“Last Man Standing” might be returning next season — not to ABC, but rather to FOX. First of all, I would not consider this a reboot, but rather a salvage since it has only been off the air for a season. It’s an interesting move on several levels.
The most obvious (whether accurate or not) explanation is that this is a response to the success of “Roseanne” and an attempt to tap into the national mood, which many believe is not being reflected in the “cocooned” world of Hollywood. Like Roseanne Barr, Tim Allen’s political views are such that he accused ABC of cancelling the show, in part, as a reflection of those views. ABC’s position was that the show had become too expensive: The network was paying a license fee to 20th Century Fox TV with no ability to benefit from the backend. ABC was operating the show at a loss.
I guess there is a possibility that the fans of “Roseanne” would embrace “LMS,” and on FOX, you have the added benefit of using the news channel to help promote the show to what they feel would be the target audience. I honestly have never been a fan of either show, but I would bet that they are not as similar as those making this decision would think.
What is also interesting about this revival is that “LMS” would go from ABC to the sister network (FOX) of the studio (20th Century Fox) producing the show at a moment when that studio is poised to become part of the Disney empire within the next year and a half. This would leave FBC in the same position that ABC (which would then be the sister network of 20th) was in when they felt the show was too expensive to return. This all boggles the mind.
Putting all that aside, you have to assume that FOX did not have a very promising comedy development year if they needed to look to a six-year-old multi-cam family comedy, a genre that they have avoided for years. There’s really nothing on the network that can pair up with this show. My guess is if this happens, it would be for midseason, unless they are desperate and need to get it on in the fall. If it’s midseason FOX at least can look for some possible companion shows.
Finally, there is not a great history of shows jumping networks and succeeding. In this case, we are also talking about a show that has been off the air for a year and had a successful but quiet life on Friday night. “Taxi” lasted one season on NBC, as did “The Jeff Foxworthy Show.”
I looked at the list of scripted shows that switched networks, and they generally last a season. The one major exception is “JAG,” which spent one season on NBC before moving to CBS and enjoying a long run, then morphing into the “NCIS” franchise.
I wish FOX well with this possible decision, but it feels like there is far more downside than upside. Why a show on a network (ABC) that thrives on family comedies would work on a network (FOX) that prides itself with edgy single-camera fare is a mystery to me. I guess we’ll find out.