State of the Networks: FOX (Part Two)

Zack Rosenblatt (’09)/Eastside Entertainment Editor

Returning Series

[note: all ratings as of April 26, and all critic quotes are based on most recently aired seasons]

24– in 7th Season

Ratings

1st season avg.- 8.6 million

2nd– 4th season average- 11.31 million

5th-6th season average- 13.39 million

24:Redemption- 12.1 million

Season 7 (19 episodes)- 12.8 million

What the critics say– “Whatever its flaws, this edition of 24 features smart, crisp and densely woven storytelling whose subplots look to be on a well-orchestrated collision course.” (Brian Lowry, Variety)

Analysis– Jack is back. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), finally returned to our television sets this year after a LONG hiatus. Officially, the show was off the air 20 months. But in reality, the show really hasn’t been ON for 32 months, as I don’t consider season 6 worthy of recollection. Anyway, “24” returned in January to the tune of 27 million viewers over the course of two nights, which was a slight decrease from Season 5 but still rather impressive. Back in November,

“24” debuted its first ever prequel with the TV movie “24: Redemption”. Although it wasn’t as good as a typical “24” episode, it set up the season nicely. As long as Kiefer Sutherland wants to continue his run as Jack Bauer, “24” will always have a place on Fox.

Chances of renewal: 100%

Emmy Chances: Prior to its mediocre season 6, “24” was nominated for the “Best Drama Series” five years in a row. Kiefer Sutherland has actually been nominated for his performance as Jack Bauer in all six seasons. While “24” is not the lock for nomination it once was, expect Kiefer to get his seventh nomination for his starring role. Other contenders include Cherry Jones (as President Allison Taylor) for “Supporting Actress” and Jon Voight for his guest-starring role as the villainous Jonas Hodges.

Bones– in 4th Season

Ratings

Pilot episode- 10.8 million viewers

1st season average- 8.9 million

2nd season average- 9.4 million

3rd season average- 8.9 million

4th season average- 9.9 million

What the critics say: “At times, the comedy tries too hard…but then there comes a moment where the writers get the characters dialed in just right, and then the show is irresistible.” (Alan Sepinwall, Newark-Star Ledger)

Analysis: “Bones” falls under the category of crime procedurals that try to put a different twist on the genre. The duo of David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel (sister of movie star Zooey) are the primary reason the show has managed to find any sort of success, as they seem to be at the center of the shows positive reviews. “Bones” has gradually gathered more viewers, and Fox seems to have enough confidence in the show to warrant future seasons.

Chances of renewal: Near-lock

Emmy chances: Little to no shot in most categories, as the show is well received, but not as acclaimed as most other dramas.

House– in 5th season

Ratings

Pilot episode: 7.1 million viewers

 1st season average- 13.3 million

2nd season average- 17.3 million

3rd season average- 19.4 million

4th season average- 16.2 million

What the critics say: “It’s wonderful stuff, and we all seem to be on a voyage of discovery.” (Verne Gray, Newsday)

Analysis– The pilot episode of “House” debuted to a mediocre seven million viewers, but oh how things have changed since then. “House” has become one of THE most popular shows on all of television, and is the highest rated scripted show on Fox network. Amazingly, the viewership success the show has experienced is matched with its critical acclaim. The show has been nominated for four “Best Drama Series” Emmys, and will likely nab its fifth straight nomination in 2009. The show is the most original medical drama in a long time, and some have even described the show as a mixture of “ER” and “CSI”. All of the shows success and acclaim can be attributed to one person; the shows star Hugh Laurie.

Chances for renewal: 10000000%

Emmy Chances: Laurie is a lock for his fourth Emmy nom, and “House” should also receive its fifth “Best Drama” nomination. Zeljko Ivanek might also be in contention for a “Guest Actor” nomination.

