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Monday, May 11, 2015

UPFRONTS 2015: Fox's Official Fall Schedule

Here is the FOX schedule!

Past FOX analysis: 2014   2013   2012   2011

8:00 Gotham (2nd Season)
As expected, season two of Gotham is being paired with one of FOX's several new male-skewing dramas. The lucky show is Minority Report, a sci-fi drama based on the hit film. This block will get a ton of NFL promotion on Sundays in the fall and FOX hopes they'll be much more compatible than Gotham and Sleepy Hollow were this year. On paper, this seems like a better fit. FOX has to hope that season two of Gotham doesn't go like season two of recent promising shows that slipped during their first season: Sleepy Hollow and The Following. The highly anticipated reboot of The X-Files is scheduled to take Gotham's place for several weeks after its premiere following the NFC Championship Game in January.

FOX is going all new on Tuesdays. As many expected, it'll be comedies paired with Scream Queens. The order is a little perplexing however. I get that the John Stamos comedy Grandfathered and the Rob Lowe comedy The Grinder may be a bit more "family hour" shows than Scream Queens but both comedies look so promising and FOX is putting them in a bit of a tough position. It seems like Scream should have gone at 8pm and the comedies at 9pm. Speaking of Scream Queens, this is FOX's newest attempt at creating a splash and it will be one of the fall's most anticipated shows. Whether it's any good or not is another matter, but it should have a strong start because it already has more buzz than most of the other fall shows. The plan for now is for Scream Queens to have a limited run and New Girl and the new Guide to Surviving Life will take over the 9pm slot in January. Hopefully Grandfathered and The Grinder will still be around by then!

9:00 Empire (2nd Season)
Well, the big question of Upfronts has been answered. The mammoth hit Empire will have an 18 episode season: nine in the fall and nine in the spring. Also, it will stay in the 9pm slot that it dominated in this year. I know people are pretty split on this but I think this is the right move. When you have something as big and hot as Empire, leave it where it is. If it has another mammoth fall, then it could be moved to 8pm for spring. But let's leave well enough alone for now. If it's anything like the spring, it could have a halo effect in the 8pm hour. At 8pm is the new medical drama Rosewood. It doesn't seem to have much in common with Empire except for a black lead. Though Rosewood looks OK, I have a hard time believing it will do numbers big enough for FOX to want to give it a second chance during the second half of Empire's season. I think we'll see something else here in the spring - maybe the still not picked up but seemingly compatible Studio City?

8:00 Bones (11th Season)
9:00 Sleepy Hollow (3rd Season)
FOX isn't really making a play on Thursdays but it is pairing two shows back together that worked really well in the Fall of 2013 - Bones and Sleepy Hollow. This seems a bit like a placeholder for American Idol and Sleepy has lost so much momentum that it seems likely to me this will end up being its final season. It could very well be the final season for Bones as well but that will probably depend more on how the new dramas pan out. This will be a weak night for FOX but they have to hope the rest of the week will go better than this past fall.

8:00 Masterchef Junior (3rd Season)
9:00 World's Funniest (2nd Season)
Fridays are all unscripted. Masterchef Junior goes back to the night despite doing quite well on Tuesdays this past season. It could be pressed into service on another night again but there's less obvious spots unless Rosewood instantly bombs. It will be paired with World's Funniest, which was a decent performer on Friday nights this spring and seems like it will be a good pair with Masterchef Junior. I'd expect a late start date for these two shows so FOX can encore some of their new dramas.

8:00 FOX Sports Saturday

7:00 NFL Overrun/The OT/Animated Encores
7:30 Bob's Burgers (6th Season)
8:00 The Simpsons (27th Season)
8:30 Brooklyn Nine-Nine (3rd Season)
9:00 Family Guy (13th Season)
9:30 The Last Man on Earth (2nd Season)
Sundays are staying exactly the same as they were in the spring. It was also the same from 7:30-9:30pm last fall and that lineup worked pretty well when football was in the equation. It's slipped in the spring but that happens every year so it should bounce back again in the fall. The difference is at 9:30pm where spring success The Last Man on Earth will air in the slot where Mulaney bombed last fall. This is a good move and it will give Last Man a chance to get some of the NFL trickle down, even though it's as late in the night as FOX goes. Still, it did more with less in the spring so it'll be interesting to see if it can grow in season two with better lead-ins.

I already talked about Guide to Surviving Life, New Girl, and The X-Files. Bordertown has been in the hopper for forever so who knows what will happen: maybe Sundays at 9:30pm in the spring if Last Man only does a half season? The Frankenstein Code and Lucifer don't have slots yet but there's a lot of drama slots that need to go right for nothing to open up at midseason. Hell's Kitchen is filler. The biggest news related to midseason is that this will be the final season for the one time dominant reality franchise American Idol. The show was the biggest on TV for a decade but it has slipped badly in recent years. Perhaps an announced send-off will help it for the final go-round.

CANCELLED/ENDED: Backstrom, The Following, Glee, Gracepoint, The Mindy Project, Mulaney, Red Band Society, Utopia, Weird Loners

I like a lot of this schedule. I think Mondays are good. I like the Wednesday move of keeping Empire at 9pm and I really like leaving Sunday alone. I like the promise of the Tuesday shows but I wish Scream Queens and the comedies had flipped. Thursdays is basically the "surrender" night from FOX like Wednesdays was for NBC. Fridays are low priority. Last fall, FOX bombed across the board except for Gotham and their Sunday lineup. With buzzy shows like Scream Queens and especially season two of Empire, this fall should absolutely go better. But it will help FOX a lot if a show like Rosewood, Minority Report, or especially the comedies can connect as well and they also need Gotham to not fall apart. Still, I like their chances for a better fall.

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