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FOX Upfront Roundup

FOX has exactly 16 shows to work with for the next season before 20th Century Fox is acquired, and they no longer own a single one of their shows. I start with this because it informs pretty much everything they did this year before it becomes NewFox. Their choice to stick with comedies in the fall makes sense. They were the only network to stay steady in the 18-49 demo from Fall ’16 to Fall ’17. Unlike the others, it had no real fall ratings failures, just small successes. By now, it’s on track to its lowest-ever seasonal ratings.

For its modest fall successes, only Orville and The Gifted received renewals. Ghosted, the fall comedy has an uncertain fate.

Mid-season premieres varied with 911 receiving the second highest demo rating for any series premiere last year (1.8) and received a renewal after just three episodes. LA to Vegas (uncertain) premiered with a 1.1, and The Resident (renewed) got a 1.0 in its first proper airing.

2018-2019 Pickups

FOX is in a tumultuous place while they wait on the Disney/21st Century Fox merger to go through. NewFox and what happens to this year’s new shows if they succeed is completely inscrutable at the moment. What we do know is that 30 hours of space goes to football in the fall, and NewFox is likely to become extremely sports and live entertainment heavy. Their five orders barely replace their six (maybe eight) cancelled shows and is two less than last year’s orders.

Dramas (2)

Their first order The Passage is a character-driven thriller focusing on ten year old Amy Bellafonte (Saniyya Sidney), who is the test subject for a cure that could save the world or take it out. Of NBC and FOX, this is the first trailer where I have immediately gone, “Holy crap, I want to watch this.” I love the spin on how the vampires are created alongside the “there’s an epidemic, we’re dead” premise. There’s obviously a lot to learn from the show itself, but ending the trailer with a white man (MPG is half Asian but not sure how the show is playing that) telling a dark-skinned young Black girl (who clearly knows her stuff) that her life is important? Specifically in context of how the first man we meet is a Black convict? Oof. Hopefully this fulfills its potential.

Proven Innocent, the second order, follows a firm that overturns wrongful convictions with Rachelle Fafevre and Russell Hornsby as the first and second leads. It vaguely reminds me of Cold Case, which is a show that I loved so I’m willing to give this a chance especially because I loved the trailer. Plus, some of my favorite episodes of TV have been where the lawyers work to get innocent people out of jail. We know there are plenty of cases like this in real life. I hope it does well and survives to season 2.

Both are inclusively led and set for mid season.

Comedies (3)

None of the comedies, all set for fall, particularly inspire me. Though I did laugh when I read that The Cool Kids received an order as a partner for the Last Man Standing revival (thanks Roseanne), but don’t know if a retirement home comedy is what Nielsen homes will respond to. It’s also one of five shows with only one lead of color.

On the flip side, Rel based on the lead, Lil Rel Howery’s real life follows his quest to find a new barber after finding out his wife (now ex) was having an affair with him is clearly inclusively led. I’ll probably watch Rel if its ratings indicate it’ll survive for a second year.

Verdict

FOX was mostly the focus of fan outrage after they cancelled B99. Though clearly NBC was already in the works to reacquire it for at least one more season. The studio where all but two of their shows (Gotham set to end, Lethal Weapon) come from is on the move soon! I really have no idea just how many shows they’ll get to keep when the merger is final.

Maybe NewFox is animated comedies, two or three procedurals, and a few live action comedies when they don’t have sports/live programming? (Just a repeat of their new fall programming.) With Rel furthest from the NFL lead in, its odds of survival decrease. All of their dramas are short seasons (except Resident and I assume 911), which gives them less to work with if the Lethal Weapon recasting doesn’t work for example.

We’ll learn more as the year goes on. Still, with 25% of their scripted fare set to air next year, anything could change. Maybe the two dramas succeed! Plus, not all shows actually make it to the regular season schedule, as seen by Reverie last year, so anything truly could happen.

What do y’all think about their new shows?


Images courtesy of FOX.

Seher
Written By

Seher obsesses over show ratings and usually writes about media representation issues. Otherwise, she's reading away for her graduate program in anthropology.

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