Fox's 2014-2015 Schedule: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

By Kaitlin Thomas

May 13, 2014

Welcome to the Upfronts! This is the week when the broadcast networks unveil their new fall schedules (which is why last week saw so many renewals and cancellations). They give us our first glimpse of what's to come in the fall, and in some cases, they validate our opinions of whatever pilots we've been enthusiastically anticipating or mocking and/or dreading for months. NBC kicked things off on Sunday with a brand-new 2014-2015 schedule, and on Monday, Fox got all dolled up, put on a fancy dress, and tried to woo us with all kinds of shiny new shows. But did it work? Let's break down the good, the bad, and the ugly from the network's new lineup.

First thing first: Here's Fox's 2014-2015 schedule.

And here are the first trailers for Fox's new shows, including Gotham, Gracepoint, Mulaney, Hieroglyph, Empire, Utopia, Backstrom, and Wayward Pines.

Now let's get to the good stuff... as well as the bad stuff and the ugly stuff, 'cause that's the whole point of this story!


THE GOOD


The supernatural buddy cop drama Sleepy Hollow, which was Fox's biggest hit of the 2013-2014 season, will be back for 18 episodes in Season 2. We can debate whether or not the increased episode order is a good thing or a bad thing until Ichabod and Abbie return in the fall, but for now, we have bigger Horsemen of the Apocalypse to fry. The network will be airing Sleepy Hollow almost without interruption, with new Batman prequel series Gotham as a lead-in. (Gotham currently has a 16-episode order.) By pairing these two shows, the network is hitting two very rabid, very vocal, and very young fanbases—comic book fans and Sleepyheads—which could make for a very successful Monday night. While I wish Fox had flipped the two shows, with Sleepy Hollow as a lead-in for Gotham to give the new series a boost, the network will be starting its work week strong either way. 


THE BAD


Fox is busting up its Sunday-night Animation Domination block by moving Andy Samberg and the rest of the Brooklyn Nine-Nine gang from Tuesdays at 9:30pm to Sundays at 8:30pm. The network is banking on NFL fans watching the post-game coverage until 7:30pm (the network airs football on Sunday afternoons), then sticking around around through Bob's Burgers and The Simpsons to catch B99 at 8:30pm. And then it's hoping that Family Guy fans will linger after the animated series' 9pm broadcast to check out the new live-action comedy Mulaney at 9:30pm. 

For one thing, I'm not so sure that fans of the network's familiar animated franchises will take kindly to the live-action interruptions, especially since the live-action comedies themselves are split by the not-so-family friendly Family Guy. And for another thing, I suspect that New Girl and The Mindy Project—neither of which draws huge ratings—will suffer on Tuesdays without being part of a larger comedy block. During a conference call with reporters on Monday, Fox boss Kevin Reilly said that he was worried about "protecting" the network's new comedies with strong lead-ins, and sure, maybe the DVR is king, but Fox's mash-ups of different genres and show types are still a bit worrisome. 


THE UGLY


Fox has 12 new series in its hopper, and yet the network is holding most of them until the midseason or later in its ambition to program year-round. This is tied to an announcement that Reilly made in January about his plans to do away with pilot season altogether—which is actually a pretty bold and exciting decision. The problem is that this new direction makes for a rather dull-looking—not to mention very mismatched—fall schedule. 

Gotham and Sleepy Hollow seem like a good match on Mondays, as do Bones and new miniseries Gracepoint on Thursdays. But as I mentioned above, Fox's new Sunday-night comedy plans are all over the map. And call me crazy, but I don't think the people who'll be interested in the unscripted "civilization-building" Utopiawhich is now scheduled to air on Tuesdays from 8pm to 9pm—are the same people who want to follow the hijinks of Jessica Day and Mindy Lahiri from 9pm to 10pm. Ditto for Fox's Wednesday-night lineup: The mix of scripted coming-of-age drama Red Band Society with the unscripted Hell's Kitchen just doesn't translate.

Now that the network no longer has three hours of The X Factor to contend with, it makes sense that it needs to fill its schedule somehow, but with so many new series to work with, I expected better for the fall.


THE PROMISING-SOUNDING VAGUE STRATEGIES 


Reilly is making a lot of bold claims about "eventizing" his programming slate—and while it all sounds peachy, we don't really have a sense of whether that decision will pay off. Fox is the first broadcast network to really embrace the limited event series, as well as the cable model of shorter seasons, but will that approach actually work in the long run? For example, Sleepy Hollow performed well with its limited episode order in Season 1, but the same formula hasn't been as successful for The Following. Meanwhile, the network has new miniseries Wayward Pines, as well as new series Empire, HieroglyphBackstromLast Man on EarthWeird Loners, and Bordertown, waiting in the wings, and until we see how Reilly plans to schedule them, it's hard to make a call on the viability of a year-round approach. However, I do like that the network is actively attempting to have fewer breaks and reruns, which tend to be problematic for viewer retention.

