Thursday, May 25, 2006

Fall Lineup Frenzy 2006 Part IV: FOX

Last season, FOX lost a good chunk of its popular and/or acclaimed comedies (Arrested Development, Malcolm In The Middle, The Bernie Mac Show, That 70's Show). At the same time, it continues to become a great place to find cutting-edge drama (Prison Break, 24, House). American Idol, the only real reality show phenomenon left, keeps FOX near the top of the ratings race and the yearly hiatus that comes with the MLB playoffs still annoys viewers. FOX has more quirks than any of the other networks. What will it do to keep viewers coming back?

(All times are Eastern. New shows are in bold.)


8-9 p.m.: Prison Break
9-10 p.m.: Vanished

From FOX's Press Release:

VANISHED (Mondays, 9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT): SARA (Joanne Kelly, "Whiskey Echo") is the beautiful young wife of prominent Georgia Senator JEFFREY COLLINS (John Allen Nelson, "24"), and she has gone missing. But before the FBI can solve the mystery of where she is, they first need to figure out who she really is. Through the eyes of Senior FBI Agent GRAHAM KELTON (Gale Harold, "Queer as Folk," "Martha Behind Bars"), ambitious reporter JUDY NASH (Rebecca Gayheart, "Nip/Tuck," "Harvard Man") and the distraught members of the Collins family, viewers will journey inside a sensational, mysterious national soap opera. Kelton, working with Agent LIN MEI (Ming-Na, "ER"), uncovers enigmatic clues that suggest Sara's disappearance may be part of a large, sinister conspiracy. Created by Josh Berman ("CSI: Crime Scene Investigation") and directed by executive producer Mimi Leder ("The Peacemaker," "Deep Impact"), VANISHED combines the investigative twists and turns of "CSI," the nonstop pace and tension of FOX's "24" and the scope of "The Da Vinci Code."

PRODUCTION COMPANY: 20th Century Fox Television
CREATED BY: Josh Berman
CAST: Gale Harold as Kelton, John Allen Nelson as Jeffrey, Joanne Kelly as Sara, Rebecca Gayheart as Judy, Margarita Levieva as Marcy, John Patrick Amedori as Max, Chris Egan as Ben, Robert Hoffman as Adam, Ming-Na as Lin Mei

My Thoughts: Prison Break was one of the breakout dramas of last season but it didn't really find a companion show until 24 came back. FOX may have found one in its new drama Vanished. Like Prison Break, it looks to be a serial, high-concept drama that revolves around a singular goal. Hopefully, Vanished won't be so similar in style that viewers tune it out.


8-9 p.m.: Standoff
9-10 p.m.: House

From FOX's Press Release:

STANDOFF (Tuesdays, 8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT - in fall): There's no crisis situation they can't handle ... unless it involves each other. MATT FLANNERY (Ron Livingston, "Sex and the City," "House") and EMILY LEHMAN (Rosemarie DeWitt, "Cinderella Man") are the top-ranked negotiators in the FBI's Crisis Negotiation Unit (CNU). They're trained to talk their way through volatile situations. They're experts at knowing what makes other people tick. They're also sleeping together a secret that they agreed to keep to themselves, until Matt reveals it to the entire world during a tense hostage standoff. The public revelation causes friction between Matt, who relies on gut instinct, and Emily, an academic who analyzes every move. Their relationship also gets them into major trouble with their boss CHERYL CARRERA (Gina Torres, "Alias," "Firefly," "24"), head of the Los Angeles CNU, and raises eyebrows among their CNU colleagues, including intelligence officer LIA MATHERS (Raquel Alessi, "Ghost Rider"). While Matt and Emily really should be split up for being romantically involved, they're too valuable as a team. STANDOFF combines the relationship banter of audience favorites like "Moonlighting" with the adrenaline-paced suspense of hits like "24." The series advances a fundamental idea: that in life and in love, "Everything is a negotiation."

