Net banks on half-hours, 'X Factor' boost for 'Glee'

Of all the networks, Fox’s schedule is usually the easiest to predict, and that was true again this year. After all, with just 15 hours of programming and the net’s tendency to devote entire nights to a single idea, it is somewhat locked in.

The only real mystery was whether Fox thought it had the goods to expand to four comedies on Tuesday, and it apparently does. Mindy Kaling newbie “The Mindy Project” has been the net’s most buzzed-about project all development season, so it belongs behind “New Girl,” giving the net what should be a stronger, more compatible combo than it had this year. “New Girl” will probably have to work harder this fall, though, as transplanted “Raising Hope” and rookie “Ben & Kate” don’t figure to be as strong as “Glee” — and they likely will be battling with ABC’s own comedy pair in the hour for third place behind “NCIS” and “The Voice.”

It’s disappointing that “The X Factor” is again eating up all of Wednesday, which means good ratings for the net but as the expense of using the real estate to launch a new comedy behind it. And on Thursday, the “X Factor” results show will lead into “Glee” on its new night. The move of “Glee” makes sense because as a musical-based comedy, it feels right here; also, a significant change in cast as some students graduate seems like a good time to relaunch the show. While “Glee” should benefit from the “X Factor” lead-in, it will face tough competition for young women from ABC’s still-potent “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Monday will return “Bones” to its 8 p.m. slot, followed by new medical-themed drama “Mob Doctor,” which takes over for outgoing doctor vet “House.” “Mob Doctor” should benefit from being the only Big Four drama in the hour, giving it as good a shot as it can ask for — even if “Bones” isn’t a substantial lead-in. Still, it’s hard to see Fox challenging CBS or NBC as the broadcast leaders from 8 to 10. The midseason scheduling of Kevin Bacon thriller “The Following,” likely in the 9 o’clock hour that was home to “24″ for many years, makes a lot of sense and gives the net a promotional focus for its postseason NFL action.

If the net was going to bring back “Touch,” a Friday slot was probably the best — and only — option. It should do decently, especially as likely the only Big Four drama in the hour. “Fringe” is “Fringe,” and will again draw a small but loyal aud at 9 o’clock, but could benefit slightly from a decent drama lead-in.

Saturday, which suffered this season with the loss of “America’s Most Wanted,” should be improved with more sports action in the fall. And Sunday returns pretty much intact, with its two-hour block solid male counter-programming to NBC’s football.

Bottom line: The lineup of scripted series makes sense, but the net’s fall fortunes will again have more to do with how “X Factor” and postseason baseball fare.

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