Category Archives: FOX

Upfronts Analysis: FOX 2008-2009 Fall Schedule

“A Subtle Improvement”

FOX 2008-2009 Fall Schedule

In the past, I’ve complained a lot about FOX’s scheduling practices – rather than using their biggest shows to produce strong lead-ins for new shows that need attention, they have instead chosen a path wherein they waste it on reality shows or (what I consider to be) derivative comedies. And really, their fall schedule is always a little bit of a crapshoot: considering that American Idol isn’t on it, FOX is kind of hoping for subtle success before its juggernaut wins the season outright in a few months time.

This time around, I admire their scheduling far more – sure, it isn’t perfect by any means, and they’re only debuting two new shows, but there’s a smart decision that signifies that FOX is no longer being idiots about how to handle their top shows, and to create hit new shows in their place.

New Shows

Fringe – Tuesdays at 9

It has a big-budget pilot, Lost producer J.J. Abrams on board, and most importantly has the best slot on the schedule: the newly created spot post-House on Tuesday nights. This is a smart way to create a lead-in, without question – the only concern is that the two-hour pilot will have to air without a lead-in, so I almost wonder if FOX will divide it in two just to make sure the show doesn’t get off on a weak foot. (Final details of the schedule sees Fringe airing its two-hour premiere on August 26th).

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Cultural Learnings’ Fall 2007 Lineup: Tuesdays

[The above/below is really quite tentative, if only because of CTV’s lack of a consistent Fall Schedule. Right now, Gossip Girl is airing a day before its U.S. airings on CTV in Canada, so I’m covering it a day early. However, Pushing Daisies is debuting in the same timeslot two weeks from now. I expect Pushing Daisies to get moved, but this could all change]

Tuesdays are a perfect day for television at Cultural Learnings thanks to a relatively light schedule on Wednesdays. Of course, spiting me once again, the TV deities weren’t kind enough to offer a plethora of shows on this particular evening. As a result, let’s look at the three shows that (for now) have made the cut into the rotation.


FOX’s biggest drama series has never quite had itself in a state of upheaval like this one: with Chase, Foreman and Cameron unemployed and a new set of residents incoming (Including Kal Penn (Kumar) and Olivia Wilde (The O.C.’s resident lesbian)), it seems like a good time to start paying closer attention to Hugh Laurie and company. I’m hoping this new element might cut down on the procedural predictability, but we’ll see.

Cultural Learnings’ House Coverage


Faced with the enormous task of battling off with House, a show that controls all sectors of the viewing audience, Reaper might struggle to gain traction. However, its pilot is quite sharp, and I think that there is a lot of potential in its concept that is worth investigating further. A few weeks in, I might be begging people to stop watching House to switch over to The CW for a change, but we’ll see if it even lasts that long. Fingers crossed.

Cultural Learnings’ Reaper Coverage

Gossip Girl

Earlier this evening, I already started covering this new drama from O.C. creator Josh Schwartz; it’s one of those shows where slick production values and adequate writing elevate what may otherwise be tossed aside as teen fare. My cynicism may grow too large to be contained within shorter articles, but for now we’re going to follow the Serena/Blair battle until the bitter end.

Cultural Learnings’ Review: Gossip Girl


Filed under 2007 Fall Preview, CTV, FOX, Gossip Girl, House, Reaper, Television, The CW

Highlights and Lowlights: The Emotional Rollercoaster of the 2007 Emmy Awards

I won’t attempt to claim that I am any different than the myriad of television writers out there: I was never going to “like” the outcome of the Emmy Awards. My cynicism was front and center when it came to reacting to the winners, and even the more positive moments were passed off as exceptions to the rule, not a sign of changes to Emmy’s usual stagnation.

But even weighing this predisposed opinion regarding the validity of the ceremony, last night’s award show was perhaps the most emotionally manipulative in some time. By the end, it actually had us cynics doubting the most well-established prediction of the entire evening: The Sopranos winning Best Drama Series. Of course, David Chase’s departing HBO series won that Emmy, but I actually for a second doubted that.

And I don’t know if it’s good or bad: the emotional rollercoaster that the night represented hit so many inversions that anything seemed possible. Perhaps I am simply extremely malleable, but I was right along with them with my own emotional corkscrews and loop-to-loops. And, as such, I use those emotions to feature the highlights and lowlights of the 2007 Emmy Awards.

