F/X Programming Update: ‘Justified,’ ‘Archer,’ ‘Lights Out.’ What’s Staying, What’s Going.

There have been three major announcements from F/X over the last few weeks regarding programming for the 2011 -2012 season.

Coming back…

First, in a move that delights us to no end, one of the best shows on television, Justified, has been renewed for a third season.

Via The Longest Press Release We’ve Ever Seen to Announce the Renewal of a Show:

FX’S CRITICALLY ACLLAIMED HIT DRAMA JUSTIFIED GETS PICK UP

Network Orders 13 Episodes for Third Season from

FX Productions and Sony Pictures Television

Six All New Episodes Remain in Season One, Wednesdays at 10 PM ET/PT

With Season 1 Finale Airing June 8

Season Two (First-Run) Averaging 3.9 Million Total Viewers and 2.0 Million Adults 18-49

Marking Gains of +16% in Total Viewers and Adults 18-49 vs. Season One Average

With Multi-Run Weekly Average of 7.2 Million Total Viewers and 3.7 Million Adults 18-49

LOS ANGELES, March 29, 2011 – The FX drama series Justified is enjoying one of the most critically acclaimed seasons of any show on television this year and today the network has ordered another season of the hit series, picking up a 13-episode third season, announced John Landgraf, President and General Manager of FX Networks.  Six all new episodes remain in season two, airing Wednesdays at 10 PM ET/PT, with the second season finale airing May 4.

“Justified was a critically acclaimed hit series in its first season, but the show has far surpassed our expectations this season,” said Landgraf.  “Creatively, the show is on a roll. The performances of Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins, Margo Martindale and the entire cast are extraordinary. Graham Yost and his team of writers are delivering some of the richest stories anywhere on TV and are doing a brilliant job of being true to Elmore Leonard’s original character, Raylan Givens. We couldn’t be more proud of the work everyone has done.”

Developed for television by Graham Yost and starring Timothy Olyphant, Justified (TV-MA) is based on the popular Elmore Leonard character “Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens” from his short story Fire in the Hole and some of his other novels.

Yost said, “I always say that the best review we’ve ever received on Justified is the fact that Elmore Leonard gets a kick out of the show.  I must add to that.  Now tied for the best feedback we’ve ever received is the news that a network as cool and original and supportive as FX is bringing us back for another year.”

“The show’s appeal speaks volumes to Graham’s fresh approach to storytelling,” said Jamie Erlicht, president of programming and production, Sony Pictures Television.

“The stellar performances by Timothy, Walton and the entire cast are Emmy caliber and we couldn’t be prouder of this series” added Zack Van Amburg, president of programming and production, Sony Pictures Television.

SOURCE: The Nielsen Company, NHI (Live+7)

Through seven weeks, first-run episodes of Justified are averaging 3.9 million viewers (+15% vs. season 1) and 2.0 million Adults 18-49 (+18% vs. season 1).  The weekly multi-run average viewership for the season 2 is 7.2 million total viewers and 3.7 million Adults 18-49, respective gains of +6% in Total Viewers and +6% in Adults 18-49.

The series co-stars Walton Goggins guest stars as “Boyd Crowder,” Nick Searcy as Givens longtime friend and boss “Chief Deputy Art Mullen,” Jacob Pitts as “Deputy Marshal Tim Gutterson,” Erica Tazel as “Deputy Marshal Rachel Brooks,” Joelle Carter as “Ava Crowder,” and Natalie Zea as Raylan’s ex-wife “Winona Hawkins.”  This season Margo Martindale joined the cast in a supporting role as “Mags Bennett,” matriarch of a rural Kentucky crime family and nemesis of Raylan Givens.

Yost wrote the pilot and serves as Executive Producer/Writer on the series. Leonard is an Executive Producer on the series along with Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly and Michael Dinner, and Olyphant is Producer. Justified is produced by FX Productions and Sony Pictures Television.

FX is the flagship general entertainment basic cable network from Fox. Launched in June of 1994, FX is carried in more than 99 million homes. The diverse schedule includes a growing roster of critically acclaimed and award-winning original series, an established film library of acquired box-office hit movies, and an impressive lineup of acquired hit series.

Later that same day, F/X announced that they would also be renewing the animated comedy series, Archer, for a third season as well, with new episodes airing in September.  We didn’t watch Archer when it first aired but since it’s been on Netflix Streaming, we’ve been getting into it and it’s absolutely hilarious.

 

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye: Lights Out

Finally, in a bit of disappointing (if not unexpected) news, on March 24th, F/X announced that they would not be renewing their critically acclaimed drama, Lights Out, for a second season.  In our review, we stated that Lights Out was the best new show of the Spring and we gave it a coveted 10 out of 10 rating (an honor that has only been bestowed upon one other show since we started the blog, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire) after only seeing two episodes and we firmly stand by that assessment.  We’ve done a separate commentary on the cancellation of Lights Out, which can be read here.

