Monday, May 16, 2016

FOX Upfronts 2016-17

FOX logo(Writer’s Note: I’m falling behind on doing these upfront reports. A big part of it is that I seem to have limited time to do the actual writing during the daytime – it’s may and among other things I garden – which means that I write when I’m able to find time. To catch up I’m probably going to hold off on the ABC shows until CBS and The CW do their announcements. Which in some ways is a bit of a pity because ABC actually has some shows I’m quite interested in this year.)

Fox is traditionally the second network to present its line-up for the new season. They also have a different programming philosophy. Unlike NBC they have carefully laid out plans of when midseason shows will appear and plan to use hiatuses to air all of the shows that they pick up for the year. Thus, FOX will have the same number of new series debuting in the Fall as NBC (but because they don’t offer nighttime football they have one extra night to play with) but probably more new series overall.

FOX really seems to be pushing two things with their new shows: remakes of older shows (24 Legacy, Prison Break) and movies (Lethal Weapon, The Exorcist), and big name stars (Oscar winners Geena Davis, Richard Dreyfuss and Helen Hunt, and Oscar nominee Queen Latifah

American Idol, Bordertown, Cooper Barrett’s Guide To Surviving Life, Grandfathered, The Grinder, Minority Report, Second Chance

Bob’s Burgers, Bones, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Empire, Family Guy, Gotham, Hell’s Kitchen, The Last Man On Earth, Lucifer, New Girl, Rosewood, Scream Queens, Sleepy Hollow, The Simpsons 

New Shows
24: Legacy, A.P.B., The Exorcist, Lethal Weapon, Making History, The Mick, Pitch, Shots Fired, Son of Zorn, Star, Prison Break

Fall Schedule By Day (New Series in Caps)

8-9 p.m. Gotham / 24 LEGACY / Gotham
9-10 p.m. Lucifer / A.P.B. / Lucifer

8-8:30 p.m. Brooklyn Nine-Nine / New Girl/ Brooklyn Nine-Nine
8:30-9 p.m. New Girl / THE MICK
9-10 p.m. Scream Queens / KICKING AND SCREAMING / PITCH

9-10 p.m. Empire / STAR / Empire

8-9 p.m. Rosewood (new day and time)
9-10 p.m. Bones (new time) / PRISON BREAK

8-9 p.m. Hell’s Kitchen / Master Chef Junior
9-10 p.m. THE EXORCIST / Sleepy Hollow

7-7:30 p.m. NFL On Fox
7:30-8 p.m. The OT / Bob’s Burgers
8-8:30 p.m. The Simpsons
9-9:30 p.m. Family Guy
9:30-10 p.m. Last Man on Earth

24: Legacy is 24 without Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland has a show on ABC but is serving as an Executive Producer on this version of the show). Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins) is an ex-Army Ranger who has returned to America from a mission for a revived CTU. Trouble follows him and he has to reach out to former CTU head Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto) to help him prevent what might be the biggest terrorist attack on US soil.

A.P.B.: When a the mentor and best friend of tech billionaire Gideon Reeves (Justin Kirk) is murdered and the precinct where the killing happened is too hit by budget cuts to investigate the crime, he effectively buys the precinct. Equipping the precinct with the latest in high-tech gadgetry, including a phone app called A.P.B., Reeves sets out to show what can be done with a privatized police force.

In The Exorcist Geena Davis plays Angela Rance, a woman who is convinced that her home is housing a demon since her eldest daughter returned home from college. Alonso Herrera plays Father Tomas, her parish priest to whom she turns for help, and Ben Daniels is Father Marcus, the priest to whom he turns for help.

Lethal Weapon is based on the movies of the same name, starring Damon Wayans as Roger Murtagh and Clayne Crawford as Martin Riggs. I think that’s all that really needs to be said.

The premise of the new comedy Making History is that a nerdy college science professor (Adam Pally) develops a time machine (in a large gym bag) that allows them to travel back in time to 1775. Unfortuntely his presence there (where he’s dating Paul Revere’s daughter) seems to be interfering with the events leading to the American Revolution. In order to set things right, he gets one of the university’s history professors (Yassir Lester) to help set things right. Hilarity – and ham – ensues, (the latter part of that is a sample of what the writers find funny in this).

In The Mick, Kaitlin Olson plays Mackenzie, known as “Mickey.” She’s a two bit hustler who actively avoids responsibility. She suddenly finds herself forced to take responsibility when her estranged sister and billionaire brother-in-law flee the country to avoid going to prison for tax evasion. They leave Mickey with their three kids. Motherhood was never in her plans but she has to transform these spoiled rich kids into  well-adjusted, hard working, decent members of society. Which is hard since she herself has never been any of these things.

