Fall TV Preview 2011-12: Fox
Fox heads into the fall season with every chance of having TV’s top freshman drama, comedy and reality show in the 18-49 demo.Of course, whether viewers will follow that playbook remains to be seen, but for the network that brings back perennial powerhouse “American Idol” in January, the autumn potential of “Terra Nova,” “New Girl” and “The X Factor” is thrilling. “One thing that I am very genuinely enthused about is that our shows are really the headlines this year,” Fox entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly says. “I feel like we’re sitting on a hot hand.” Each show comes with questions. Is “Terra Nova” a smallscreen “Jurassic Park” or a big-budget boondoggle? Will Zooey Deschanel bring more than a cult following to “New Girl?” Is Fox brass correct in believing that “X Factor” is similar yet different from “Idol” in all the right places to succeed? But the risk-reward of each scenario tilts enough in Fox’s favor for Reilly to be optimistic. “Terra Nova” should draw much more on Mondays than last year’s critically admired but quickly canceled “Lone Star.” “New Girl,” sandwiched between “Glee” and “Raising Hope” on Tuesdays, no doubt will make “Running Wilde” a more distant memory. “X Factor” sets both Wednesdays and Thursdays up for gains, while “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Fringe” on Fridays offers more stability than, say, “The Good Guys.” And speaking of stability, there’s the Sunday animation block, which features four returning halfhours to buoy newcomer “Allen Gregory.” “In this job, you kind of play what you got, and this year feels like a really potent crop,” Reilly says. “I do think that Fox is going to have success in every genre and the potential for breakout success in those genres. I look at the course of our season, and I’ve looked at all the other competitive product and I really like the way we’re positioned.”
You could be excused for thinking it should be called “Terra Olda.” Covering the ground of this series might seem like anything but new news, given that the buzz first began in 2009 and that it was ordered to series (skipping the pilot stage) before the 2010-11 TV season. That planned sneak preview last May? Yeah, well. . . But now with a firm premiere date of Sept. 26, the future-to-the-back drama — with Steven Spielberg, Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope, Brannon Braga and director Alex Graves among its 12 exec producers — will end all the speculation and mystery about its creative, special-effects and ratings bonafides. With a bang, Reilly believes. “Whether that show will work or not, that show is just not going to come on quietly,” Reilly says. “That show is going to make a lot of noise. It’s going to get sampled, and it’s going to be really different than anything else on the air.”
One of two new halfhours on Fox about uppity kids, “Allen Gregory” revs up its tale of a precocious-by-half 7-year-old who for the first time is compelled to spend time with peers his own age. The demo cred of series co-creator and lead voice Jonah Hill and the longrunning success of Fox’s animation block should bring some curious viewers.
Here’s the other one, an acerbic comedy with Aisha Dee and Kristi Lauren as the out-of-control kin to series leads Katie Finnernan and Jaime Pressly, the latter in her first regular role since “My Name Is Earl.” With a premiere date delayed until a post-Thanksgiving Nov. 30, “Daughter” will launch after families gathered for the holiday and the traditional dinner-table debate of which fall premieres were worth watching.
If it wasn’t atop every single critics list for freshman fall comedy, “New Girl” was still favored by enough to offer hope that it will have strength beyond its casting coup of Deschanel as loveable-but-leavable Jess. The writing was sharp and chemistry clear between Deschanel and co-stars Max Greenfield, Jake Johnson and Hannah Simone, with Lamorne Morris sliding in to replace Damon Wayans Jr.