Like NBC, Fox didn’t pick up as many pilots this year. They did, however, pick up a pretty large percentage of those pilots to series, particularly on the drama side. Does that mean they’re giving up on comedy? Not really. It just means they’d prefer renewing the known (Last Man on Earth, New Girl) to testing out a lot of unknowns. That might help in the short-term, but long-term could present some problems. Regardless, Fox seems to have a plan and be executing on it.
Fox only picked up two new comedies. Ghosted, which premieres at the start of the Fall, will be sandwiched between The Simpsons and Family Guy on Sundays. This show was pretty much a lock to go to series from the jump, with a solid cast and marketing-friendly hook. It’s interesting they’re not using The Last Man on Earth as a lead-in, but I guess they want to break up animation and live-action. I’m not sure I 100% agree with that approach.
LA to Vegas will either be an unlikely success or a noble failure. It really backed itself into a corner, premise-wise, so we’ll see if the writers’ room can spin some gold. Once this had Steve Levitan on board directing, you figured this pilot would be in the good graces of Fox execs. This will definitely be a series I keep an eye on.
I also would be remiss in not mentioning my disappointment Linda from HR won’t be getting a second episode. Perhaps a cable station could pick it up? It never quite felt right at Fox as a half-hour program.
Fox leaned heavily into drama pick-ups this year. Maybe that’s because they plan on replacing some of the aging comedies with dramas going forward? Or maybe they thought this crop of pilots came in strongly? Regardless, they only have room on their fall schedule for two of the freshman shows — The Gifted and Orville.
The Gifted makes sense from a brand perspective. The Orville is a more curious choice. Though we know Fox has a strong relationship with Seth MacFarlane, an hour-long comedy with him in front of the camera is a bit of a gamble. It could perhaps garner younger demographic viewers, but there’s also the risk of reception akin to Million Ways to Die in the West.
The Resident and 911, more conventional looking dramas, are on the bench until midseason. They’re a little less splashy and marketable than The Gifted or Orville, which might account for that later start. Ashish’s favorite, Behind Enemy Lines, was unfortunately not picked up at all.
One of the bigger themes at Fox this year is leaning on powerful writers/producers. So it’s not really a surprise to see pick-ups with names attached like Ryan Murphy, Steve Levitan, Matt Nix, and Amy Holden Jones. It’s very hard to cut through the noise to garner eyeballs in the network world, and it seems like their fall premieres are reserved for the splashiest shows. Hopefully, this won’t be to the detriment of long-term quality at the network.
Andrew Woodberry | Contributor