Prison Break– in fourth season

Ratings:

Pilot episode- 10.5 million viewers

1st season average- 9.2 million

2nd season average- 9.3 million

3rd season average- 8.2 million

4th season average (through 12/7)- 5.7 million

4th season average (two episodes on 4/17 and 4/24)- 2.9 million

What the critics say: “Preposterous ideas know no bounds on “Prison Break.” (Tim Goodman, San Francisco Chronicle)

Analysis: In its first season, “Prison Break” was a surprisingly successful addition to Fox’s Monday night line-up. Debuting in the typically weak (ratings-wise) summertime, the show managed to garner pretty good viewership in its debut. Over the course of the first season, the show developed a devoted fan base and was actually gathering some pretty good reviews. The show went on to garner to Golden Globe nominations for its first season, “Best Drama Series” and “Best Actor in a Drama Series” (Wentworth Miller). In its second season, ratings overall actually increased over the first season and the good reviews kept coming in. After that, the show slowly started to go down hill as ratings decreased by over 1 million viewers and the quality of the third season was clearly lacking in comparison to the first two. Now in its fourth season on Fox, “Prison Break” has managed to completely tank, in every sense of the word. The writers did a pretty job of expanding a ridiculous plot for three seasons, but this season it has become crystal clear that “Prison Break has worn out its welcome. Banished to Friday nights for its final episodes, the show has only managed a measly 5.7 million viewers total (!) for its two recently aired episodes. It really is a shame that this show has fallen so far, because its first season was some of the most entertaining hours of network television.

Chances of renewal: Already canceled, have two episodes left to air followed by a two-hour special on the Season 4 DVD

Emmy Chances: None

Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles– in second season

Ratings:

Pilot episode- 18.3 million viewers

1st season average (including pilot)- 11.4 million

1st season average (excluding pilot)- 8.39 million

2nd season average- 4.7 million

What the critics say: “My interest ebbs and flows depending not on the plot but on which character is in the action.” (Gillian Flynn, Entertainment Weekly)

Analysis– “Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles” (TSCC for short) started with a bang, as its pilot episode had a staggering 18.3 million viewers, powered by an all-out marketing push by Fox. Unfortunately, everything only went downhill from there as the strike-shortened first season gradually lost viewers as episode passed, bottoming out at 7 million viewers. Despite this, Fox (at least initially) felt confident enough in the show to renew it for a second season. With the highly anticipated (albeit un-related) Terminator: Salvation coming to theaters in 2009 it was seemingly the right decision. Then Fox strangely decided to exile “TSCC” to Friday nights (from Monday) effectively thwarting its chances at success. To start of the second season, the show debuted with 6.34 million viewers, lower numbers than any of the nine episodes in season 1, and has since tanked to the tune of 3.35 million viewers for an April 3rd episode.

Chances at renewal: Near-lock (for cancellation)

Emmy Chances: Outside of Special/Visual effects, nothing

‘Til Death– in third season

Ratings:

1st season avg.- 7.1 million

2nd season avg.- 6.1 million

3rd season avg.- 4.5 million

What the critics say: “There are occasional funny moments amid the raging comic mediocrity.” (Mike Duffy, Detroit Free Press)

Analysis: In 2007, two sitcoms starring former “Everybody Loves Raymond” stars (Patricia Heaton and Brad Garrett) debuted on Fox. Heaton’s sitcom averaged 8.1 million viewers per episode, was generally well received by critics (earned a 58 out of 100 on metacritic.com) and co-starred the great Kelsey Grammer (“Frasier”). The Brad Garrett sitcom averaged 7.1 million viewers, was bashed by critics (got a 37 out of 100 on metacritic) and co-starred the little known Joely Fisher. Logically, the Patricia Heaton starrer “Back to You” would have been chosen over Garrett’s “Til Death”, but obviously now that is not the case. Fox canceled “Back to You” before the end of its first season, and “Til Death” recently got renewed for a fourth season (especially strange since the third season was already cut short).

Chances for renewal: Already renewed

Emmy Chances: None

Overall Outlook

Locks: 24, House, Simpsons, Family Guy

Likely to return: Fringe, Bones, Lie to Me, American Dad

Already renewed/Should be on bubble: ‘Til Death

On the Bubble: Dollhouse, Sit Down Shut Up

Doomed for cancellation: King of the Hill, Sarah Connor, Prison Break