Predicting a schedule for next season at FOX is somewhat easier than the other networks, if only because we know going in that Wednesday nights and half of Thursday is set and Sunday will be filled with animation.
Coupled with the fact that the network only programs two hours a night, there are comparatively fewer holes to fill than at some other nets.
This year, though, FOX might take some bigger swings. The network is about to wrap up a pretty rough season, and Zap2it can see it adding as many as six new shows to its schedule in the fall — including a further comedy push outside of Tuesday nights.
We’ve already hashed out what ABC and NBC need going into next season. Here’s our proposed schedule for FOX (all times ET/PT, new shows in italics) along with an assessment of what the network needs going into the fall.
8 p.m. “Bones”
9 p.m. “Human” or “Rake”
8 p.m. “Bones”
9 p.m. “The Following”
8 p.m. “Raising Hope”
8:30 p.m. “The Mindy Project”
9 p.m. “New Girl”
9:30 p.m. “Friends and Family”
Midseason possibilities: “Enlisted,” “To My Assistant”
8 p.m. “The X Factor” (fall)/”American Idol” (midseason)
8 p.m. “The X Factor”
9 p.m. “I Suck at Girls”
9:30 p.m. “Brooklyn 99”
8 p.m. “American Idol”
9 p.m. “Glee”
8 p.m. “Kitchen Nightmares”
9 p.m. “Sleepy Hollow” or “Delirium”
8 p.m. “The Simpsons”
8:30 p.m. “Bob’s Burgers”
9 p.m. “Family Guy”
9:30 p.m. “Dads” or “American Dad”
What FOX needs next season:
A fall breakout: FOX only had three new shows in its fall lineup, and none of them really connected. “The Mindy Project” scraped by and will be back next season, but “The Mob Doctor” and (alas) “Ben and Kate” are long gone by now. Coupled with a slumping “X Factor” and lower ratings for the baseball playoffs, it put the network in a hole it’s had trouble digging out of. The best hope for next season is probably on Mondays — if FOX can duplicate the solid numbers “The Following” did at midseason with a new show like “Human” (the cyborg-cop show from “Fringe’s” J.H. Wyman) or “Rake,” starring Greg Kinnear, that would be a pretty big upgrade.
A better Thursday plan: Moving “Glee” behind “The X Factor” and “American Idol” seemed like a way to create a powerful Thursday-night lineup. It hasn’t really turned out that way, though, as all three shows faded this season. Bloated editions of both singing shows also helped contribute to some disjointed scheduling for “Glee,” which hasn’t had more than six consecutive weeks of new episodes all season. The solution: Move “Glee” to midseason where it can have a sustained run and give the fall real estate to a pair of new comedies. At a minimum, FOX should cut some of the fat from “TXF” and “Idol” on Thursdays to keep those shows at one hour.
Compelling postseason baseball: It’s not in the network’s control, but more marquee teams and drama in the MLB playoffs would certainly help. The San Francisco Giants’ sweep of the Detroit Tigers in the World Series last year delivered all-time low ratings.
To start looking ahead to an “Idol”-less future: “American Idol” is still a Top 10 show and still brings in big ad dollars. But this season has shown that it’s no longer capable of carrying the network on its own and papering over missteps elsewhere on the schedule. Short of traveling back in time to 2006, before the cable/DVR/second screen revolution really took hold, nothing — not new judges, not format tweaks, not even a really talented crop of singers like this year’s finalists — is likely to change that. “Idol” isn’t going away anytime in the immediate future, but FOX should be starting to think about what the network will look like when, inevitably, it does.
What are you hoping makes the FOX schedule for next season?