Fox began in 1986 as an attempt to establish a fourth network. It succeeded by taking gambles to distinguish itself from NBC, CBS, and ABC. Series like Married…with Children, 21 Jump Street, and The Tracy Ullman Show not only brought commercial success to the network but also defined television. The network continues to buck the system to this day. It’s gearing up for major changes that seem to be paying off.
Fox has always explored more risqué humor and often focuses on working class families. This began with Married…with Children, which opened the door to future critically acclaimed series like Malcolm in the Middle and Raising Hope. This eventually led to the success of ABC’s The Middle. 21 Jump Street led to the eventual development of the teen drama and nighttime soap with shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place. The entire line-up of The CW can thank Fox.
Ullman’s comedy series was a sketch series centered around a comedian. Doesn’t that sound like a ton of Comedy Central series? It also spawned The Simpsons, one of the longest running series on television. Fox was also a driving force in creating animated series for adults. It has had major success with Family Guy, Futurama, and Bob’s Burgers.
Fox was also at the forefront of the reality television craze. It was probably one of the most overzealous with a ton of bizarre reality shows. Cops and When Animals Attack gave way to the ratings behemoth American Idol. There were also the low points of Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire? But let’s be honest, is that show much different from The Bachelor? The network has prudently reined in their reality television in favor or more scripted series which is working.
The network’s current line-up of shows definitely breaks barriers. The network has not shied away from being diverse. The casts of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Sleepy Hollow are full of people of color playing against stereotype. Both shows have been wins for the network. Brooklyn Nine-Nine won a Golden Globe and Sleepy Hollow is boosting the network’s ratings. The network also gave Mindy Kaling her own sitcom. It’s is a big deal considering an Asian woman hasn’t headlined her own series since Margaret Cho, and TMP is the first American network sitcom to have an Indian-American woman as the series lead.
The network isn’t afraid to play with unique premises. On paper, Sleep Hollow seems like Ichabod Crane meets a sassy cop. But it’s so much more. Series lead Nicole Beharie plays an intelligent, sympathetic, female action hero and is in no way a sassy stereotype. Almost Human tackles the complicated premise of a procedural crime drama set in the future. Shows about the future have so much trouble. And yet, this series smartly blends its premise with the popular 1970s buddy cop genre to make a show that works.
Network chairman Kevin Reilly made headlines when he said the network would be opting out of pilot season. This is a pretty controversial move considering so much of Hollywood production and casting is built around pilot season. However, with original programming getting produced for cable networks and streaming sites like Amazon and Netflix, there’s an added pressure to make groundbreaking and entertaining television. So Fox is putting on their competition pants.
Fox’s upcoming series are no less risky. The network is planning a sitcom about stand-up comic John Mulaney. Gotham is a drama series about the characters from the Batman franchise, but features Bruce Wayne as a child. There is an American version of David Tennant’s detective series Broadchurch. There’s even Hieroglyph, a drama series about Ancient Egypt!? Talk about a wide net.
It seems like the network has no intentions of changing its penchant for taking chances. No network can guarantee a stronghold on ratings and Fox’s gambles do not always pay off (re: Dads). But the network’s many crazy chances have resulted in some major shifts in television and made Fox a major player in the ratings game.
Fox has picked up a couple new drama series for next season, you guys! Look at them go, those crazy kids — ordering up shows during pilot season. Who would've thought, right? (Well, there is that whole "this is what networks do around this time every pilot season" pesky detail thing, but shh!) Fans of pilot season should get ready, steady, and start their engines, because there's only more where this came from.
The network has shown their dramas who's boss today, and those shows in charge include J.J. Abrams' new series Almost Human, the Greg Kinnear-fronted Rake, a contemporary retelling of Sleepy Hollow, and a show about gangs. It's called (wait for it), Gang Related.
But it wasn't all good news for potential Fox pilots: those not moving forward (at least at the network) are Boomerang, Delirium, and The List. A fourth series, Wild Blue, has been pushed towards a potential run off-cycle. Sorry guys, maybe next year or on a different network.
For those wondering what these new series are about, look no further than the descriptions below! We're pretty helpful 'round here, and never afraid of being a even bit servicey:
- Almost Human: A cop drama, set 35 years in the future in a time when all cops are given human-esque android partners. Stars Karl Urban, Michael Ealy, Lili Taylor, Mackenzie Crook, Michael Irby and Minka Kelly. From Abrams' Bad Robot production company and former Fringe showrunner J.H. Wyman.
- Rake: A lawyer drama adapted from its original Australian counterpart of the same name. Basically House but about law. Expect self-destructive behavior and brilliant minds. Stars Kinnear, Miranda Otto, and John Ortiz. Produced by Australian creator Peter Duncan and Rescue Me's Peter Tolan. Fun fact: Sam Raimi directed the pilot.
- Sleepy Hollow: A contemporary drama retelling the iconic story of Ichabod Crane. Stars Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, and Orlando Jones. Produced and written by Fringe co-creators Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orcie.
- Gang Related," A crime drama that follows Los Angeles' gang task force and its rising star (Ramon Rodriguez) after he's teamed with longtime member Cassius Green (RZA) to take on some of the city's most dangerous gangs. It gets complicated. Stars Rodriguez and RZA. Written by Chris Morgan, directed by Allen Hughes.
These four pilots will be joining the already-renewed line-up of Glee, Bones, New Girl, Raising Hope, The Following and The Mindy Project, in addition to the already-ordered new comedy from Seth MacFarlane, Dad.
What do you think of Fox's new series? Excited about how the fall schedule is shaping up? Let us know in the comments.
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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