Upfront Analysis: Fox throws stuff at a wall

So Fox kinda fell off of a cliff at some point within the last few seasons. American Idol, and Glee faded drastically, The X Factor never was, New Girl can’t hold its own and even The Simpsons and Family Guy have started to edge towards “is it really worth it?” territory.

I don’t say any of this gleefully. In New GirlBrooklyn Nine Nine and Bob’s Burgers, Fox broadcasts three of my favorite shows (and three of the best comedies) on any network. I’d like everything there to be working out, but Fox seems kind of lost and unsure of where to take itself in the near future.

So Fox is kind of doing what they’ve always done in moments of crisis: bet on reality, take chances, and rearrange deck chairs. There’s at least a new half-hour of programming on all six nights Fox broadcasts entertainment shows (Saturdays are for football) and every night is in some way changed from what it was in September. This probably won’t totally work out, but the network may find itself some surprises in the interim.



7 p.m. ET – The OT
7:30 p.m. ET – Bob’s Burgers
8 p.m. ET – The Simpsons
8:30 p.m. ET – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
9 p.m. ET – Family Guy
9:30 p.m. ET – Mulaney

One show in the history of Fox has truly “worked” airing out of The SimpsonsMalcolm in the Middle. Does Brooklyn Nine-Nine stand a chance at being the second? Perhaps. Some love from the Emmys similar to what the show got from the Golden Globes would be useful, and one would think the two series would be fairly compatible, yet it’s almost never worked before.

I am far less certain about Mulaney airing out of Family Guy. Again, it’s a timeslot with a low rate of success throughout Fox history — really, only American Dad has ever worked out of Family Guy. Don’t forget that both The Simpsons and Family Guy have slipped quite a bit in the ratings in recent years.

Overall, this night should be okay, at least until the end of football season. However, Seth McFarlane’s new animated half-hour Bordertown is waiting in the wings at midseason, so one of the two live-action shows (probably Mulaney, let’s face it) could be on thin ice from the start.


8 p.m. ET – Gotham
9 p.m. ET – Sleepy Hollow

Monday’s at 8 p.m. is an oddly good timeslot idea for Gotham… if CBS doesn’t move The Big Bang Theory here during the first half of football season. That’s a big if. If not, however, it faces off against female-skewing reality series (Dancing with the Stars and The Voice) as well as what will likely be a new comedy series on CBS. At 16 episodes, the show will likely run straight through Christmas without reruns.

Meanwhile, how Sleepy Hollow performs could prove very important to Fox. Similarly a limited run series last year (and will be this year), Fox will get to see if it can bounce back, unlike how The Following faded in season two. Incidentally, season three of The Following will probably be here at midseason.


8 p.m. ET – Utopia
9 p.m. ET – New Girl
9:30 p.m. ET – The Mindy Project

Utopia is classic Fox, branding some new reality show as a “social experiment.” A bunch of people get sent to an undeveloped civilization for a year and are asked to build a society. It could work like gangbusters, but it’d way funnier if it were cancelled. (Glee would probably be first off the bench.)


Both New Girl and The Mindy Project struggled mightily this season, and Mindy has a reduced 15-episode order. I imagine Fox sticks with each show for their entire runs, but this might be the last season for both of them. They’re certainly not trending in the right direction, ratings-wise.


8 p.m. ET – Hell’s Kitchen
9 p.m. ET – Red Band Society

Low-risk with Gordon Ramsay yelling at people early, but Red Band Society might have a shot. Octavia Spencer and Dave Annable star in a drama about a pediatric ward. Hey, Modern Family, SVU and Criminal Minds aren’t getting any younger, so why not?



8 p.m. ET – Bones
9 p.m. ET – Gracepoint

This is Fox essentially punting on Thursday until football (yes, I am aware of what I’ve done) is over. Bones will continue to be the punchline for jokes about “who watches that show?” but still do a decent number. Gracepoint is a 10-episode limited run series starring Anna Gunn, David Tennant, Jacki Weaver and Nick Nolte, so any success is more or less a huge bonus.


8 p.m. ET – Masterchef Junior
9 p.m. Et – Utopia

Another punt. Masterchief Junior will do fine, while Utopia will likely depend on whatever appetite viewers have for the Tuesday edition of the program.

Tomorrow: ABC has more hits, but is in basically the same predicament as Fox.

About Steve Lepore

Steve Lepore is a writer for Bloguin and a correspondent for SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.