Disbelief FOX Pre-Show Uses Britney to Push Ratings

This rumour that Britney Spears would appear and apologize for the VMAs incident fascinated me. Not because I was interested in Britney, of course, but rather I was fascinated that anyone actually believed it. The fact that FOX would prey on that public misconception throughout the pre-show, as if they didn’t know whether she was present, shouldn’t surprise me…but that was the reaction it elicited. [Sidenote: Why was there no actual Countdown on the Countdown to the Emmys?]

Discomfort – Awkward and Inappropriate Jokes and Cuts

Early on, the Emmys hit a rather unfortunate stride: an awkwardly impersonal opening animation act from Brian and Stewie from Family Guy, a questionable cut from a joke about Isaiah Washington to T.R. Knight within said segment, and then Neil Patrick Harris’ unfortunate jailbait joke regarding Hayden Pannetiere – all within about fifteen minutes. It continued on into the rest of the night (Brad Garrett, anyone?), and even Seacrest had some borderline “humour” in his repetoire.

Nostalgia – Emmy Rewards People for the Past

Terry O’Quinn. Jaime Pressley. Katherine Heigl. Conan O’Brien. These four are, amongst others, representing a particular trend: deserving performers who really should have won their respective awards in previous years. O’Quinn was robbed for his turn on Lost’s first season, but remains deserving this year, and the same can be said for Pressley even if my heart was with Jenna Fischer. And Late Night with Conan O’Brien had never won a single Emmy, so its victory in Writing was a long-deserved one.

But Heigl, despite her radiance and grace on stage, really deserved to be recognized for last season’s arc with Denny, as opposed to this season’s whiny George/Izzie period. Her character became one-dimensional and one-note, and even if she remained strong I don’t see that as a worthy winner of this award.

Confusion – The Sopranos go Broadway

I am still trying to decipher just why we had a musical tribute to the Sopranos from the cast of Jersey Boys. The music didn’t particularly relate to the series, and it seemed like a simple video tribute (Maybe asking various stars their thoughts on The Sopranos) and then the curtain call would have been both shorter and more fitting. The theatrical and broad is not, although FOX may disagree, necessary in every single situation.

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Filed under 30 Rock, American Idol, Award Shows, Brothers & Sisters, Emmy Awards, FOX, Grey's Anatomy, Lost, My Name is Earl, Television, The Amazing Race, The Office, The Sopranos, Ugly Betty

Emmys 2007: What Sally Field Said to Get Bleeped by FOX

On tonight’s Emmy broadcast, Sally Field was giving an impassioned speech about mothers and war after winning for “Brothers & Sisters”. After stumbling, she ended with the following comment, paraphrased:

“If mothers ruled the world, there would be no god-damned war.”

For viewers in Canada, this was heard verbatim. For viewers on FOX in the U.S., the conclusion was bleeped out.

While there remains issues over the use of god, for obvious reasons, it raises an important question:

If this was on any network other than FOX, run by Rupert Murdoch, would it have been bleeped out at all?

We’ll see the fallout from this over the next few days. At the end of the Emmy broadcast, Sopranos creator David Chase joked that “If gangsters ruled the world…maybe they do.” Will it be a laughing matter in tomorrow’s papers? Only time will well.


Filed under Award Shows, Emmy Awards, FOX

Liveblogging the 2007 Primetime Emmy Awards

Welcome to Cultural Learnings’ LiveBlog for the 2007 Emmy Awards! We’ve done a week’s worth of coverage leading up to this moment, and now it’s time to see how the awards turn out, starting with the one-hour pre-show and moving into the three-hour broadcast. So stay tuned to see just how much the Academy is going to miss The Sopranos during tonight’s Emmys broadcast.

[With the show now over, Cultural Learnings has posted its Highlights and Lowlights post that summarizes a lot of the feelings within this LiveBlog. Admittedly, there isn’t 7000 words there, so it’s a bit easier to digest. – Myles]

6:57 pm: Everything is set – admittedly, I’m watching on my snowy antenna connection, but it’s more than adequate to be able to tell Ryan Seacrest from Brian Dunkleman.

