Just by announcing the insertion of competition show “Hole in the Wall” into its fall 2008 schedule, Fox increased its supply of new autumn series by 50%.
Small moves have a big impact when you spread out the premieres of your new product, a reality that Fox entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly can get behind.
“If this year could be the template from here on in, I’d be a happy guy,” he says. “Fox has tried a lot of different launch patterns over the years … and I think frankly we’re in the right exact pattern where we need to be.”
“Hole in the Wall,” airing at 8 p.m. Thursdays while Fox rests “Moment of Truth,” gives the network one new reality show to go with its single new drama (“Fringe,” 9 p.m. Tuesdays) and single new comedy (“Do Not Disturb,” 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays).
“Fringe,” from the J.J. Abrams stable, is without a doubt Fox’s marquee new offering, but “Hole,” which reverses traditional obstacle courses by having the challenges rush at the competitors, could prove the most accessible.
“It’s been a very successful format in a lot of countries,” Reilly says. “Every time you mention it, kids get this curious look — ‘I gotta check that out.’ And it feels very Fox.”
Reilly might be even more excited about several shows that Fox will debut midseason, such as Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse,” Ryan Murphy’s “Glee” and “Lie to Me” with Tim Roth, but he’s in no rush to get them on the air.
“I don’t think you’re going to see any changes in the fall, even if none of (the new fall programming) works,” Reilly says. “I’d be very surprised if you saw a substitution on the fly.”
A layered actioner that pits a special FBI team against biological terrorism of unknown origin isn’t exactly comfort food for the masses, but Reilly thinks “Fringe” could find a solid audience over time.
“The show’s going to surprise a lot of people who think they ‘don’t like that sort of thing,'” Reilly says, commenting that the show’s drama and “creep factor” is counterbalanced by a sense of humor about itself. “It knows what it is at its core, and yet it invites a lot of people to the party.”
Even with its ongoing story arcs, Reilly believes “Fringe” can build its audience with close-ended segments. “If you miss any (episodes),” he contends, “the train will not have left the station without you.”
NEW FOR 2008-2009
DO NOT DISTURB
Jerry O’Connell (“Carpoolers”) and Niecy Nash (“Reno 911!”) topline this sitcom set at a ritzy hotel and populated by the usual gang of (hopefully) likable misfits. Series is paired to follow third-year skein “‘Til Death” to form the only comedy block in its hour, an intentional bit of counterprogramming Fox hopes will encourage guests to check in.
HOLE IN THE WALL
The show’s format — humans contorting themselves to fit through inconveniently sized openings — works as a metaphor for its scheduling, as Fox is pushing the show into a challenging Thursday night space. The network hopes warm-up runs earlier this week following “NFL on Fox” on Sunday and “Fringe” on Tuesday will keep its newest contender from crashing.