See… We Told You So. J.J. Abrams: “I’ll Start Drinking More,” No Upside To Fringe On Fridays

Fringe Returns on Friday January 21, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. on FOX

We did a piece back in December regarding the Fringe move to Friday nights in which – and we see no reason to sugar-coat this – we spent the majority of the piece, bashing (albeit justifiably) FOX for its treatment of scripted programming in general, its propensity to panic and banish a show to Friday nights for the purpose of letting it die and to, by virtue of their irresponsible programming decisions, cause the premature cancellation of quality programming.

We also explained that while were inclined to accept the fact that Fringe would be moving to Friday nights and this most likely signaled the end to the series (FOX or any other network can do whatever they want), what we could not tolerate was the self-righteous spin coming from FOX (specifically in the promo trailer below) which attacked other blogs and commentators far more reputable than The ‘Tastic who are well aware as we are of FOX’s history regarding scripted programming and in particular, genre programming, who dared to suggest the same thing that we did.

What particularly bothered us was not the issue of FOX calling out highly reputable sources such as Collider, Ain’t It Cool News, and IGN…  that’s fine.  When a media outlet is wrong or publishes commentary that is scurrilous with nothing to back it up, it’s completely justified.  The issue we had was that of FOX trying to pretend that they have no history of doing exactly what these outlets suggested and mocking them for the suggestion and leaving the false impression on the fans that they should pay no attention to the man behind the curtain because they of course are going to fully support Fringe on Friday night… just like they do all of their scripted programming they put there!

We took A LOT of heat for that piece by FOX gushers suggesting everything from we didn’t know what we were talking about, to we’re just making things up and our favorite, at least FOX gives Sci Fi and genre a chance as none of the other networks do (which is absolute nonsense).

So, as the weeks have progressed, there has been more and more propaganda spewed by FOX and by their willing accomplices in the media about how much support they are giving to Fringe. Outlets such as the folks at TV Line seem all to happy to not only believe FOX, but to promote their spin as if it should be believed, in particular Matt Webb Mitovich and Entertainment Weekly’s Michael Ausiello.  From Mitovich’s January 11th piece:

Fringe‘s move to Fridays, which takes hold on January 21, is looking more and more like a really terrific thing.

Not only has Fox been promoting the heck out of the time-slot change, but Fringe‘s new “under the radar” home apparently has opened the door for even freakier storytelling.

Noting that Fox “has always been pretty cool” about letting Fringe push the envelope, series creator J.J. Abrams tells TVLine that said envelope’s seams have achieved outrageous new levels of elasticity.

From Ausiello’s piece from January 18th:

In a major blow to the argument that Fox is banishing Fringe to Fridays to die, a new piece of evidence has emerged that strongly suggests the network very much wants the show to succeed in its new, challenging time slot: A fancy outdoor advertising campaign touting the show’s new Friday perch!

The fancy investment of $5,000.00 on a billboard which obviously means that FOX is fully supporting Fringe.

Well, we guess that completely shoots holes in our perspective and that of the rest of the other skeptics, right?  Well, not really.

You see, in an interview with Collider’s Christina Radish on January 12th, J.J. Abrams himself had a bit of  different take on the Friday move for Fringe than the FOX talking heads and the propaganda pushers at TV Line.

J.J. Abrams... He'll be drinking more.

Radish: How do you feel about the move to Friday nights for Fringe?

ABRAMS: Oh, I’m horrified beyond belief, but as a fan of the genre and the show, I’m hoping that fans will tune in. I certainly can promise that it will be worth their while. The episodes that are coming up are spectacular. I guess you can just be hopeful and say that, if the work is good enough, it will find the audience. I think they’re doing better work now, even in the second half of Season 3, than they’ve ever done on the series. I’m just crossing my fingers that fans of the show, show up.

Radish: Do you see any upside to the change in nights?

ABRAMS: Just in that I’ll start drinking more. No, I don’t see an upside because the audience on Friday nights is harder to find. But, that’s not to say that they aren’t there and that we might not be able to make it there. Certainly, I would be lying to you if I said I’m thrilled about the move. But, what I am thrilled about is that the network has been incredibly supportive and, despite its move to Friday, they’ve been nothing but encouraging of the show. It’s still on the air in its third season, and it’s not easy to do that. It’s not easy to get to Season 3 of anything. They’ve allowed the show to become truly great, I think. The question is, will audiences find a great show on Friday nights? I pray that they do.

Well, surprise, surprise!  J.J. Abrams has the exact same opinion of the move to Friday for Fringe that we do.  The only difference is that he’s more polite when discussing the show’s relationship with FOX than we are, because after all, they’re still paying the bills.  Like  J.J.,  we are also horrified and we see no upside to this move but we do sincerely pray that it does find success… but we doubt that it will.  The reality of it is, as Abrams knows, that if FOX truly had faith in Fringe and wanted to support it, they never would have moved it to Friday night to begin with.