7:00pm: And we’re here with…Mark Steines! And…Laila Spencer? Someone from The Insider. And it is Ellen Degeneres to open the show, which is perhaps fitting considering her nomination in Individual Performance in a Variety Series. Her prediction: Tony Bennett. I really want Colbert to jump her at this point. However, I do believe she is quite good at this: she called Elaine Stritch beating her a few years back. Doesn’t bode well for Colbert.

7:02pm: Oh, I hate this person! Ugh, poor Kate Walsh, has to deal with this Britney Spears question. She does not deserve this type of idiotic punishment. Are they seriously going to try to milk this entire preview pretending Britney Spears is going to publicly apologize to the ENTIRETY of humankind? Because no.

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Filed under Award Shows, Emmy Awards, Entertainment, Entourage, FOX, Lost, My Name is Earl, Television, The Amazing Race, The Office, The Simpsons, The Sopranos

Reflections: FOX’s ‘On The Lot’ Ends with Spielberg

This evening will be a strange night of television for viewers who tune in to see the finale of FOX’s On the Lot, airing tonight at 8pm on FOX. Shortened to one night and quietly eliminating contestants each week with not even the tiniest bit of fanfare, the show will pretend tonight as if none of that ever happened.

They will pretend that the show has been a huge success, that they actually bred “America’s Filmmaker,” and Steven Spielberg himself will be forced to, whether live or via satellite from the Indiana Jones set, congratulate the winner and welcome them to the fold.

This is going to be an incredibly awkward experience for Spielberg, I imagine, stepping so close to a property to which his attached name has probably been of some concern. Right now, Spielberg is probably thinking that a hugely successful On the Lot would have worked wonders: he could have had the final three filmmakers visit the set of Indiana Jones to build up some hype, maybe show a tiny bit of footage, really get the pulse of America excited about his new film.

Instead, he’ll have an audience of likely less than three million people, and no pulse to speak of. This, clearly, was not what Burnett and Spielberg imagined.

The failure of the show happened for a simple reason: even if its individual episodes proved entertaining, there was not enough incentive for people watching to become emotionally invested in these people. On American Idol, they can buy their records and listen to them on the radio. In the case of On the Lot, they might eventually theoretically see a film directed, not even starring, them.

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Filed under FOX, On The Lot, Television

Why Ryan Seacrest is hosting the Emmy Awards

Today, it was announced that Ryan Seacrest would be hosting the 59th Annual Emmy Awards to air in September on FOX. There are a variety of reasons why this is happening:

Corporate Synergy (The Emmys are airing on FOX, why give time to a non-FOX performer?), Idol Pity (American Idol may well become the most nominated show never to win an Emmy this year: FOX is making sure the show isn’t completely forgotten),  plus It’s the Cool Thing to Do (Seacrest just got announced as FOX’s host for the Super Bowl red carpet, so he is clearly the go-to guy on FOX’s call list.)

However, I’d say that the real reason that Seacrest is hosting the Emmys is that, well, FOX is just that darn uninspired in their choices to host the show. They’ve got an entire lineup full of options, and yet they turn to the most predictable one in the bunch. Let’s take a look at some of this options.

…ummm…well, you know there’s…uhhh…

See, there really isn’t another viable option from FOX’s perspective. They don’t have late night personalities to speak of, at least not ones important enough to run an Awards show, and they lack any sort of star power outside of their Idol juggernaut.

Because Seacrest wasn’t picked because he’s funny (he’s not) or particularly knowledgeable about television (Don’t really think he is). This is literally an example of a red carpet reporter moving into a position where he needs to carry a show. There won’t be Simon, Paula and Randy there to bail him out, and while he does a good job with Idol I think this is a slightly different beast altogether.

Regardless, we’ll see how he performs in just under a month’s time. In the meantime, stay tuned to Cultural Learnings for major Emmy coverage in the coming weeks.

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Filed under American Idol, Award Shows, Emmy Awards, FOX

Summer TV Wrapup: Best Show About Karaoke – “Don’t Forget the Lyrics!”

