 episodes of Sci-Fi any more. Now, we love Fringe and we’re certainly thrilled it got picked up for a fourth season but that is an anomaly and the audience numbers haven’t been particularly great for it which is why it got moved from the middle of the week to Friday to begin with. The standard 10 – 13 episode seasons for original programming on basic cable works just fine for Sci-Fi. Advantage, FS.
So why are we so excited about FS? Well, first, the trailers look fantastic and yes, we know it’s not a particularly original concept stealing aspects from The Terminator, Battlestar Galactica, V, The Road, Independence Day and War of the Worlds, to name a few (not to mention that the whole “stealing children and technologically altering them” concept is eerily similar to the Borg in Star Trek) but heck, we like that kind of Sci-Fi because it invariably promises us great action and character development. We also don’t think that it’s a coincidence that Noah Wyle looks like he was separated at birth from Terminator: Salvation star and leader of the resistance Christian Bale (John Connor).
Along with the great action, though, is that shows like this invariably raise thought-provoking philosophical questions about humanity, often without the audience realizing it until after it’s happened. This is one of the marks of great Sci-Fi storytelling which this particular brand of Sci-Fi excels at and we really expect nothing less considering the heavy hitters that are on board for this and their experience and success they bring to this in the writing and production department (see the last paragraph of the show description at the top).
Also, just to preempt the inevitable cries of “it’s not an original concept” from the peanut gallery (that have already begun), we’ve got news for you: there are no original concepts in Sci-Fi anymore. Every concept you can think of has been thought up by someone else in this genre and been done already. It’s the execution of concept that counts and that’s what will be the deciding factor in FS‘s success or failure.
Check out the official Falling Skies webpage, here.
Game of Thrones is an American medieval fantasy television series created for HBO by David Benioff and Dan Weiss. The series is based on author George R. R. Martin’s best-selling A Song of Ice and Fire series of seven fantasy novels; HBO’s overall series’ title is derived from the first novel. The premium cable television series closely follows the multiple story lines of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and author Martin has stated that the show’s pilot script was very faithful to his work. Set in the seven Kingdoms of Westeros, where “summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime,” Game of Thrones chronicles the violent dynastic struggles among the kingdom’s seven noble families for control of the Iron Throne. – Wikipedia
Seven noble families fight for control of the mythical land of Westeros. Political and sexual intrigue abound. The primary families are the Stark, Lannister, and Baratheon families. Robert Baratheon, King of Westeros, asks his old friend Eddard Stark to serve as his chief advisor. Eddard, suspecting that his predecessor had been murdered, accepts so that he can investigate further. It turns out more than one family is plotting to take the throne. The Queen’s family, the Lannisters, may be hatching a plot to take control. Across the sea, the last surviving members of the previously deposed ruling family, the Targaryens, are also plotting a return to power. The conflict between these families and others, including the Greyjoys, the Tullys, the Arryns, and the Tyrells, leads to war. Meanwhile, in the north, an ancient evil awakens. Amidst war and the political confusion, a brotherhood of misfits, The Night’s Watch, is all that stands between the realms of men and the horrors beyond. – iMDB
8 out of 10
First of all, we apologize for the double description but you’d be amazed at how difficult it is to actually find a decent show description at the usual suspects like Metacritic… or HBO’s homepage for the show. We suspect the reason for this is that no one but the most devoted fanboy knows enough to be able to sum up coherently what the show is about. On our end, we’re in the same boat. After watching the first episode, we can say that we reasonably understand what’s going on, but we would have no idea how to explain it. There’s a lot going on in this show with the different subplots and characters and it really plays out an awful lot like a soap opera (not a complaint, just an observation), and its serial nature and what looks like will be a weekly cliffhanger will have us coming back week after week, even though this genre has never really been our cup of tea. Don’t get us wrong, we like this stuff but we’ve always been more interested in traditional science fiction (particularly of the space based variety) than we ever have been of medieval fantasy.
That being said, Game of Thrones is the most amazingly produced series we’ve ever seen (so far… Terra Nova may be even better… if it ever airs). With a reported $5 to $10 million spent on the pilot and an estimated budget for the first season between $50 and $60 million, it’s easy to understand why. The show feels much more like a big-budget summer blockbuster film than it does a TV series and as you watch it, you really don’t want to get up to even use the bathroom because the absolute aesthetic beauty of the photography is just spell-binding. The cinematography, lighting, filters used on the lenses, and even the CGI is absolutely perfect. The Northern Ireland and Malta filming locations are absolutely stunning and authentic as are the costumes. Have we mentioned the music? Well, the score, which is composed by Ramin Djawadi, is modern and absolutely beautiful. It reminds us of the work of Sean Callery and Bear McCreary.
