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How Fox should tackle its 2012-13 schedule

“The X Factor” wasn’t what Fox hoped it would be and “American Idol” isn’t what it once was.  FOX-NetworkBut will the network move its companion unscripted franchises from their Wednesday-Thursday berth in order to inject new life into them?

Don’t bet on it. Fresh real estate isn’t going to be the thing that gives either show an edge–internal tweaks like new judges and compelling contestants are really the only course of action for keeping “Factor/Idol” healthy. So look for the centerpiece of the Fox sked to stay where it is.

That said, Fox will look to take its slight lead over CBS in the 18-49 demo season to date into 2012-13 by making some key shifts on other nights (see schedule listing below). Monday was particular problematic for Fox, which is losing “House” and couldn’t get much else going on the night between the failure of “Alcatraz” and the tepid reception for “Touch,” which is getting a second season. 

Wouldn’t be shocked to see Fox load new series into both 8 and 9 p.m. but the safer route is to take durable warhorse “Bones” and plug it in at 8 p.m. to give some lift to a new drama at 9 p.m. Kevin Bacon vehicle “The Following” could be just the thing. Midseason: “The Mob Doctor” could slide in Mondays at 9 p.m. behind another helping of “Touch.”

Perhaps the biggest question hovering over the Fox schedule is whether programming chief Kevin Reilly will have the cajones to make good on his wish to open a four-comedy block on Tuesday. On the one hand, “Glee” may be too fragile to move away from its 8 p.m. berth; on the other hand, giving it some help from a lead-in could give the series a leg up.

My vote goes to the latter option. Ship “Glee” off to Thursday at 9 p.m. after “The X Factor” results show. That frees up an 8-9 p.m. window that should see the pairing of old and new, with “Raising Hope” returning to launch the night, with another family-centric series, “The Goodwin Games” coming in at 8:30 p.m. “New Girl” will stay where it is at 9 p.m., followed by the new comedy genetically engineered to be paired with Fox’s sole comedy hit, Mindy Kaling vehicle “It’s Messy.”

Another new comedy, “Ben & Kate,” will get the plum spot after the Wednesday “Factor,” where it should hope to do a lot better than “I Hate My Teenage Daughter.”

The rest of the schedule should be same old, same old, with “Kitchen Nightmares” playing appetizer to a final helping of “Fringe” on Fridays, and the usual animation rotation on Sunday. There’s not a lot broken at Fox, so they should resist the temptation to do too much fixing.

Analysis: How NBC should rebuild 2012-13 sked

Analysis: How ABC should approach its 2012-13 sked

Analysis: How CBS should spruce up its 2012-13 schedule

MONDAY

8 p.m. “Bones”

9 p.m. “The Following” (new)

TUESDAY

8 p.m. “Raising Hope”

8:30 p.m. “The Goodwin Games” (new)

9 p.m. “New Girl”

9:30 p.m. “It’s Messy” (new)

WEDNESDAY

8 p.m.”The X Factor”

9:30 p.m. “Ben & Kate” (new)

THURSDAY

8 p.m. “The X Factor” results

9 p.m. “Glee”

FRIDAY

8 p.m. “Kitchen Nightmares”

9 p.m. “Fringe”

SUNDAY

7 p.m. Animation (encore)

7:30 p.m. “The Cleveland Show”

8 p.m. “The Simpsons”

8:30 p.m. “Bob’s Burgers”

9 p.m. “Family Guy”

9:30 p.m. “American Dad”

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