Fox had wanted to rescue “Last Man” last year when it was unexpectedly axed by ABC. But the network didn’t have an ideal time slot available or a good companion show for the multi-camera series from its sibling 20th Century Fox TV studio. This year, the timing for “Last Man” was perfect as Fox sought broad meat-and-potatoes comedies to land on Friday to take advantage of the promotional platform offered by another newcomer to its schedule, “Thursday Night Football.”
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” on the other hand, was not a good fit with the Friday strategy given that the show is heading into its sixth season and has a more serialized storyline as a single-camera vehicle. Just as “Last Man” is relocating to Fox, NBC quickly scooped up “Brooklyn” after Fox canceled the series produced by NBC’s Universal TV sibling.
“Once we made the decision (about Friday) it limited the opportunities we had to schedule ‘Brooklyn,’ ” Walden said. “Scheduling ‘Brooklyn’ would have prevented us from launching something new.”
Walden emphasized that “Last Man” was a self-starter for ABC during its six-season run with little promotional support. With all of those factors combined, “Roseanne’s” out of the box performance “emboldened” Fox’s plan to put Allen’s show back on the air, in tandem with a new comedy that is a tonal fit, “Cool Kids,” starring Martin Mull, Vicki Lawrence and David Alan Grier.
“It’s a really funny show,” Walden said of “Last Man”. “It had nothing to do with ‘Roseanne’ that we were interested in the show in the first place. (But) I think everyone took a good, hard look at the performance of ‘Roseanne.’ It certainly did remind us we have a huge, iconic comedy star in our Fox family in Tim Allen.”
The demise of “Last Man” on ABC last year spurred much chatter that it the decision was influenced by Allen’s conservative political views, which made the show a favorite among red-state demos. Newman noted that the comedy itself rarely delves into politics directly. He said ABC’s decision probably had more to do with the show being from an outside studio rather than Allen’s political leanings. “Roseanne” has made waves because star Roseanne Barr is an avowed supporter of President Donald Trump and his brand of conservatism is given voice in the revival of the blue-collar comedy.
“Tim’s personal politics aren’t really a big feature of the show,” Newman said of “Last Man.”
Newman and Walden also talked up the potential of Fox’s other new comedy, “Rel” which will air in the post-“Family Guy” 9:30 p.m. slot on Sunday. The domestic comedy stars Lil Rel Howery as a husband and father in Chicago who reinvents his life after he learns his wife is having an affair. Jerrod Carmichael, late of 20th TV’s NBC comedy “The Carmichael Show,” on which Howery co-starred, is an exec producer along with veteran showrunner Mike Scully.
“Rel is really a breakout comic star and his character feels very much like a Fox character,” Newman said. “He and Jerrod produced a really funny pilot. We thought our Sunday night, young, somewhat male-leaning audience would be a great opportunity for the show.”
(Pictured: “Last Man Standing”)