As far as the plot is concerned, as noted it is quite compelling but, we have to say that so far, the characters leave a lot to be desired in the likability/relatability department. Most of them, even the heroes, are pretty nasty human beings who are pretty self-centered with ZERO regard for human life and yes, we understand that the story is being told from a medieval perspective, however, it is a story for a contemporary audience (Hell, the novels were written in 1996) and the general amorality of the characters is a bit off-putting and uncomfortable. The male characters also display very misogynistic tendencies and they are quite vulgar in their misogyny as well and it really does make us a tad uncomfortable especially when watching it with Mrs. Tastic:
“I would let his whole tribe f**k you – all 40,000 men, and their horses, too, if that’s what it took.” – Viserys Targaryen… to his sister, Daenerys
Yikes! Yeah, thanks for that visual. Noooo… that wasn’t awkward at all. We suspect that the characters will become more sympathetic as the series progresses simply because we will become more attached to the storyline, but of course that will take time and as an audience, we’ll need to suspend our modern preconceptions of morality and decency for this to happen (and we’re pretty sure that despite the number of times they dropped it, the F-bomb didn’t exist during medieval times). Seriously, the characters are like a bunch of hedonistic Klingons and this dovetails into the only real issue we have with the show.
As we noted in our Being Human review, HBO has a tendency to overdo the gratuitous sex, graphic violence, nudity and profanity and it’s not necessary. It often becomes a distraction and usually it’s used for shock-value exclusively when the well has run dry in the writing department. After watching the Game of Thrones pilot, we are starting to think that they are just getting so used to using that particular crutch that they can’t help themselves anymore. There were three completely unnecessary nude scenes in the pilot, a sex scene that could have just as easily been implied, ditto on the fellatio scene with the dwarf, the aforementioned ridiculous and historically out of context use of the F-bomb, two graphic beheadings and an orgy/slash gang rape scene (at a wedding, no less) that was topped off by a disembowelment. Now, THAT’S our type of party.
The premium cable television series closely follows the multiple story lines of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and author Martin has stated that the show’s pilot script was very faithful to his work.
As much as we appreciate adapted works remaining true the source material, and we’re assuming that this over-the-top content is in the novels as well, we’re kind of wishing that it wasn’t as true to the original and that the producers would tone it down just a tad. Now, we aren’t offended by any of those scenes, but as noted it just becomes distracting and it doesn’t seem really that necessary to advance the plot of what is a very good show that stands on its own merits without the need for gratuitous gimmickry.
Again, this was a bit of a minor issue and without a question, this is one of the best shows on TV and thanks to the fanboys, 48 hours after the pilot was aired on Sunday, the series was renewed for a second season. It also didn’t hurt that last weekend was HBO’s Free Preview Weekend and we’re curious if it wasn’t so much the ratings that got the show renewed, but the massive increase of subscribers to HBO post-premiere that did the trick. Boy, are we ever curious as to those Monday new subscription numbers.
As an aside, though, the fanboy factor in the success of this series cannot be overstated and inevitably will stir up the decade-old discussion of the viability of genre and Sci-Fi on premium cable. Until now, there haven’t been any successful examples to use as a point of reference. Who knows? Maybe Game of Thrones has opened the door for the possibility of the next Star Trek or Stargate series to air on premium cable (don’t forget, Stargate: SG-1 was on Showtime for five seasons before it was on SciFi) or even perhaps the rebirth of great shows that left us too early such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles or even Firefly. *Sigh* Yes, we know; now our true fanboy colors are showing and we’re losing ourselves in fantasy.
Hi, folks. Thanks for coming back for part two of this very special feature on FOX where Blossom ponders losing her virginity, yet again. No, no, no, obviously we’re going to talk about FOX’s recent surprising schedule moves and what we think is going on over there. Yesterday, of course, we reported on the renewal of Bob’s Burgers for a second season and left our readers with a cliffhanger as to the significance of this renewal for the network as a whole and why we are actually pleased about the renewal despite that we don’t like the show. So now it’s time to explain why and we’ll bring you back to when we fist heard about FOX moving Fringe to Friday nights.
As noted by our two pieces on Fringe‘s move to Friday (here and here) we’ve been very critical of FOX’s history of jumping ship on shows (especially new shows) that have had a run of, not even horrible, but average to mediocre ratings. Seriously, c’mon, FOX… Seinfeld wasn’t immediately a hit. It wasn’t even in the top 30 for its first three seasons and in its fourth season it was #25.
