A series challenger
Fox’s new schedule includes the return of 24, writes Lynn Elber
US TV network Fox is betting on its first miniseries showcase, starting with a limited-edition 24 and shows from heavyweight producers Seth MacFarlane and JJ Abrams to invigorate its schedule.
The network is making its largest originalprogramming investment yet with a crop of 11 new series along with a miniseries from filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan for the 2013-14 season, Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly says. That’s more than double the five series it announced last year.
Fox is the second of the major broadcast networks to announce its schedule for next season, after NBC unveiled its load of 17 new series.
After changing the TV landscape with American Idol, Fox is jumping on the miniseries bandwagon that started rolling with the History Channel’s hits Hatfields & McCoys and The Bible.
Although producers of 24 had contemplated bringing the cancelled show back with a big-screen movie, they decided that Fox’s planned ‘‘event series’’ would be the right place for it, Reilly says.
The miniseries, 24: Live Another Day, will clock in at half its running length and the 12 episodes will be chronological but will skip some hours.
The next announced miniseries is Wayward Pines, from Shyamalan ( The Sixth Sense). Based on the bestselling novel Pines, it stars Matt Dillon in what Fox calls a ‘‘mind-bending thriller’’ about the search for missing federal agents in an Idaho town.
Other broadcast network miniseries are reportedly in the works, following cable’s success with the genre that once was a TV mainstay but had gone dormant. Reilly says the miniseries will help Fox toward its goal of year-round programming.
American Idol is staying put on Wednesday and Thursday nights in the US when it returns for its 13th season next January. The same can’t be said for its judges: Original panelist Randy Jackson won’t be back and speculation has newcomers Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Australian Keith Urban exiting as the aging series seeks a reboot.
MacFarlane, a key Fox supplier with the animated comedies Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, will try his hand at a live-action sitcom. Dads stars Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi as best friends whose fathers (Martin Mull, Peter Riegert) become their new roommates.
Abrams ( Lost, Fringe and the Star Trek movie franchise) is among the producers of Almost Human, described by Fox as a hi-tech action series set 35 years in the future, when officers are teamed with humanlike androids. The drama stars Karl Urban, Michael Ealy and Lili Taylor.
The second new drama is Sleepy Hollow, a retelling of Washington Irving’s classic 19th-century tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Timid schoolmaster Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) is resurrected 250 years in the future and discovers he must save the world from destruction.
The Following, the Kevin Bacon drama about an alliance of serial killers that proved a hit for Fox in its freshman year, will be back on the schedule in midseason. The Mindy Project and New Girl will also return. Other series cancelled by Fox include Touch, Goodwin Games, Mob Doctor and the long-running Cops, which has been picked up by the Spike network.
One new reality show, a cooking competition for youngsters ages 8 to 13 and with the working title, Junior Masterchef, will feature Gordon Ramsay among its coaches.
Greg Kinnear will take on his first continuing broadcast series role in Rake, a legal drama based on the hit Australian series of the same name.
Some of Fox’s other new shows include: Gang Related, starring Terry O’Quinn ( Lost); comedy Us & Them; Surviving Jack, based on Justin Halpern’s semiautobiographical book; and Murder Police, an animated comedy about an inept detective and his colleagues.
Fox has confirmed Kevin Bacon will return with a second series of The Following.