State of the network: FOX (Part One)

Zack Rosenblatt (’09)/Eastside Entertainment Editor

As the networks begin to announce their line-ups for the 2009 Fall TV season, I thought it would be a great time to give an outlook on the state of each network. I started with NBC, next up is FOX network, home to some of the most entertaining and action-packed shows on network television.
“New” series:
[note: all ratings as of April 22]

Do Not Disturb
Ratings:
Pilot: 4.65 million viewers
2nd episode- 4.13 million
3rd episode- 3.53 million

What the critics say: “A program so bad that it’s not only unpleasant to watch, but it makes you fear for the future of network television.” (Maureen Ryan, Chicago Tribune)

Analysis: Jerry O’Connell just can’t seem to catch a break. “Do Not Disturb” was thrashed by critics and ignored by viewers, making this two years in a row that O’Connell failed to launch a comedy pilot (last year was “Carpoolers”). He seems to be a pretty funny actor, but his decision making of late has been terrible, so hopefully he can find something better then these last two debacles.

Chances of renewal: Canceled way back in September
Emmy chances: None

Dollhouse
Ratings:
Pilot: 4.72 million viewers
1st season average (9 episodes)- 3.99 million

What the critics say: “Though the show is quick and exciting in its particulars, slick and captivating in its details, it is unfolding slowly as a whole, with perhaps one too many investigations, conspiracies, return-of-the-repressed traumas, and busy backstories curling leisurely into view.” (Troy Patterson, Slate)

Analysis: All the ingredients were there to make “Dollhouse” a hit. Created by the man (Joss Whedon) behind cult favorite series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, starring a popular actress from “Buffy” (Eliza Dushku) and its appealing spot on Monday nights. But then everything started going downhill. First, FOX decided to forgo the pilot episode of the series, instead deciding to put money towards constructing an elaborate set to go with the context of the series. Then it was announced that “Dollhouse” would be moving from an attractive 8:00 timeslot on Monday nights behind a popular show attracting plenty of viewers (“24”), to a very unattractive positioning behind the little-watched “Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles” on Friday nights. This led to pilot episode viewed by less than five million viewers, followed by declining ratings soon thereafter. Then finally, a few weeks ago future guest star Felicia Day (Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog) posted on Twitter that the 13th episode of the season would not air, fueling rumors of an impending cancellation. I personally haven’t had a chance to watch the show, but from what I’ve heard the show deserves more attention then its received.

Chances for renewal: Slim, but Whedon insists that the show has not yet been canceled
Emmy Chances: None, except maybe in visual and special effects categories

Fringe
Ratings:
Pilot episode- 9.13 million viewers
1st season average (17 episodes)- 9.6 million

What the critics say: “With its paranormal occurrences, ever-autumn aesthetic, extraneous flashlight use at crime scenes, odd bursts of humor, and constant friction between faith and doubt, Fox’s new sci-fi serial Fringe just might be a worthy successor–finally–to “The X-Files.” (Gillian Flynn, Entertainment Weekly)

Analysis: Combining the science-fiction mysteries of “X-Files”, the action thrills of “Alias” and the genius of “Lost”, “Fringe” is already one of the more creative and interesting series on TV right now. The show has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise bad season for new shows, thanks in large part to its genius creator J.J. Abrams. He is the mastermind behind “Lost”, so it should come as no surprise that “Fringe” is filled with hidden messages, “easter eggs” and hints at future episodes. Abrams’ impact on the show is undeniable, but the reason the show has been so successful is because of the cast’s execution. Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson and company have given consistently good performances, but it is John Noble’s performance as the eccentric, insane and brilliant Dr. Walter Bishop. While not the mega hit that “Lost” has become, “Fringe” just keeps getting better as the season goes on, and as long as J.J. Abrams doesn’t run out of ideas, it will be here for the long-run.

Chances for renewal: Near-lock
Emmy Chances: John Noble SHOULD be a contender for “Best Supporting Actor”, and the show itself might be a long shot for “Best Drama”.

Lie to Me
Ratings:
Pilot episode- 12.37 million viewers
1st season avg. (10 episodes)- 10.58 million

What the critics say: “Lie to Me is derivative yet well crafted, predictable yet ever-so-slightly novel.” (Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly)

Analysis: FOX, especially in comparison to other networks, is pretty short on crime procedurals (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). But thanks to “Lie to Me”, FOX has itself one of the most popular new crime shows on network television. If not for Tim Roth’s convincing portrayal of lie detection expert Dr. Cal Lightman, “Lie to Me” would be just another cliché-ridden procedural. In terms of quality, there is no question “Lie to Me” is among the best new drams. As for its viewership, early on the show was consistently bringing in over 10 million viewers per episode (topping out at 13 million). But ever since Fox decided to move “Lie to Me” back an hour (to 8:00 on Wednesdays), the show lost its “American Idol” lead-in and viewership has steadily declined, bottoming out at yesterday’s 7.8 million viewers. Considering that the show is generally well-liked, and that Fox plans to air re-runs of the show throughout the summer, seem to indicate that “Lie to Me” will be renewed for a second season.

Chances for renewal- Near-lock
Emmy chances- Tim Roth is a contender for Best Actor, and the show is a long-shot for Best Drama