Plus, don't forget that Fox still has the sixth and final season of Glee, as well as a new season of American Idol to contend with. Reilly said the Ryan Murphy musical—which currently has a 22-episode order for Season 6, although that may change—will be airing uninterrupted, while American Idol, which has struggled in recent years, is looking at a format switch and only 37 hours of programming, as opposed to the 50-plus it's aired in the past. My guess is that it'll end up going the Dancing With the Stars route, and airing a single two-hour show on one night. This is all potentially good news, but it's still kind of "wait and see" at this point.


Best-looking New Fox Series: Gotham


When Fox first announced it was going to make a Jim Gordon-centered Batman prequel series, I mocked the idea. An entire show about Gotham City's police commissioner? He's a good sidekick, but is he compelling enough to lead a series? After seeing the trailer for Gotham, however, I'm fully on-board with the look and the tone of the series. Ben McKenzie stunned me with his work on Southland, and I'm excited to see what he can do with this material. Plus, Donal Logue, guys. That man is everywhere and in everything and I am not mad about it. Finally, Jada Pinkett Smith plays a villain named Fish Mooney. How can you hate that?


Worst-looking New Fox Show: Hieroglyph


"Let's put people in inaccurate period costumes, add weird mythology, possibly add a vampire because those are popular, and then make everything really shiny and hope no one notices when it doesn't make any sense!"


Most WTF But in a Cool Way Series: Wayward Pines


This 10-episode limited-event thriller from M. Night Shyamalan is creepy, kooky, mysterious, and spooky. Wait, that's The Addams Family. But no matter, because Wayward Pines could find success in the same way that Sleepy Hollow did: by going balls to the wall and embracing its lofty nature.


The Show Most Likely to Make You Upset That Fox Canceled EnlistedMulaney


Fox took away the hilarious Hill brothers and replaced them with this multi-camera sitcom with zero personality? Oh but it's from Lorne Michaels, they say! John Mulaney's won an Emmy, they say! It has Martin Short and a dog on a skateboard, they say! Well, guess what I say? This sitcom might have worked once upon a time, but that time has come and gone. 


Most Obvious Argument Against American Adaptations of British Shows: Gracepoint


David Tennant and Anna Gunn are both phenomenal actors, and Gracepoint looks well-made, but this American adaptation of the U.K. series Broadchurch should never have happened—at least not like this. Not only is Gracepoint a near-exact recreation of the original—albeit with a new ending—but David Tennant's American accent, while definitely better now than what it was in that Rex Is Not Your Lawyer pilot from several years ago, just makes me sad. He's Scottish, let him use his Scottish accent, dammit! 



Upfronts 2014 HQ:
New Shows, Network Schedules, Video Previews, and More


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  • AssandroJourn May 21, 2014

    I'll avoid Gotham which sounds ridiculous. Another comic book series. How many do we need? Movie theaters are full of spidermen, supermen, batmen, reboots, restarts. Comics is all over the place. Are we really that simplistic?

  • Genesistt May 17, 2014

    I'm not even giving Wayward Pines a shot. Anything with M Night Shamalan attached to it I will avoid!!!!!

  • ShadowKreator May 15, 2014

    Somewhat excited for Gotham and I agree, Hieroglyphs trailer looks pretty bad...and that says a lot since most of em generally look pretty good even if they turned out to be lame. Still upset about Almost Human's cancellation but at least Sleepy Hollow got a second season.

  • vampman87 May 17, 2014

    My question for Hieroglyphs... why are all the people in power white and the servants black/middle eastern? This is Ancient Egypt, a country in Northern Africa. The BLACK people were in control and the WHITE people were the slaves, historically.

  • MikeDurkin May 15, 2014

    "Fox is the first broadcast network to really embrace the limited event series, as well as the cable model of shorter seasons, - However, I do like that the network is actively attempting to have fewer breaks and reruns, which tend to be problematic for viewer retention."
    Ok,so this so called year round programming approach sucks. The fact that its supposed to retain viewers is even more laughable. Falling Skies starts in June,the whole season is over by August. I now have to wait 10,yes 10 months until the show is on again.That is what is problematic!!!! DaVinci's Demons,same f-ing thing,starts in April done in June. That is what they call year round programming,that is viewer retention. When the show does come back 10 months later,I have to re watch the last 3 episodes because I have forgot everything that happened. Thats if I even care anymore. And this style is supposed to be better then having a show on from September to April and then reruns in the summer??? No f-ing way!!!! And dont tell me the quality of the show will suffer. Even if that is a risk, I would rather have 24 episodes of say Spartacus and risk that MAYBE a few MIGHT not be great,then 10 episodes and have to wait 10 months for more. What should happen in this "year round " programming is,a shows season should consist of 20-24 episodes,split into two parts. You have Walking Dead show 12 episodes in the fall,it goes away for break and Hell on Wheels comes in for winter with their 12 or 10. Then in the spring Walking Dead comes back for the final 10-12 and is gone for the summer. Hell on Wheels comes back for the summer with their final 10-12 episodes. Bada bing bada boom,done.

