Fox Cancels Everything -

Fox Cancels Everything


Fox tonight was the first network to announce some of its 2010-11 pickups and cancellations – mostly cancellations. I don’t think Fox fully deserves its reputation as the evil cancellation-happy network; they’ve stayed with many shows through mediocre or worse ratings. But they’ve definitely decided to clean house this time, except for Fringe, which has already been renewed.

Simon Cowell is taking over the network with The X-Factor, which I greatly fear will be a crushing hit like it is all over the world, and that makes him the Jay Leno of Fox: everything has to go to make room for him. So in order to clear space for Cowell while still picking up some new scripted stuff, the network has canceled virtually all its “bubble” shows:

Breaking In, which had decent ratings that were, however, heavily inflated by an American Idol lead-in, is gone. This makes Christian Slater’s third straight failed series.
The Chicago Code is gone, making Shawn Ryan’s second canceled series in a year. This is the really sad one among the cancellations: a good cast and some good writing, plus the Chicago atmosphere (though they said “Chicago” too often). It was a potentially fine 10 o’clock series that had the misfortune of being on a network that doesn’t have any 10 o’clock slots.
Human Target, after a bad second-season retool, is canceled, another demonstration that the broadcast networks have become puzzlingly bad at doing escapist action fare. USA and TNT do this stuff with relative ease.
Lie To Me was canceled, and I don’t have much of an opinion on this one, but it hung on for 48 episodes.
– Finally, Fox canceled the comedy Traffic Light, meaning things haven’t been great for U.S. adaptations of Israeli shows – In Treatment bit it earlier this year.

The pickups Fox announced so far include The New Girl, their marquee comedy pilot: written by Liz Meriwether (who just wrote the successful movie No Strings Attached) and starring Zooey Deschanel, I’ve heard it described as kind of a cross between Three’s Company and Family Guy. Damon Wayans Jr. is in it, and as I said, it would be smart strategy on ABC’s part to pick up Happy Endings (apart from the fact that I like that show) since Fox would then have to recast Wayans’ part and spend money to reshoot all his scenes in New Girl.

The other comedy Fox picked up is I Hate My Teenage Daughter, starring Jaime Pressley and Katie Finneran; the fact that it’s a multi-camera show (aka Lowbrow Dinosaur Comedy™) suggests that the format will make more of a comeback this season than it did last season, when Fox and NBC didn’t pick up any such shows. Though if Fox tries to schedule it with a single-camera show it’ll probably wind up stone dead whether it’s good or bad – as Fox executives themselves have said, the two formats no longer go together.

The two drama pickups so far are J.J. Abrams’ Alcatraz and Hart Hanson’s previously-mentioned Bones backdoor pilot The Finder. Both are a bit surprising: rumours were (but you know where the rumours often come from: insiders trying to sell their show or tear down someone else’s) that Fox was more interested in other dramas. But instead Alcatraz is in and a couple of sure-thing pilots are out. The premise sounds like yet another attempt to make a new Lost without understanding what made Lost work – namely that there was an interesting premise to hang onto at first even if you didn’t really care about the big mystery. But you can never tell from a description alone. That goes for all the new shows, obviously.

Finally, a word about why this time of year is exciting to TV geeks: I think part of it is still related to the very compressed schedule that TV pilot pickups run on in the U.S. The pilots are shot, edited, delivered and then accepted or rejected in a very short length of time – sometimes a show may be picked up or turned down the week after it’s shot. The people whose pilots don’t get picked up can move on to other things, look for other jobs, but at least it’s quick, and it’s kind of exciting (if you’re interested in that sort of thing) because the answers come fairly fast. In Canada, where a tremendous amount of time may pass between writing and shooting, shooting and pilot pickup, making the series and airing it, it’s hard to create that kind of energy to the process.

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Fox Cancels Everything

  1. Well at least Fringe hung on. Best show on TV without question.

  2. My wife and I were pretty bummed by the news that Human Target was not being renewed. That was one show we really enjoyed from week to week.

  3. This is why I basically can’t watch Fox any more, apart from Sunday animation, Glee, and very occasionally House – there’s no point in enjoying or getting invested in a new show that’s 90% sure of being cancelled before the end of the season.

  4. Sad to hear that Traffic Light is going to be cancelled. I’ve really enjoyed this show, but I suppose I can see how it hasn’t done too well in the ratings.

  5. I’m ticked off about Chicago Code because I genuinely like the cast. I gave up early on the new Hawaii Five-0 because I don’t like the actors, especially the guy playing Danno. Any chance of Chicago Code getting picked up by another network? Especially one that’s carried in Canada?

  6. I honestly think that Fox sometimes doesn’t think before they do these things. I am still mad that they cancelled Arrested Development. It still sells like mad on video, but Fox didn’t have the foresight to know it was good.

    • That’s not really true, though. Fox picked it up for a second season despite the low ratings, gave it one of their best time slots (after The Simpsons) and it continued to get low ratings. Then they gave it a third season, and it got more low ratings, to the point that Michael Bluth even admitted in one episode that the Bluths had “been given plenty of chances” and they just weren’t catching on.

      It did sell well on DVD, but what it takes to sell shows on DVD (a devoted audience willing to pay) is different from what it takes to make a show a success on broadcast television (a large audience willing to watch for free). Fox treated that show extremely well; the public was to blame.