I have to say right up top that I scheduled FOX from 2000 through 2012, and I still have a lot of friends over there and wish them all the best. Having said that, I have to be honest, I don’t get their schedule. There is no excitement or showmanship to it.
Let me start with the positives.
All the new product comes from their studio, which is smart and the way to go. I was advocating this when I was still there and do not understand how paying a license fee to an outside supplier makes sense in the current environment. Having said that, four of the five weekday nights start off with a property not owned by the studio.
FOX adheres to the Masked Rule of trying not to exceed two and a half hours of new product and, like NBC, some of the new stuff is pre-sold (“The Gifted,” a Marvel TV show) or comes from a brand (Seth MacFarlane’s “The Orville”).
Well, those are two positives.
FOX tries to lead off each night with something established, but that means moving something new into the 8 p.m. slot Monday-Thursday.
In my opinion “Empire” should have moved to 8 in Season 2. It’s now half of what it was last season, so the benefit as a lead-in, even in this untethered world, has diminished significantly. “Lethal Weapon” will not have the “Empire” draft and leads into two comedies. Monday was working, but I understand wanting to pair “The Gifted” with something compatible. Still, why not just leave “Gotham” on Monday? Seems like one move too many.
What is also sort of bizarre is that the three new shows are all mutant/aliens stuff. Two of the three are comedies? None of them feel like they have broad appeal, and they all feel like they will skew more male than your average show. None of them feel like they are going for heart. This has been an ongoing issue for me with much of FOX development. They continue to think there’s a FOX brand when the biggest successes on the network have all been broad and female-skewing.
What is also surprising is that there appears to be no desire by FOX to expand its animation portfolio, and they continue to do everything possible not to take “Bob’s Burgers” to the next level. It is a far superior show to either of the live-action comedies on the night.
Unlike the other networks, FOX enters the season without a big reality competition show, and that’s an issue — a big issue in my opinion. They eat up hours on the schedule and they generally perform above most scripted shows.
I’ll stop now. FOX needs to focus on more showmanship and excitement and paint a little more outside of the traditional FOX lines. Playing it safe at this stage is not a good thing.