Anyway, in these pieces, we also expressed our skepticism with FOX’s stated commitment in the past to fan-favorite shows and of course this directly related to their campaign in January expressing the same commitment to Fringe. But, then, a few weeks ago, Virginia found out that there is indeed a Santa Claus and the announcement was made that Fringe not only had been renewed for a fourth season, but it was given a full season order… in March. We speculated as to why this occurred as EVERYONE, including us, assumed that after the ratings decline, the move to Friday and of course, FOX’s history, this show was destined for Cancellationville.
And of course, there is American Dad, a show that FOX execs have not historically supported and have been trying to replace for years and it got renewed for a seventh season… in February, again with a full season order of 22 episodes, no less.
When we heard the announcement about Fringe, we speculated as to the many reasons it may have been spared cancellation but came to the conclusion that we really didn’t care, we were just happy that the show was saved. But now, we’re hearing that FOX is on the verge of losing House, as well.
The network remains in last-minute negotiations with Universal Media Studios, which owns the series, in hopes of signing a new deal for an eighth season. The two sides are far apart in determining the percentage each will pay for the show’s costs.
UMS, owned by NBCUniversal, has given Fox an extension on the window of negotiation exclusivity. That ends Friday. If the two sides can’t come to an agreement, UMS will offer the show to competing networks including, of course, the Peacock, which would likely be more than happy to take the series away from Fox.
So thanks to all of these developments, we’ve been dragged into the speculation game and we’re guessing that there are several issues at play here:
First, FOX has some serious issues with original scripted program scheduling coming this Fall and this is just based on what we know. Four new shows from 2010 – 2011 have already been canceled (Running Wilde, The Good Guys, Sons of Tuscon and Lone Star) and Traffic Light is certain to be canceled by May 16th. So, that’s five down right there (and chances for The Chicago Code being renewed for a second season seem to be getting slimmer by the day) and Human Target and Lie To Me are more likely to be cancelled than not. Add to that the fact that as of this posting FOX hasn’t been able to come to a deal to keep the perennial hits Bones and (as earlier noted) House (the deadline for a deal for House was last Friday), the network faces potentially being down nine scripted programs from 2010 – 2011 (Even though we are still trying to forget about Sons of Tuscon as if it never existed, and of course we aren’t counting 24 which was at the end of its run).
And here’s the thing about House: Universal may not come to a deal intentionally and may just turn House over to NBC who is desperate for a strong scripted drama, or strong scripted anything at this point. Whereas FOX axed four of their new shows (with a fifth coming for sure), NBC has axed five of their new shows with at least a sixth certain to be on the way out the door (Sorry, but as much as The Event has improved by following what we suggested it needed to do, it was too little, too late…so, adiós!). Let’s also not forget Chuck, which is on its way out the door as well. It’s so bad at NBC that less-than-positive performers such as Law & Order: Los Angeles and Harry’s Law are almost guaranteed to be renewed because, well, frankly, theyz gots nothin’ else and they certainly don’t have American Idol or Simon Cowell’s new series, The X-Factor, that is destined to be a ratings juggernaut, so at the end of the day, NBC is in way worse shape than FOX. So, here’s our bold prediction: House will be on NBC come Fall 2011 and a deal with Bones (in desperation) will be made and it will return to FOX.
But the effects of losing House on FOX will be devastating and even if they keep Bones, that show has seen a sharp decline in ratings over the past two season which means there will be only one truly strong live-action veteran scripted show and that would be Glee. Can FOX really be comfortable going into the new Fall season with the The Animation Domination Block, Glee, The X-Factor and American Idol being the only programming that is guaranteed to be stable? We don’t think they possibly could be satisfied with that situation.
So taking this a step further, based on what we know for sure about the Fall schedule and the three shows that were renewed – not only unexpectedly but early, as well – (Fringe, American Dad and now Bob’s Burgers), here’s what we think is going on and it crossed our minds when we first heard about Fringe‘s renewal: FOX is not just uncomfortable with the new scripted programing they have ordered for Fall 2011, they’re downright nervous and they expected to have had more success with their new shows from 2010 – 2011. They also certainly didn’t expect the possibility of looking at Fall 2011 with no House and to a lesser extent no Bones.
This brings us to the Stephen Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment produced, epic Sci-Fi series, Terra Nova, which as we noted when we reported Fringe‘s renewal, has been delayed yet again and is set to debut in Fall 2011. There are some serious issues with Terra Nova that we think FOX is starting to get as concerned about as we are. First, the delays are insane and we are not confident at all that it will debut in the Fall as promised. Second, Terra Nova may be the most expensive show in history with the first two episodes alone costing $16 million and whereas the average episode of scripted drama costs $2.5 million, Terra Nova per episode cost will come in at $4 million and the show is rife with rumors of cost overruns although the producers deny this.
