It’s that time of year again! The Up Fronts, when the TV networks show off their new series, announce their revised schedules, and schmooze with advertisers to back them. For the Fox TV schedule, this includes several new comedies and dramas, and a revival of the miniseries. The complete schedule was announced on May 13th, but Fox has already started promoting many of their new programs.
The dramas ordered for the Fox TV schedule are primarily variations on the crime drama. This may or may not have anything to do with their longest running series, COPS moving to Spike TV.
Gang Related, as described by Fox boss Kevin Reilly is like “Miami Vice for a new generation.” It’s the story of a gang member who is ordered to infiltrate the San Francisco police department and earn a place on the Gang Task Force, but it becomes tough for him to balance conflicting loyalties. Executive Producer Brian Grazer is a big part of this production, and it star Terry O’Quinn (Lost, Alias), Jay Hernandez, and rapper RZA. I’m not convinced this is the kind of story that can be sustained in an episodic format. This logline seems to be better suited for a feature film.
For a bit of a twist on the cop partners show, there is J.J. Abrams’ Almost Human about the near future LAPD, where humans are partnered up with highly evolved androids. Written by J.H. Wyman (Fringe) and starring the chameleonic Karl Urban, among many other talents, this strikes me as more or less a retelling of the old Alien Nation TV series.
One of the most anticipated new series is Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod Crane has been resurrected to help the sheriff of the eponymous village solve an ancient mystery tearing the town apart. The concept is a bit all over the place on paper and seems more about trying to cater to every demographic rather than tell a good story. Sexy British leading man? Check. Time traveler kinda like Dr. Who? Indeed. Book-of-Revelations revelations? Yup. Bloody trail of a serial killer? Laid out. Battling bands of supernatural beings? Armed and ready. Still, it could be a great night in front of the telly. But I’m reserving judgment here.
In The Wild Blue, the creators of Justified and Breaking Bad team up to take us inside the relationships and happenings of a commissioned aircraft carrier. Part Downton Abbey, part Battlestar Galactica with a lot of Carrier, this one seems to me to have the most potential for longevity: fraternizing, characters coming and going as they are assigned and reassigned, the different deployment locations and lots of action with the aircraft.
Finally, Rake stars Greg Kinnear as the brilliant and talented defense attorney whose private life is in complete shambles. It’s based on the Australian series, brought to the U.S. by original creator Peter Duncan. This one could follow the successful transcoding of Wilfred.
American television has a tendency to appropriate well-made British series and try to pass them off as original. Us & Them is the American version of the thoughtful British rom-com series Gavin and Stacey. As a huge fan of the original, which was extremely well-written and performed, I’ll need to be convinced that this is worth my time — particularly since neither of the original creators (James Corden and Ruth Jones) seem to be involved.
Brooklyn Nine Nine stars Adam Samberg of SNL as a police officer working in a remote precinct of the NYPD. Sounds like it might be similar to the Rowan Atkinson comedy series The Thin Blue Line, but early impressions are that this is a good fit for Samberg, and that the cast work well together.
Enlisted is about a combat soldier who is posted to a Florida military base where his ne’er-do-well brothers are also posted. Personally, I’m not sure I completely understand why this concept is supposed to be funny.
Dads is co-produced by Seth MacFarlane and stars Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi as childhood friends whose fathers (Martin Mull and Peter Riegert) “become their roommates.” With such a vague plot description of a well-worn concept, the writing will need to be top notch.
Other New Shows
Speaking of Seth MacFarlane, he has teamed up with the fabulous Neil deGrasse Tyson to revive the iconically poetic and compelling Cosmos. “Billions and billions” of fans of Carl Sagan’s beautiful masterpiece (which you can still see on Netflix) will be dreaming peacefully of space oddities. Also being revived — well, brought back really — is Fox’s former flagship spy thriller 24. Finally, fans can look forward to a Bauer-ful year.
Fox is also bringing back the miniseries — or “limited series,” as we are apparently calling them now. Wayward Pines from M Night Shyamalan is a dramatization of the 1990s O.J. Simpson investigation and trial. I suppose 20 years later (wow, has it really been that long?) can no longer be considered “too soon” to delve into this case again, but since it endlessly played out on live TV at the time, I’m not sure what the appeal of a fictionalized version would be. Barry Levinson’s Billy the Kid seems like a better option, or the announced remake of Shogun.
Animated favorites The Simpsons, Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers and American Dad were all renewed for next season’s Fox TV schedule, but The Cleveland Show is unconfirmed. Returning comedies also include The New Girl, The Mindy Project, and Raising Hope, all with female protagonists.
Dramas we’ll see again are Bones, The Following and Glee, but not Fringe, The Mob Doctor or Touch. Both The X Factor and American Idol will still be around, with the latter getting a full set of new judges as Randy Jackson bids adieu.
Nearly all of the shows on the new Fox TV schedule feature male protagonists. Shows with female leads are critically acclaimed and well received, but it’s boys Fox wants in the ratings, so it’s boys we’re going to see in the lineup — a lot.