In this, the second of a four-part blogtastic series taking a look at this year’s upfronts, we spend some time with FOX, the network behind the greatest television phenomenon of the past decade, “American Idol.” Still far from the top, yet not treading into territory that would make NBC blush just yet, Fox has eclipsed its status as “the network you go to when whatever is on the other three networks stink” by offering such gems as “Idol,” “House,” a Sunday block filled with amazingly popular animated features and, well, “Glee.”
There was actual news that came out of this year’s upfronts (see more on that below), and, if some guy named Ashton didn’t decide to throw his hat into an incredibly overrated CBS sitcom earlier this month, most (if not all) the attention of this year’s meetings season would have been thrusted upon Simon Cowell and his return to the small screen. But alas, “Two-And-A-Half Men” still exists, Charlie Sheen cries somewhere amongst Godesses and the limelight stolen from Cowell will undoubtedly return for 90 minutes on a Wednesday in September.
In addition to the return of the Paula/Simon team that so effortlessly won America’s hearts years ago, the network is rolling out a new series with a somewhat credible actress that hasn’t spent too much time brown-bagging it on a TV screen; a new series that features an actor who knows exactly what it’s like to live and die in chateau Murdoch; a new (yet old) animated program from the guy who pretty much owns FOX’s animated village; and Cops. A lot of cops, actually.
So, here we go. Three talking points about FOX and what we can expect from the network once the leaves begin to fall and the weather turns cold. For those who missed NBC, take a look at the post that appeared prior to this one. ABC and CBS will all have their turns in the coming days. Enjoy.
FOX TALKING POINTS
1. Unless you have been living under a rock (or you are some type of special phenomenon that is only featured on “Fringe”), you probably know by now that FOX cancelled “America’s Most Wanted.” The show was on FOX’s schedule since April of 1988, and it was the network’s longest running regular series (even more so than “The Simpsons,” which was only seen as part of “The Tracey Ullman Show” before becoming its own entity). “AMW” was responsible for the capture of 1,151 fugitives, and what made it believable as a show that was out to “get the bad guy” was that its host, John Walsh, was an actual real-life advocate for such things after his own son was abducted and killed in 1981. It’s sad. Really, it is. And I didn’t even really watch it. Still, there just seems to be so much history surrounding the show, a history that has more to do with good in the world than it does who can sing a pop song. FOX said it will run four, two-hour specials of the program next season, but so what? It’s like canceling “Saved By The Bell” and then giving us a wedding faux-movie in primetime months later. The act itself just feels patronizing. We all know the move had more to do with cutting costs than anything else, but still, couldn’t the network heads have found a better way to save money? Come on, now. Do we really need another season of people stumbling around a kitchen, doing their best to try and please some chef with an accent? Not only was “America’s Most Wanted” a show that filled a Saturday night time slot no one watches anyway, but it was also a show that provided somewhat of a service to those who needed it. Whatever happened to substance over style? Wait. Nevermind. This is television.
2. The X Factor. And that’s about it. Simon returns with the most anticipated talent contest in the history of anticipated talent contests. He’s bringing Paula back with him, promising us all that even if we don’t like the show, we can all learn how to flirt with a drunk woman by watching those two interact. The show will begin in the “Idol” slot before being replaced by the actual “Idol” itself midseason. So yes, that means you must be sure not to join any extracurricular night groups that meet on Wednesdays and Thursdays come September. Wednesday’s airing will be followed by the new “I Hate My Teenage Daughter,” a show that looks like it can’t get canceled quick enough, despite its cast (hey, Jamie Presley can be funny … sometimes). My biggest question is simple: Will this work? For some odd reason, I have an inclination that there’s a chance Simon’s return won’t be nearly as grand as people think it’s going to be. Why? Because the same people who think it might be grand are the same people who promised us “American Idol” wouldn’t last through March without him, and not only did the show survive, but it’s thriving. Nobody knows who Cheryl Cole is in America (unless if you consistently read sports blogs, in which case, you probably just think she’s “that soccer dude’s hot ex-wife”). And L.A. Reid? Really?! Man, I thought L.A. Reid was better than that. Still — people will more than likely fall in love with it. Still — it will more than likely win the ratings wars throughout the week. And still — Paula and Simon will more than likely give us the impression they are somehow secretly married.
3. Steven Spielberg. Keifer Sutherland. Zooey Deschanel. The Flintstones. These are all things that will be making their way onto your television set at some point if you happen to leave the TV on FOX while dosing off to sleep, still wondering who Cheryl Cole is. The director’s “Terra Nova” is a day late and (maybe) a dollar short. It was supposed to come to our televisions last year, though for some reason, we will be graced with its “250 special effects in the first two hours alone” this year. Sutherland is back on the network that gave him a second career with “Touch,” a show that everyone seems to say is going to be more drama than action. That said, there has been no pilot, and the show doesn’t even have a time slot. “New Girl” stars Deschanel in a “why would Zooey Deschanel do this” venture that features a girl moving in with a bunch of guys after a bad breakup. It’s supposed to be funny, though I’d much rather prefer a new She & Him album or a sequel to “(500) Days Of Summer.” And Seth MacFarlane is going to remake “The Flintstones,” though it won’t air until 2013. In with the new, out with the old as “Running Wilde,” “Lie To Me” and “Human Target” were among the shows FOX gave up on. And with any luck, the midseason cartoon take on “Napoleon Dynamite” that the network is planning to add to its rotation will receive the same fate by the time we do this again next year. Goodness, what a bad idea.