A se­ries chal­lenger

Fox’s new sched­ule in­cludes the re­turn of 24, writes Lynn El­ber

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

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.

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