Third, this is the biggest risk that FOX has ever taken on any series, nevertheless a Sci-Fi series, in an era where epic Sci-Fi is DEAD on network television. And we’re sure that it doesn’t help when veteran television Sci-Fi writer and producer Brannon Braga (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise) who is exec. producing/writing Terra Nova is doing the “pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain” Great and Powerful Oz routine denying the fact that it is indeed a Sci-Fi series when you’d have to be blind not to see it:
But it’s not a sci-fi show.
“It’s really about this frontier family trying to survive,”
Centers on the Shannons, an ordinary family from 2149 when the planet is dying who are transported back 85 million years to prehistoric Earth where they join Terra Nova, a colony of humans with a second chance to build a civilization.
No, there’s absolutely nothing Sci-Fi about that premise at all. It’s just like Little House on the Prairie… but with time travel… and dinosaurs… and automatic weapons… with lasers.
So, if we go with the premise that FOX isn’t really sure whether or not Terra Nova is going to actually debut on the Fall 2011 schedule as planned and it finally occurred to them that this kind of Sci-Fi is highly questionable for network television and of course there’s the issue of the costs involved, we can come to only one conclusion: FOX is worried that they aren’t going to have much going on this Fall, Monday through Friday, other than Glee and The X-Factor and they’ve decided that keeping some of these shows that have established, stabilized audiences even though they’ve seen ratings drops, may be their only option. For goodness’ sake, and we cannot stress this enough, they saved three shows that everyone expected to be canceled, and again, this is FOX we’re talking about.
We alluded to this theory yesterday, in part one, our commentary on the Bob’s Burgers renewal:
We think FOX is starting to realize that it may be better for them to deal with the devil that they know as opposed to the one they don’t…
So, that’s where we think all of this is going and in our opinion, this is nothing but a positive turn of events. FOX has lived very well over the past decade with their scripted programming, reality program and sports. If new show, “A” didn’t work out as well or as quickly as they had hoped, they’d just dump it and replace it with new show “B” and if that didn’t work out they’d replace it with show “C” and so on and they’d usually find gold eventually. But let’s be honest about this; the crop of decent scripted shows out there over the past couple of years on ALL of the networks has been thin to say the least. So considering the lack of quality, sustainable shows, all the losses in shows that they’ve had in the past year, the possible losses of their perennial hits to other networks, and a questionable Fall 2011 lineup, it appears that FOX execs have been forced to put on the big boy pants and change their strategy so that they have something that’s at least slightly stable in their lineup, and will actually work to build up those shows by subsidizing them with their juggernauts, particularly American Idol and The X-Factor.
Now, although FOX may not be particularly happy about taking this approach (because of course, everyone likes the quick and easy buck), all of these developments and this new approach is nothing but positive for viewers and fans of the many quality scripted programs that FOX does have to offer, but probably wouldn’t have been given an opportunity like this if this was, oh, say, two or three years ago. Heck, we suspect that if Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles were in its second season in 2011 instead of in 2009, it already would have been renewed for a third season by now.
And this is EXACTLY why we are so happy about Bob’s Burgers being picked up for a second season (as much as we dislike it) because it’s show number four that was not only renewed by FOX but picked up early when no one expected it to be. This in turn gives up hope for the remaining three likely to be canceled shows, Lie to Me, Human Target and The Chicago Code. We can almost guarantee that FOX will not cancel all three of these shows, in fact, they may only cancel one of them but we are going to go with the premise, based on everything we’ve laid out over the past two days that they will keep at least one of them and we think it will be a toss-up between Lie to Me and Human Target.
Don’t get us wrong, we love The Chicago Code and we don’t particularly like the clichéd and predictable Lie to Me but we have to be objective about this. If FOX or any other network is going to pick up an underperforming show to keep for another season, they are going to pick one that has an established audience for at least a couple of seasons over a mid-season replacement that hasn’t been able to find any stability with their audience. The fact that The Chicago Code is a serial doesn’t help its chances of gaining a stable audience a season later, either. Now, obviously, Bob’s Burgers doesn’t have a multiple-season established audience BUT it did have the highest ratings of any new show premiere of the season and its audience numbers, though not great, have stabilized and it does have very strong lead-ins and lead-outs with The Simpsons and Family Guy, respectively, whereas The Chicago Code dos not.
So there you have it. Our wild speculation on why the big change in strategy at FOX. You can take it for what it’s worth, and call us crazy but do the research for yourself and see if you come to any other conclusions because we’d love to hear your take. Remember folks, May 16th is the big day for FOX. That’s when we find out who’s going and who’s staying.