In Pitch Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) is suddenly propelled into the spotlight when the San Diego Padres sign her as the first woman to play major league baseball. to make a success of her career she not only has to perform but she has to win over her new team mates, many of whom don’t want to see a woman in professional baseball. She has her supporters, including catcher Mike Lawson (Mark-Paul Gosselaar, and her agent Amelia Slater (Ali Larter).

Shots Fired takes a look at one of the major issues of our times. When a white college student is shot to death by an apparently racist black police officer, a pair of Justice Department investigators are sent to a small North Carolina town. What Ashe Akino (Sanaa Lathan) and Preston Terry (Stephan James), both of whom are African-American, discover is the neglected murder of a Black teen, and tensions that are on the verge of igniting. They begin to suspect a cover-up that may go as high as the state’s governor played by Helen Hunt.

Son of Zorn may be the ultimate fish-out-of-water comedy. Zorn (voiced by Jason Sudekis) comes from an island in the South Pacific where everyone is an animated character. He comes to Orange County, California to reconnect with his ex-wife Edie and estranged teenage son Alangulon, who are flesh and blood (Cheryl Hines and Johnny Pemberton respectively). Complicating matters is that Zorn is not only an animated character, he’s also a barbarian warrior. Nevertheless, to reconnect with his son he’s willing to settle down rent an apartment and get a job in the “exciting field of industrial soap sales.”

Star is a new series from the creator of Empire, Lee Daniels. Like Empire it is set in the music industry but is about young artists looking for their big break. Star (Jude Demorest), her sister Simone (Brittany O’Grady), and “Instagram bestie” Alexandra (Ryan Destiny) journey to Atlanta to make it in the music industry as a girl group. They are taken under the wing of beauty salon owner Carlotta (Queen Latifah), who had her own dreams of stardom shattered. She doesn’t approve of the girls’ desire to make it in the music industry, but she’ll stand by them.

Prison Break is back again as a limited series with original stars Wentworth Miller and Domenic Purcell (fresh off their time on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash). When Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callis) discovers that Michael Scofield might still be alive she enlists the help of his brother Lincoln Burrows and several of the Fox River Prison escapees to rescue him from a prison break in another country.

In my opinion, based on watching the trailers tht FOX has put online, there seem to be a few good things in the network’s new season line-up along with some shows that I don’t really understand the need for. And then there are some shows that I can’t understand why anyone would want to watch. Those will probably be big hits.

Does anyone really need to see new versions of Lethal Weapon or The Exorcist? At the end of the 2015-16 season we saw CBS try to do a TV version of Rush Hour. It didn’t work and as far as I can see it didn’t work because there was no demand for seeing the concept revived with a TV budget and without the original stars. I really don’t think the Lethal Weapon remake will be successful and I have my doubts about The Exorcist as well. Of the two TV series revivals, I think 24: Legacy at least has some potential without Kiefer Sutherland. On the other hand I simply don’t see the need for the Prison Break sequel. We had closure with the original series; why revisit it.

I’m dubious about two of FOX’s new comedies, Son Of  Zorn and Making History. The former is a colossal gimmick that I found vaguely funny in the trailer while the latter reminds me of the sort of show that the old UPN network would put on in their Homeboys From Outer Space period. Of the two I think Son of Zorn might find a way to succeed in the ratings (so with my track record that mean’s they’ll both be huge hits). I’m also not sure about A.P.B. The concept is interesting but it might be a touch on the futuristic side and more than a little bit hard to believe. That said I thought the little bit I saw was fun. My problem is that the show might garner the sort of reaction that Almost Human did a few years ago. Or Minority Report did this past season.

The shows that I think have promise (besides 24: Legacy) are Pitch, Shots Fired, Star, and surprisingly The Mick. Pitch want’s to be Jackie Robinson’s story with a woman instead of a minority male, but if it’s done right could be involving even if the premise is hard to swallow. Star is a perfect fit to take over Empire’s time slot and I think that the fact that it is a personal drama rather than the sometimes over the top soap opera tendencies of Empire (come on admit that Empire reminds you just a little of Dallas) is a mark in it’s favour as far as I’m concerned. The strength of Shots Fired should be apparent to anyone watching the trailer. FOX is taking on a serious issue and is doing a serious job with it. Finally, the trailer for The Mick was a genuine surprise for me. I liked the lead character and I thought they got the kids right (and the Hispanic maid was a hoot). Of course, when I think about it I am struck by a superficial resemblance to the concept for The Nanny (minus the romantic entanglement in that show) but then I loved The Nanny.

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