On Monday morning, Fox unveiled its primetime schedule for the 2013-14 season, which included several changes to its current lineup and the confirmation of rumors that 24 will be returning to the network.
Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly confirmed the news earlier today on a conference call with members of the press. 24 will return in early May as tentpole event drama 24: Live Another Day, which will "arc through the summer." Speaking on behalf of 24 executive producer Howard Gordon, Reilly said that Gordon had asked himself, “'Why are we killing ourselves trying to crack a feature when this is the perfect format?'” The spine of the proposed 24 feature film occurred over the course of 12 hours and translating the thrust of the film to television was "so liberating for us." The decision will allow the show's producers to take what they saw as the best of the 12 hours and translate for television.
"We’ll still go in chronological order, but we will skip hours," said Reilly. "It will be dictated by the plot.” Details are still coming together, but expect some high-wattage stars for the rebooted 24: "We’re getting just about a Who’s Who of Hollywood wanting to participate in this," Reilly said. And it's possible that this reboot, given what Reilly calls its "franchise-ability," could spur further sequels down the line. "There could be sequels," said Reilly. "I don’t know if it could be yearly," but possibly 18 or 24 months later, should it score with viewers.
(Following the press call, Reilly added a few additional remarks about the launch of 24: Live Another Day. “It’s great to have Jack back," he said in a prepared statement. "24 redefined the drama genre, and as we reimagine the television miniseries, this iconic show will again break new ground for the network. The series remains a global sensation, and everyone at Fox is thrilled to be back at work with Kiefer, Howard and the incredibly creative 24 team.”)
Glee, which was renewed for two more seasons, will be benched in midseason in order to accommodate new drama Rake, starring Greg Kinnear, which will take over the musical-drama's timeslot on Thursdays at 9 p.m. Fox intends to keep its comedy programming block on Tuesdays, which will see female-skewing comedies New Girl and The Mindy Project staying put at 9 p.m., leading out of new (and much more male-centric) comedies Dads and Brooklyn Nine-Nine at 8 p.m. However, in "late fall," Bones will move to Fridays at 8 p.m., where it will be joined by a new hour-long Friday night comedy block consisting of returning comedy Raising Hope and new comedy Enlisted.
Among the new series heading to Fox next season: the J.J. Abrams-executive produced futuristic cop drama Almost Human and a modern-day take on Washington Irving's classic thriller, Sleepy Hollow, from executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. Joining the schedule in 2014: "intense, mind-bending" thriller Wayward Pines, from M. Night Shyamalan (based on Blake Crouch's novel Pines), which will star Matt Dillon.
"We had some challenges this season," Reilly told reporters on a press call early Monday morning. "Next season, we’ve got the Super Bowl… and we’re making the biggest investment of entertainment programming that we’ve ever made at Fox," including "two new event series franchises, the first of which will be going into production for 2014."
This will enable Fox to move ever-closer to its goal of year-round programming, as it continues to be "breaking out of the confines of the traditional broadcast season... We are going to get pretty close to that this year." After the success of The Following's 15-episode season, look for Fox to play around with non-traditional episode counts. "There will be 22 or 24 episode order patterns, but there will be shows that will play at 13, 15, 17," Reilly said to reporters. "There is no magic number." And that goes for year parts as well. "Some will premiere in the summer and arc into the fall."
“This season, we will strategically launch five inventive live-action comedies, four distinctive dramas, our first-ever event series, as well as some innovative new digital initiatives, across the week and throughout the year,” said Kevin Reilly, Chairman, Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company, in a prepared statement. “We’re making the biggest investment in original programming in our history to ensure that FOX continues to engage viewers and move the culture more than any other entertainment brand.”
Elsewhere, Fox also announced that New Girl and one of the network's new comedies would get the plum post-Super Bowl slot on Sunday, February 2. “I think that show has a lot ahead of it," said Reilly. "The second half of this season was really on fire.”
A look at Fox's plans for fall and midseason can be found below, along with quick reactions to the new primetime schedule.
FOX 2013-2014 SCHEDULE
8:00-9:00 p.m Bones (fall) / Almost Human (new; late fall)
9:00-10:00 p.m. Sleepy Hollow (new; fall) / The Following (midseason)
Reilly described Sleepy Hollow as “wildly inventive" and pitched Bones' transfer to Fridays as a smart move. "Once we get rolling in September and October," in November, Bones will move to Fridays, where it will be “the perfect piece of the puzzle and will over-perform on Fridays and hopefully stay there for some time.”