  • DesolaKazeem May 31, 2014

    But none of those shows you mentioned are broadcast shows, so they don't apply at all..
    Cable had always had short seasons at all times of the year....

  • graindesable May 14, 2014

    Gracepoint ... This show is probably the best worst idea Fox has had in a long time. "The end will be different than in Boradchurch" ; ok, I'll check the last 10 minutes of the show then. Why David Tennant ? Why ?

  • No1Slayerette May 14, 2014

    I pretty much stated the same thoughts on the schedule page, Gotham and Sleepy Hollow definitely are a great pairing, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine's move to Sunday is definitely a questionable decision (although it does have the potential to work).

    I'm very excited about the prospect of the network doing away with the traditional pilot season and having year-round development, as well as adapting to the length of cable run series, regardless of whether or not it ends being successful for them or not - at least they're making an effort to really try something new.

    The only real problem I can see with this strategy is that with so many series waiting to air I can see the network quickly discarding under-performing series more quickly than usual because there will always be something else to replace it. It undoubtedly has the potential to start a really negative cycle in which even more and more series are churned out only to be cancelled after a handful of episodes and replaced by another similarly underrated series. I hope that it doesn't happen, it just sounds like it could.

  • Akyriel May 14, 2014

    Here's an idea. How long has FOX been a network programming two hours a night, not including Sundays? Why not go to three hours a night now? You could likely take 5 of those extra shows to fill in the time let alone find better slots / schedules for existing programs, no? What about something like New Girl, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Sleepy Hollow, and Gotham on a Monday night for example?. My local FOX affiliate carries our CBS affiliates news following FOX shows. I am sure they could bump that back an hour, which would also meaning bumping Arsenio Hall, as well, but I don't see the real downside to this idea overall.

  • rickynotrefle May 14, 2014

    Completely agree about these American remakes... firstly, it's usually a bad idea to begin with but then trying to make people use American accents isn't always necessary. As seen in Sleepy Hollow for example, having a different accent is perfectly fine. Rebel Wilson should've just used her regular accent in Super Fun Night instead of putting on the American one also. I don't see the point of Broadchurch/Gracepoint at all, basically redoing the series but having the UK actors doing American accents, that's literally so ridiculous haha. Why not just import these UK/Australian series to America as they were originally made instead of continuously attempting to Americanize them. I just find this Broadchurch/Gracepoint to be the height of absurdity in an absurd trend that needs to end sooner rather than later.

  • LaurenAmster May 14, 2014

    Are you crazy?!? I'm gonna watch the shit out of Hieroglyph. Maybe it will suck, but everything you said and that trailer were totally hypnotizing. It looks like Da Vinci's Demons, which I liked at first and then got tired of. Plus, The Professor from Quantum Leap, y'all! I am such a dork. Which is why I am also obviously watching Gotham.

  • mdoz34 May 14, 2014

    He is the professor from Sliders. Or Gimli from Lord of the Rings. Or Sallah from Indiana Jones. Take your pick, lol.

  • DesolaKazeem May 31, 2014

    And Panis Rahl in legend of the seeker..
    He was in that silly comedy central show Krod Mandoon as well

  • LaurenAmster May 14, 2014

    Oh, you're right, Sliders, not Quantum Leap. Arrggghh!!!! How could I make such a rookie mistake?

  • ludoTV May 13, 2014

    So excited about Gotham with the fab Sleepy Hollow (I hope the additional eps do not dilute the insane pace of the show but hopefully the writers have enough time to come up with more insanity)... Also great to see

    I have to disagree that moving to BB99's move to Sunday is going to be such bad news for New Girl or The Mindy Project. HOnestly the ratings they have been getting are in the low 1s so doubtful they will go lower because the lose the lacklustre BB99 (in terms of ratings, not sure about quality as I do not watch it). Not even New Girl is anchoring The Mindy Project anymore and in fact TMS got better ratings or at least the same ratings as New Girl the past few episodes. True, the lead will now be some awful sounding reality show called UTOPIA so that is not promising ...

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