2013-14 Television Broadcast Season: Fox

I was planning to do NBC tonight. However, I had a glass of wine, it got late and I decided to knock out Fox instead?

Why, you ask?

Well, Fox has significantly less primetime real-estate than the other Big 3 networks (CW doesn’t count) with only two hours versus three each night. They’ve got animation laminated on Sunday nights (as they’ve had for at least the last decade) and Fox also doesn’t bother with Saturdays. So really only need to discuss 10 hours of programming, versus 18 for the other networks.

Wait, make that nine.

If you’ve read my other blogs on the subject (and judging by the Google Analytics, you haven’t), you’ll know I’ve recently ranted regarding the lack of original prime time recording on Saturday nights. But Fox has taken it to a whole other level: They’ve actually scheduled repeats of a show they’re showing on Mondays…on Fridays.

On purpose.

I say that last part in jest, but it does sometimes accidentally happen where a network will have such a sh*t sandwich of shows (I’m digging alliteration today, go with it) so quickly out of the box that they have to (a) cancel them and (b) don’t have anything waiting on the bench to the their place. So, in these cases, they schedule repeats of some of their best shows to avoid static hitting the airwaves.

But, I’ve never seen a case where a network actually set encores on a weeknight (albeit Friday) AND have those repeats be of a show that hasn’t aired, no matter how good the trailer is.

Bet those advertisers were lining up to hand over those billions of bucks when they saw that.

The aforementioned show looks pretty good though and made my trailer preview from Sunday. Sleepy Hollow takes Ichabod Crane, puts him to sleep for a couple of centuries and brings him back in the modern era to solve crimes.

Okay, I know. I know. Just watch the trailer, will you?

This isn’t the only scheduling oddity though.Despite only nine hours of legitimate prime-time programming (Sunday’s animation excluded), a full third of them are devoted to Fox’s gameshows, The X-Factor and American Idol (Which are actually the same show: people quite literally singing for their dinner. Spread over like 20 weeks). Wednesday nights feature two consecutive hours of the show itself, while Thursday also receives an hour of the results show.

Side note: These result shows are really f***ing stupid. One hour to read a set of results from the night before? I mean, come on. How is this compelling television? “Hey guys, lets go over the stuff you just watched less than 24 hours ago, and we’ll read you the results of the voting”. Sounds like in high school when they announced the student counsel election results. Except they accomplished this in five minutes over the internal PA system. How this stretches to 12 times that is way beyond my comprehension (and before you bring it up, I’m not going to watch to find out). At least they have this in common: they’re both just popularity contests.

But Fox ain’t done with reality. They also have to have the obligatory cooking show, which seems to be laminated in the Friday at 8pm slot. I seem to remember Kitchen Nightmares, I also think there was one with starting a restaurant and one where people may have actually cooked (which I thought were only relegated to daytime TV, wedged between soap operas). Junior Masterchef seems to continue this lame tradition, with Gordon Ramsey (who anointed this guy master of everything culinary) hosting a show where kids between 8 and 13 cook…ostensibly to win some kind of prize.

Apparently child labor is okay when you point a camera at it (kidding…well, sort of).

Rounding out the new show are two pretty shitty looking comedies (hey, why try to reign in the derision now?). We’ve got Seth McFarlaine (sp? I’m not looking it up) and Seth Green creating a show where two young guys have their Dads move in with them. Brooklyn Nine-West looks like another lame attempt at a cop comedy (though it does have some good people in it) featuring some guy who I think was in Saturday Night Live. Of course the weirdest and goofiest guy is the best detective, so they have to put up with them.

Yeah, that hasn’t been done before.

Returning to the network are 60 minute dramady Bones, which was never that good to start with and has not aged well, and Glee, which is just plain insulting to the intelligence but still has good music. In the comedy area they have The Mindy Project, which I find to be pretty terrible but some people like and New Girl, which I actually enjoy.

Scheduling on Fox is somewhat easier than on most networks given the two hour nights (versus three), so it’s easier to find and develop shows to pair off with each other. Sunday is all animation, Wednesday is all reality, Thursday is half reality singing (X-Factor/American Idol) and half fantasy singing (Glee) and Tuesday features all four of the net’s comedies. So no big imagination stretches there.

The net gets horrible marks though for giving up on Fridays. Bones could have easily fit in that Friday at 9pm slot, while Fox should have developed bother show for launch at Monday at 8pm. Though the net is running shows like Sleepy Hollow and The Following in limited serial format (~16 episodes, no repeats), they have two such shows waiting on the bench along with the successful (for reasons passing understanding) The Following. But they chose not to air any of these, despite the successful counter-programming opportunity (Mondays 8pm to 10pm have ABC and NBC airing game shows while CBS has their laugh-track comedies). Passing on these two shows AND missing the legitimate programming opportunity earns a great big #FAIL for Fox in that department.

Not all is lost for Fox, though. They supposedly have a number of serial shows and limited run series in development, as they seem to be farther ahead in realizing that the mini-series format is the next new/old big thing in broadcast television. They even plan to resurrect Jack Bauer for next summer for a self-contained, limited run, 12 episodes (though don’t think for a minute that if it works they won’t bring him back every couple of years).

Knowing these guys though, they’ll schedule all of their original programming Tuesday mornings at 3am…to make room for the results of the results show for American’s Can’t Sing (the misplaced apostrophe is on purpose).

To check out the full 2013-14 fall television schedule, click here.