PRODUCTION COMPANY: 20th Century Fox Television
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Craig Silverstein, Tim Story
WRITER: Craig Silverstein
CAST: Ron Livingston as Matt, Rosemarie DeWitt as Emily, Michael Cudlitz as Frank, Gina Torres as Cheryl, Raquel Alessi as Lia

My Thoughts: Standoff has an intriguing premise. Usually, whenever there are male/female duos in working relationships on TV, any romantic relationship has to develop. Also, when a romantic relationship between the main duo does happen, it usually hurts the show. What makes Standoff intriguing is that the romantic portion of the relationship is already in progress. That could make for a fun show but it's going to be tricky to pull off. If it doesn't hit the right note from the beginning, it will not last long.


8-9 p.m.: Bones
9-10 p.m.: Justice

From FOX's Press Release:

JUSTICE (Wednesdays, 9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT - in fall): From Jerry Bruckheimer, executive producer of "CSI" and "Without a Trace," comes JUSTICE, an unflinching, behind-the-scenes look at the way high-profile cases are tried in the media age. JUSTICE features a dream team of four lawyers from disparate backgrounds who join forces to tackle the most controversial and newsworthy cases. With their unique skill sets and the power of forensic law, this formidable team becomes indispensable to the law firm of Turk, Nicholson, Tuller & Gaines. RON TURK (Victor Garber, "Alias," "Titanic") is the face seen on every media talk show in the country - and he wants it that way. He's great at landing a client, spinning a case and getting his way, but juries hate him. Standing behind Ron - as far away from the cameras as possible - is TOM NICHOLSON (Kerr Smith, "Charmed"), the heart of the firm. Tom is a brilliant litigator whose Everyman, earnest manner makes him Ron's alter ego. LUTHER GAINES (Eamonn Walker, "Oz"), famous in the African-American community, is well-connected, politically motivated and in possession of an uncanny ability to take a step back and assess the merits of a case from both the prosecution's and the defense's perspectives. ALDEN TULLER (Rebecca Mader, "The Devil Wears Prada") is a young, ambitious and brilliant clinician who approaches each case analytically, uncovering ways to destroy expert witnesses on cross-examination.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Warner Bros. Television, Jerry Bruckheimer Television
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, Jonathan Shapiro
TELEPLAY BY: Tyler Bensinger, Jonathan Shapiro
CAST: Victor Garber as Ron, Kerr Smith as Tom, Eamonn Walker as Luther, Rebecca Mader as Alden

My Thoughts: I don't know if it's just me, but Justice seems like an incredibly run-of-the-mill legal drama. Nothing about it immediately pops out or seems interesting. To be fair, this show may be able to transcend its premise with stellar acting and writing. It's going to take at least that for it to be able to survive against ABC's Lost.


8:-8:30 p.m.: 'Til Death
8-9 p.m.: Happy Hour
9-10 p.m.: The OC

From FOX's Press Release:

'TIL DEATH (Thursdays, 8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT): 'TIL DEATH is a comedy about middle-aged EDDIE (Brad Garrett, "Everybody Loves Raymond") and JOY STAMM (Joely Fisher, "Desperate Housewives"), who are on day 8,743 of their marriage and have the battle scars to prove it. Their new next-door neighbors are young newlyweds STEPH (Kat Foster, "Law & Order") and JEFF WOODCOCK (Eddie Kaye Thomas, "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle") - idealistic, passionate, adorable and married for all of 12 days. It's a show about new marriage versus old marriage, about keeping the romance alive - or at least staying together so you have someone to drive you to the hospital for your operations. Eddie is a cynical realist who considers himself an expert on most topics. A high school history teacher, he's learned well the lessons of history and applies the basic principles to his marriage: all fights are about power, land and resources - and women love to kill fun. A veteran of the marriage wars, Eddie freely gives his advice to the younger, idealistic Jeff, who's the new Vice Principal at Eddie's school. Of course, Eddie's little secret all along is that he loves Joy more than anything. And however brash and sardonic Joy herself appears, she loves Eddie right back.

