Upfronts 2014: Fox offers uninspiring glimpse into new year

LINA ALLES-018

By Lina Alles

Fox’s primetime preview at the Beacon Theatre was a somewhat solemn affair. Despite Pitbull opening the show with a couple of high energy songs, the presentation was completely devoid of energy. This past year was not a good one for Fox, with American Idol ratings in decline and The X-Factor cancelled, the network has lost its shine.

Kevin Reilly, chairman of Fox Entertainment, took the stage to introduce the new 2014/15 schedule. The main strategy for the upcoming season is to “drive tuning all year long by eventizing the schedule.” The goal is to provide original programming all year round, introduce event series, unscripted shows, and of course musicals! Although that sounds like a good strategy the lack of excitement in the delivery made us all think that if Fox can’t get excited about the new schedule how can we?

The new schedule sees a new show launched for every night of the week and a Sunday night that for the first time in a decade is no longer solely dedicated to animated series, with Brooklyn Nine-Nine and new sitcom Mulaney now on the channel that night.

Of the new shows that were revealed, there is one unscripted entry, Utopia, the social experiment where people leave their families for a remote area to start a new life from scratch. It looks like Survivor, but lasts a full year. Not interesting at all.

Two 10-episode event entries are set to hit the screens, with the remake of U.K.’s Broadchurch called Grace Point, starring David Tennant and Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn. The show is set in a small town and follows what happens after a shocking murder rocks its residents. The second is Wayward Pines, starring Matt Dillon and based on the best-selling book “Pines,” I think it will be lucky if all 10 episodes of the thriller make it to air.

The musicals Fox is set to remake and air are Grease and Peter Pan, which they hope will have the same success as The Sound of Music did for NBC this past season.

If these events are what Fox is hoping will driving tuning I think they will be in for a big disappointment.

Of the remaining new entries, we were introduced to three comedies and five new dramas. The only comedy with a clip was Mulaney, which he described as Seinfeld for the me generation. If only that were true but sadly it’s not.

The only drama worth noting is Gotham, the prequel to all the beloved characters of Batman franchise. Bruce Wayne as a child witnessing the murder of his parents was certainly a different perspective and was the only show that created a buzz.

The presentation was over in a little over an hour and then it was off to the after party at Wollman Park for the great food and requisite picture taking with the stars. At least that part was exciting.

Lina Alles is chief trading officer at Mindshare Canada.

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