Friday, May 16, 2008

This is Pacey Whitter's serious face: The Fox upfront

After a week of complete inertia from ABC, complete desperation from The CW, the same-old, same-old from CBS and Jimmy Fallon from NBC, Fox managed to make everyone's week by unveiling a schedule that was full of TV geek love and some solid scheduling moves that make the most of the network's pieces. With the much-loved Kevin Reilly at the helm, Fox is making a serious stab at becoming the quality TV fan's go-to place. AND the two most anticipated shows are going to have only five minutes of commercials? AND Ron Moore is doing a backdoor pilot with Peter Berg sometime at midseason? Heavens to Betsy, Fox. You've saved a boring-ass week of upfronts.

(And, while we're at it, check out clips from most of the new series here.)

Reilly's new quality mission, something he started up at NBC, where he put Friday Night Lights and 30 Rock, among others, on the schedule, is not totally the new Fox m.o.; they still have Til Death and The Moment of Truth, after all. But the rest of the stuff is pretty good!

Now, I'm sort of thinking that Fringe is going to be a big disappointment, if only because it's J.J. Abrams redoing The X-Files with a love triangle or something, and everyone's going to be expecting Lost or, at the least, bees who have smallpox (what was that all about again?). The clips from the pilot, though, are pretty intriguing, if I do say so, including a nicely creepy scene on board a doomed airliner (stop me if you've heard this one before). One caveat, though: Have you noticed how on Abrams' shows, the pseudoscience always SOUNDS like pseudoscience? Denethor is babbling here about linking brains together and somesuch, and I'm sure that one of the pilot's writers read all about it in Fortean Times or something, but it just SOUNDS like complete bullshit. Similarly, the pseudoscience on Alias and Lost has always sounded just as ridiculous. That's one thing The X-Files had going for it: The pseudoscience always sounded vaguely legit, possibly because David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson could always sell it. "By God, Scully," Duchovny would say, "isn't it POSSIBLE that one man can travel the whole world in one night by using some sort of quantum flappity-bloop?" and Anderson would furrow her brow, and you would BELIEVE.

Anyway, it doesn't matter what any of us think of Fringe, because Fox is using absolutely every weapon at its disposal to make the thing a hit. I suspect we'll all be sick of it soon.

Then there's Dollhouse, another smartly scheduled show (finally, Joss Whedon and Fox need not spell instant doom aside from the fact that the hard-to-summarize premise and reportedly elegaic tone will probably keep the thing from being all that popular to begin with!), though this one has the hopes of the entire world seemingly resting on its shoulders (what with Whedon's return to television, an aces cast that includes the sadly underutilized Olivia Williams and some awesome stunts). I know all you want to see is a trailer, so here's one, which, hilariously, appears to have been made in Microsoft MovieMaker.



As if all of that weren't enough, Fox is ALSO tossing out the aforementioned Moore pilot (though I'll be surprised if it ever goes to series -- it sounds WAY too high concept) AND the return of Arrested Development's Mitchell Hurwitz, this time with an odd blend of live-action and animation that, sadly, does not involve Dick Van Dyke dancing with penguins. The tiny clip from the new Hurwitz show seems a little slow and over-obvious, but Hurwitz's work often needs room to grow. Or maybe the cancellation of Arrested finally broke him.

And then there's some sitcom about a hotel (though it's from talented writer Abraham Higginbotham, it also stars Jerry O'Connell, so there are mixed signals all over the place) and a Family Guy spinoff (also starring a family of bears). You win some, you lose some, eh, Reilly?

What I'm most impressed with here is the smart scheduling of the Sunday-through-Wednesday nights. I don't think Til Death is half the player that Back to You could have become, but every night takes a small building block and pairs it with another show that makes sense. The network may be leaning on House and Bones filling slots willy-nilly too much, but the deployment of them here makes sense. Still, I would prefer to see the network develop something other than crappy reality for Thursday and Friday, but I suspect they'll make a tidy profit off of both nights. The only question I have here is whether ditching the 5th Grader/Lyrics pairing on Thursdays will prove to be a good move, as I'm not sure Moment of Truth is going to be able to stand up to the tough competition at 8. We shall see, I suppose.

Follow through after the jump for the complete schedule and stick around tomorrow for thoughts on what was actually ON TV this week.


As always, Fox has released a fall and spring schedule to account for how much American Idol messes with their lineup every year.

FOX PRIMETIME SCHEDULE: FALL 2008

(All Times ET/PT)

MONDAY
8:00-9:00 PM TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES
9:00-10:00 PM PRISON BREAK


TUESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM HOUSE
9:00-10:00 PM FRINGE


WEDNESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM BONES
9:00-9:30 PM ‘TIL DEATH
9:30-10:00 PM DO NOT DISTURB (wt)


THURSDAY
8:00-9:00 PM THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
9:00-10:00 PM KITCHEN NIGHTMARES


FRIDAY
8:00-9:00 PM ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A 5th GRADER?
9:00-10:00 PM DON’T FORGET THE LYRICS!


SATURDAY
8:00-8:30 PM COPS
8:30-9:00 PM COPS
9:00-10:00 PM AMERICA’S MOST WANTED: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK
11:00 PM-Midnight MADtv
Midnight-12:30 AM TALKSHOW WITH SPIKE FERESTEN


SUNDAY
7:00-8:00 PM THE OT (NFL post-game)
8:00-8:30 PM THE SIMPSONS
8:30-9:00 PM KING OF THE HILL
9:00-9:30 PM FAMILY GUY
9:30-10:00 PM AMERICAN DAD


FOX PRIMETIME SCHEDULE: BEGINNING JANUARY 2009

(All Times ET/PT)

MONDAY
8:00-9:00 PM DOLLHOUSE
9:00-10:00 PM 24


TUESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM AMERICAN IDOL
9:00-10:00 PM FRINGE


WEDNESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM HOUSE
9:00-9:30 PM AMERICAN IDOL Results Show
9:30-10:00 PM TBA Comedy


THURSDAY
8:00-9:00 PM HELL’S KITCHEN
9:00-10:00 PM SECRET MILLIONAIRE


FRIDAY
8:00-9:00 PM BONES
9:00-9:30 PM ‘TIL DEATH
9:30-10:00 PM DO NOT DISTURB (wt)


SATURDAY
8:00-8:30 PM COPS
8:30-9:00 PM COPS
9:00-10:00 PM AMERICA’S MOST WANTED: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK
11:00 PM-Midnight MADtv
Midnight-12:30 AM TALKSHOW WITH SPIKE FERESTEN


SUNDAY
7:00-7:30 PM COMEDY ENCORES
7:30-8:00 PM COMEDY ENCORES
8:00-8:30 PM THE SIMPSONS
8:30-9:00 PM KING OF THE HILL (January) / SIT DOWN, SHUT UP (wt) (spring)
9:00-9:30 PM FAMILY GUY
9:30-10:00 PM AMERICAN DAD (January) / THE CLEVELAND SHOW (wt) (spring)

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Pacey Witter, Pacey Witter, Pacey Witter, Pacey Witter...

Oh, sorry. Was there other news in this article rather than Josh Jackson's return to network television? I think I blacked out and missed it if there was. I saw a promo for Fringe during the American Idol finale (yes, I watched the American Idol finale) and did the full body squirm of glee. That sounds dirty, but I promise you it's not. Well, maybe a little bit.

Pacey's back! Whee!