Okay, let’s be honest: we don’t really need two shows about lyrics, or karaoke, or whatever we want to call this particular brand of programming. NBC’s The Singing Bee and FOX’s Don’t Forget the Lyrics should, by all logic, cancel one another out from my cultural consciousness. However, in the end, I think that it’s important to declare a winner in this epic showdown. And, contrary to my initial opinion, I think that Don’t Forget the Lyrics is the clear winner.

Originally, my inclination moved to The Singing Bee a more traditional game show which is a genre that I have a soft spot for. However, in its second episode, it was clear that NBC’s series was far too rushed to be worth my time. The show had no momentum, no groove if you will: each episode was as personality-less as the last, and the various different gimmicky lyric challenges showed their inability to feel comfortable with their formula.

And really, while I might like to sit down with a predictable and simplistic game show when flipping through the channels, I don’t really see it as primetime viewing. And I think that’s the problem: the show just doesn’t feel like something is taking place. It lacks any weight, any drama, any comedy. It lacks, well, everything.

While I originally plastered it for being derivative, over time it has become clear that Don’t Forget the Lyrics has managed to stabilize into about as good as it could possibly become. The contestants have personality, the amount of singing feels better and more entertaining, and “playing along” feels much more natural. People make choices, and therefore we can relate to their decisions and make our own at home.

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Filed under Don't Forget the Lyrics, FOX, NBC, Reality TV, Television, The Singing Bee

Summer TV Wrapup: The Biggest Flop(s) – Pirate Master and On the Lot

It is no coincidence that the two shows that have tied for the Summer TV Wrapup recognition of The Biggest Flop have something in common. Mark Burnett created Survivor and The Apprentice, and immediately rocketed into the upper echelon of reality TV producers. He’s the only one who is a personality, a character in his own way. While this usually helps him, it has actually made his fall from grace this summer all the more damaging. Pirate Master (CBS) and On the Lot (FOX), two sure-fire hits, flopped this summer, and Mark Burnett is the man to hold accountable for that fact.

Pirate Master suffered from the very beginning from both poor ratings and a lack of cultural buzz. While the show was not terrible, it was criminally derivative: it didn’t deviate far enough from the Survivor formula to bring in new viewers, and its failure proves that people aren’t watching Survivor because of its quality but rather because it’s Survivor.

The show was cancelled 2/3rds of the way through its run, and will spend the remainder of its time on The show never had the personality, never had the host, and never had the magic touch we’re used to seeing from Mark “Midas” Burnett. In failing to live up to that pedigree, it was by far one of the summer’s biggest flops.

Cultural Learnings’ Summer “Pirate Master” Coverage

On the Lot, meanwhile, had all the pedigree you’d usually need: Burnett was not only attached as producer, but so was legendary director Steven Spielberg. It was supposed to be FOX’s buzzworthy summer hit, but they forgot something very important: the summer viewing audience aren’t movie geeks.

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Filed under FOX, On The Lot, Pirate Master, Reality TV, Television

Pilot Preview: FOX’s “Sarah Connor Chronicles”

I have a confession to make: I’ve never actually sat down and watched the Terminator movies. While I’ve been catching up on television over the past few years in terms of what I missed in the days before my obsession, films have yet to receive the same treatment. And so, James Cameron’s films (I’m ignoring T3) have basically no resonance on my opinion of FOX’s new drama series, Sarah Connor Chronicles, which extends that universe into the world of television.

And so, when I offer my opinion, I can only do so as someone who has no idea if it’s destroying the mythology or ruining the franchise even more than T3 did. What I do know is that the pilot is a fast-paced adrenaline ride that creates the proper breeding ground for an action drama series that hasn’t quite actually grown yet, and that I don’t think it can possibly keep up this pace.

Therefore, let’s just say right now that the pilot is an entertaining 43 minutes of television drama, well-directed by David Nutter and generally well cast. I had a few quibbles with the writing in terms of Summer Glau’s female Terminator, but these are more or less quibbles in the grand scheme of things. The action feels real, the pacing seems right, and the plot that is revealed is neither too daunting nor too miniscule to drive interest in the series.

But, the important question is, where to we go from here? The pilot opens a whole host of doors for the series, and yet it gives absolutely no indication of which one it will enter. Let’s investigate these doors, and then we’ll try to piece together where the series goes from here.

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Filed under 2007 Fall Preview, FOX, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Television