As for J.J. Abrams' Almost Human, Reilly described it as "[looking] like a movie" and touted that the show came from "our Fringe team, all their key players.” And it works as a replacement for Bones for Mondays: "The partner dynamic that worked really well in Bones is alive in both of these shows."
8:00-8:30 p.m. Dads (new)
8:30-9:00 p.m. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (new)
9:00-9:30 p.m. New Girl
9:30-10:00 p.m The Mindy Project
“Other networks experimented with multi-cams and comedy in general" this past season, said Reilly. "We’re bringing back three of the four. Others canceled all of them.” Of new comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Reilly described it as “a classic office comedy… It reminds me of when I saw The Office pilot.” And Reilly touted the creative success of The Mindy Project, which struggled at first to first its feet. “Mindy really found itself creatively in the second half of the season.” Additionally, Reilly indicated that there will be staggered launches for Us & Them and Surviving Jack.
8:00-10:00 p.m The X Factor (fall) / American Idol (midseason)
On the note of American Idol, Reilly was keeping his lips sealed. “We’ve confirmed that one judge is not coming back, which is Randy," said Reilly. "He’s been a great partner for 12 years. There’s not an ounce of ill will there either way.” No word yet on what that means for the show, though when asked if Idol would include just three judges on its panel next season Reilly said it was "likely."
8:00-9:00 p.m. The X Factor Results (fall) / American Idol Results (midseason)
9:00-10:00 p.m. Glee (fall) / Rake (new; midseason)
Fox will present a fall season of Glee, which will then go "on a bit of a hiatus," in order to launch the trial of Greg Kinnear-fronted legal drama Rake. Glee will then return in the spring with a “creative twist” about where the show is going and then will play into summer… which will probably include Gang Related (set to launch sometime in early May), which will be airing originals into summer.
8:00-9:00 p.m. Junior Masterchef (wt) (new; fall)
9:00-10:00 p.m. Sleepy Hollow encores (fall)
"Masterchef was one of the growth stories this year," said Reilly. Junior Masterchef is "really fun," and in multiple territories around the world, it "always pops." This lineup will segue into fully scripted Friday night programming blocks in November.
8:00-9:00 p.m. Bones (late fall)
9:00-9:30 p.m. Raising Hope (late fall)
9:30-10:00 p.m. Enlisted (new; late fall)
7:00-10:30 p.m. FOX Sports Saturday
11:00 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Animation Domination Hi-Def
7:00-7:30 p.m. NFL Game (fall)
7:30-8:00 p.m. The OT (fall)
8:00-8:30 p.m. The Simpsons
8:30-9:00 p.m. Bob's Burgers
9:00-9:30 p.m. Family Guy
9:30-10:00 p.m. American Dad
Note: Scheduling will be announced at a later time for the following new series slated to air in midseason: Gang Related, Surviving Jack, Us & Them, and Murder Police.
Any reactions to the overall schedule have got to be put aside in order to focus on the staggering news that Fox will be resurrecting 24 as a event limited series, albeit one with the strong possibility of turning into an ongoing franchise. Positioning this for summer, along with Wayward Pines (and original episodes of Glee and new cop drama Gang Related), is the first real step we've seen in a long time of Fox moving towards a true year-round programming model. (One that I fully support, given the investment in original scripted fare here.)
The one-two punch of Almost Human and Sleepy Hollow on Mondays could be a strong genre performer for Fox, particularly given the auspices there. It's refreshing to see a broadcaster focusing on science fiction/fantasy, particularly on such a key night, rather than relegating it to Fridays.
Given how much real estate both The X Factor and American Idol take up on the schedule, it was a given that Fox would remain rather conservative with its changes, focusing instead on increasing its investment in original programming rather than shaking up the lineup. Still, I'm interested to see how pairing male-skewing comedies Dads and Brooklyn Nine-Nine and established female-centric comedies New Girl and The Mindy Project fares for Fox this season. It's been increasingly hard for networks to launch full comedy blocks (as proven by Fox itself this past season), and the network will also have a one-hour comedy block on Fridays. Still, it's encouraging to see that they've ordered a number of new comedies and have a few back-ups should some of the early players fail to perform.
Official Fox Trailers: