We’re 4 weeks away from the broadcast nets revealing their Fall schedules. In the next few days (or over the next week), I’d like to take a look at each of the big 4 networks and examine where they need help, attempt to dissect the status of each network’s bubble shows and attempt to make an educated guess at what each net might pick up. I stress this a guess, because no matter the pedigree in front or behind the camera, unless I have seen the actual pilots (which I obviously won’t be, before the upfronts), barely any show is guaranteed to make the schedule. There have been big stars and big showrunners attached to pilots every year and in most cases, everyone assumes they are a lock to make the sked, only to be passed on. In some cases the pilots just didn’t turn out well and in some cases, the networks for whatever reason (cost is sometimes a factor) chose to move on. So let me reiterate. THIS IS A GUESS (although I hope it’s an educated one). I expect to be wrong in some or many places for sure.
I’d like to tackle each of the big four nets from what I deem as easiest (FOX) to hardest (NBC).
The reason why FOX is the easiest to examine is because a) they have fewer hours to fill and b) 3.5-4 new hours are already penciled in. Assuming THE X FACTOR follows IDOLs model, there will be 2 hours/90 minute performance shows followed the next night by a 1 hour results show. Terra Nova at this point is already penciled in. Yes it’s possible FOX could change its mind about this series before production resumes in June, but currently according to FOX it’s on the fall schedule.
Lie To Me
The Chicago Code
My Prediction: Human Target and Lie To Me are done. They were both modest players. The problem, is they both had 2 seasons, didn’t increase at all and FOX just doesn’t have the room. If they give a shot to any show it will be to The Chicago Code. It’s the most acclaimed of the 3, it has only had 1 season, its ratings are consistent (and in today’s climate not terribly low). Also Shawn Ryan is the creator and showrunner and will remain showrunner if it returns despite new deal with Sony.
Breaking In could go either way. My guess is, it doesn’t return. Outside shot of getting 6 ep order for midseason.
How I think the schedule could shake out:
House – I they will iron out contracts very soon. The show got a 3.2 last night at 8p. No other 7 year old drama can do better during DST these days. Still a consistent hit.
I think one of Fox’s most promising new dramas will be JJ Abrams Alcatraz. I could see FOX giving it the post House slot at 9p.
I see Glee and Raising Hope remaining on the night, but I think FOX will use the post Glee slot for a new comedy at 9p and will slide Raising Hope to 9:30. My guess for the new sitcom: Rob Thomas’s Little In Common. It has a Modern Family vibe to it. It’s about 3 families of different ethnicities and different parenting styles, united through their kids’ soccer league. Great cast in front of the camera. Great people behind the camera. Seems like a mass appeal show and will hold on to a nice chunk of Glee lead in.
I am assuming the X FACTOR performance show will be 2 hours to start and then shrink to 90 minutes. My guess for the new sitcom when the show shrinks is Iceland. It’s one of the best reviewed comedy scripts of the season with lots of poignancy as well. It has fan and critical favorite Zach Gilford and Kerry Bishe (Scrubs 2.0). I could also see FOX slotting this Tues at 9 since it’s a bit younger skewing and airing the more mass appeal Little In Common Wed at 9:30 (Bonus for LIC Wed at 9:30 is it could pick up some people that just watched Modern Family on ABC).
X Factor results show at 8 leading into I am guessing, Terra Nova. I am assuming X FACTOR will be as big as (or bigger than) IDOL. Yes, I know that nothing is a guarantee but I’m assuming it is it will provide a bigger lead in than House and my guess is that Terra Nova will need the bigger lead in over Alcatraz. Basically I think Terra Nova might be the bigger question mark and if it flops, it will hurt FOX less on Thursday than on Monday since their 8p should be much higher on Thu.
Notice I haven’t mentioned Bones yet. I think there are lots of questions with Bones. Hart Hanson acknowledged as such yesterday (and I’m not even referring to contract negotiations to pick up the show for next season, or two). Emily Deschanel is pregnant and once contracts are signed, they might have to either do eps without her, or do less eps. This question mark as well as FOX having few slots to launch new shows makes me think a couple of things could happen and they involve Friday.
I could see FOX finally moving Bones to Friday to lead in to Fringe
I could see Fox holding both shows until midseason, regardless of what happens with Bones. I wouldn’t be surprised to see FOX delay Fringe to Jan and run it consecutively for 22 eps. NO RERUNS. I think we all assume next season will be Fringe’s last season and with 88 eps they will be sold into syndication. Not bad for a cult sci fi show.
FOX may want to hold Bones for late fall or midseason, What if both new dramas flop? Last year when Lone Star flopped, they substituted Lie To Me which was an okay improvement. Bones would be a much bigger one. A nice insurance policy to have.
If Fox delays one or both of these dramas til midseason I could see this being their Friday night:
8p Kitchen Nightmares
9p The Chicago Code
Obviously Saturday should be unchanged and Sunday will be some version of their successful Animation Domination with their 8p and 9p anchors remaining unchanged.
Possible Midseason Shows Pickups:
I see two more dramas:
The Buzzed about Locke and Key
And Touch. Once Kiefer Sutherland singed on and the fact that many think this Tim Kring script is stellar, makes me think it’s a lock for midseason (pilot shoots this summer after Kiefer wraps up on Broadway). I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them delay it til next fall if they are all booked up all season.
I could see them picking up Peter Tolan’s Council of Dads and multi cam I Hate My Teenage Daughter
Bones spinoff The Finder. Should have more evidence after ep airs this week.
UPDATE: Fri 4/22 – I realized I excluded 2 potential FOX pickups starring big name movie stars which I should have included even before the buzz on both picked up (which it has). The Liz Merriwether sitcom, The New Girl, that stars Zooey Deschanel is likely to turn up on the schedule somewhere. The Antoine Fuqua directed Exit Strategy, starring his Training Day star, Ethan Hawke will likely be picked up as well. I only see 2 dramas in Fall and one is already Terra Nova (for now) and I am guessing Alcatraz is the other, so maybe ES for midseason.
For another take, check out Wesley Ambrecht’s excellently written and very smart take on FOX: armchair-scheduling-fox-fall-2011
NEXT UP: CBS