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Sony Pictures Television
CAST: Brad Garrett as Eddie, Joely Fisher as Joy, Eddie Kaye Thomas as Jeff, Kat Foster as Steph

HAPPY HOUR (Thursdays, 8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT): Straight arrow HENRY BECKMAN (John Sloan, "The OH in Ohio") had it all: a great job, a perfect girlfriend and a sweet apartment. He was a big fish in the small pond of Amsterdam, Missouri. And then he let HEATHER (Brooke D'Orsay, "King's Ransom") talk him into moving to Chicago to work in her family business, where it all went wrong. In the space of one morning, Henry gets dumped by Heather, learns he can no longer work for Heather's uncle, and gets kicked out of their apartment. It's in this vulnerable state that he meets his new roommate, a vain, flashy, loveable rogue named LARRY CONE (Lex Medlin, "Still Standing"). Larry is a modern-day Dean Martin who is looking for a new protege to teach the wisdom of staying single and enjoying the good life. Larry's last roommate and best friend, BRAD (Nat Faxon, "Joey"), has gotten engaged to the shrew TINA (Jamie Denbo, "Must Love Dogs"), a cold and controlling fiance who's immune to Larry's considerable charm. Under Larry's tutelage, Henry begins to rebuild his life and goes to work for Larry's childhood friend AMANDA (Beth Lacke, "The Rest of Your Life"), a beautiful mess who's unsuccessfully trying to emulate her perfect ideal of womanhood, Kelly Ripa. Will Henry manage to hold onto his traditional values and remain a hopeless romantic? Or will Larry indeed "build a better Brad"?

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Warner Bros. Television, Werner-Gold-Miller
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Jackie Filgo, Jeff Filgo, Tom Werner, Eric Gold, Jimmy Miller
WRITERS: Jackie Filgo, Jeff Filgo
DIRECTOR: Andy Ackerman
CAST: John Sloan as Henry, Lex Medlin as Larry, Nat Faxon as Brad, Jamie Denbo as Tina, Beth Lacke as Amanda, Brooke D'Orsay as Heather

My Thoughts: Thursday brings us FOX's only new comedies to premiere in the fall. Of the two, 'Til Death holds the most promise. It features the return of Emmy-award winner Brad Garrett to network TV comedy. With a capable supporting cast around him, this show could be a winner for FOX. Happy Hour has an unusual premise, but if there's one thing that FOX has traditionally excelled at it is off-kilter comedy. The OC made a big move in [spoiler alert] killing off a major cast member at the end of last season. With that and other major changes coming up in the next season, the show may be a little better prepared to compete with ABC's Grey's Anatomy.


8-9 p.m.: Nanny 911
9-10 p.m.: Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy

My Thoughts: Fridays have not been good to FOX for the past few seasons. In fact, it's almost a kiss of death. Whenever shows have been moved there, they have not lasted long. Boston Public, The Bernie Mac Show, and Malcolm In The Middle all struggled on this night and new dramas that have aired there have failed. Nanny 911 and Trading Spouses are reliable shows that draw decent but unspectacular ratings. Airing them on this night (instead of another good scripted show that would likely bite the dust) is a good idea.


8-8:30 p.m.: Cops
8:30-9 p.m.: Cops
9-10 p.m.: America's Most Wanted: America Strikes Back

My Thoughts: With Saturday being a night that the other networks pretty much give up on (The CW doesn't even have programming scheduled on that night), there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to change this tried-and-true lineup.


7-7:30 p.m.: Football Overrun (Comedy Encores)
7:30-8 p.m.: Football Overrun (Comedy Encores)
8-8:30 p.m.: The Simpsons
8:30-9 p.m.: American Dad
9-9:30 p.m.: Family Guy
9:30-10 p.m.: The War At Home

My Thoughts: This is a pretty stable lineup, with only American Dad and The War At Home switching places. I'm glad that FOX finally decided to not schedule anything new on Sundays before 8 p.m. during the football season. It has been incredibly annoying over the years to have new episodes of King Of The Hill and other shows pre-empted and then not shown in their entirety (KOTH returns in January, by the way). Moving American Dad to the post-Simpsons slot may have been done to bolster the show a bit. The War At Home has done a lot better than I expected it would and it may do even better following Family Guy. However, the ratings of all these shows might dip now that more NFL football is airing against them on NBC. FOX may not be able to really rely on football as a lead-in anymore.

Overall: FOX has kept things pretty stable for the fall. The shows that have been moved around haven't been moved much and like CBS, there are relatively few new shows. For a network that has often annoyed TV fans by moving shows frequently, stability is certainly welcome. Although this network is facing stiffer competition from the other networks (especially on Thursday and Sunday), this lineup should serve FOX well until January, which is when it reinvents itself for American Idol.

Coming Up Next: The CW

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