The Telefile
Fox: More Singing, More Dancing, More Action

It's the start of upfront week, and while Fox revealed their schedule this morning, the presentation showing off their actual new programming until this afternoon. It took place at City Center in Manhattan, but thanks to the magic of the web, I got to watch it from my mostly comfy desk chair. It started off with a guide to surviving the onslaught of new TV. Using clips of Homer telling us about nutrition, Bones keeping us hip with lingo and something with The Family Guy's Peter. Then they revealed the stage, which was filled with Fox stars. People from each show came to the front and took a quick bow, while the announcer said their names. Or tried to. He brutalized everyone from Chi McBride to Tyler Labine to, most egregiously, Lie to Me's Brenda Hines. He (being Brendan) got a good laugh out of it. They all trickled off stage, leaving only Kiefer "Jack Bauer" Sutherland.

Kiefer did a few minutes of obligatory chatter about how much the advertisers mean to him, and the closed with a joke about how he'd meet them in the bar at the after party. Which was amusing, but then was followed by ad guy John Nesvig showing charts and graphs and explaining that not everyone watches TV on the internet and throwing in economy buzz words. He was followed up by new Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice, who had transferred from Fox Searchlight, talking about why TV is better than movies in terms of reaching a bigger audience. My eyes started glazing over at this point, but I perked up again when I heard the voice of Fox's president of entertainment, Kevin Reilly.

He's the lucky one who got to present the new schedule and shows. He started off with a lame election joke with a Danny Gokey punch line. He went on to explain Fox's strategy for airing more So You Think You Can Dance, which basically amounted to "Idol does really well this way, so we're going to do it for this show, too." I ain't complaining -- that's my favorite reality show. Then he talked about Glee, which he called wildly original. He showed clips, but since they are only from the pilot, which I've already seen and everyone else will on Tuesday, it seemed like a bit of a letdown. I was hoping for something else new, but whatever, the show has fabulous musical numbers and is destined to be a campy cult classic. He glosses over Bones being back in its Thursday spot (probably for the best) and then said he is "really proud of Fringe." That doesn't explain why they're putting it on Thursday at 9 PM against CSI and Supernatural, which I've got to figure has at least some of the same fans. Thank goodness for watching shows on the Internet - exactly what those ad execs didn't want. Seems counterintuitive to me.

After that, he said that he "still believes in Fridays." Hey, so do I. They exist. I've got a calendar to prove it. Then he talked about football for a while, which is relevant because Michael Strahan is starring with Darryl "Chill" Mitchell in a new sitcom. It's titled Brothers and is about... you guessed it... brothers. They live at home with their mom CCH Pounder and their dad Carl Weathers. It seems like your typical sitcom fare, though it's awfully hard to judge this type of show from a string of jokes with a laugh track attached to it, but the cast seems decent enough if you like that sort of thing. Then Reilly claimed it was a good pairing with Til Death and my estimation of the show drops. And for some bizarre reason, these two traditional comedies are the new lead-ins for Dollhouse, which is back in its Friday death slot. Or should I say, near-death slot. Reilly credited the Joss Whedon loyalists for swaying Fox to give the show a second season (yeah, those fans can be vocal, right?). It's no secret that many folks were underwhelmed by the first season, but looking on the bright side, it wasn't until season two that Buffy and Angel became truly groundbreaking. We hope history repeats.

Sundays is filled with the same old animation stuff, but with the addition of The Cleveland Show. It's a Family Guy spin-off, that I already wrote about last year. It was supposed to air midseason, but the writers' strike and animation schedules made for delays or whatnot. Still with the writers' strike, Fox? That's a tired excuse.

Then he talked about a lot of little interstitial type things they'll be doing to trick people into watching more commercials. The one that sounded most promising was Gordon Ramsay doing a "Cook-A-long," where you'd get the ingredients in advance and throughout the hour of a show he'd tell you how to make a gourmet meal. I now have an excuse to get a TV in my underused kitchen. Awesome.

Coming to January, more sports that aren't the Olympics or the Super Bowl, so I'm a little lost, but one of those sports will be used to launch the new season of 24. He gave a 24-second recap of this season of 24, which was actually only 20 seconds according to the countdown clock, and I'm pretty sure it spoiled tonight's finale.

In addition to 24 Takes Manhattan, midseason will bring us Sons of Tucson. I like star Tyler Labine (Invasion, Reaper), but this two-minute clip did nothing for me. He's approached by three little kids, their father is in prison and they need someone to pretend to be their dad so they can stay together and enroll in school and yadda yadda. It didn't look terrible, but it didn't look great either. No laugh track, though, thank God.

Also on deck for next winter is Past Life, which looked like this awful amalgam of Ghost Whisperer, Fringe, Lie to Me, Cold Case and pretty much anything else they could think of. It is about a group of scientists and led by a hot blonde. Shocking, I know. They use their knowledge of reincarnation to solve old crimes by meeting the victims in their new bodies. And sometimes, just to make things more confusing, the new body meets its old parents and they are all sad and disbelieving... until they aren't. Weird.

Their most promising 2010 show is Human Target, which is based on a comic book, but looks like a badass action movie. Mark Valley (who is long overdue for a good series again) stars, along with Jackie Earl Haley and Chi McBride, as a specialized team that fights crimes. Mark can assume the identities of people and puts himself in the line of fire to stop the targeted victims from dying. In the footage they showed, Valley saved Tricia Helfer and there were lots of explosions and some awesome action stunts all mixed with a bit of quick, smart dialogue. I'm sold.

The entire presentation wound down with the cast of Glee singing Queen's "Somebody to Love" ('cause Adam Lambert wasn't available), which at least made a nice bookend to the strong intro. Fox didn't have much that was new or impressive on tap for the spring (excepting Target), but at least Lie to Me, Fringe and Dollhouse are all getting sophomore seasons and there will be more So You Think You Can Dance than anyone can handle. Even me. Maybe.




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The Telefile

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