Fox's Fall schedule, night by night: Steven Spielberg, meet your new roommate, Simon Cowell

Fox has become the most schizophrenic network, with its relentless pursuit of the minimally talented in its reality programming, and its equally relentless pursuit of maximum quality in its scripted series. Any ads for its fall schedule might as well just consist of busts of two gigantic heads: Steven Spielberg, whose lavishly-budgeted Terra Nova is bound to be the season’s biggest economic and reputation-affecting production, and Simon Cowell, from whose waggling brow has sprung a Stateside version of The X Factor talent show, a sure-fire ratings-getter out of the gate.

There will be much initial curiosity over the state of Paula Abdul’s mental health and the degree to which Cowell will temper his temper to suit the current atmosphere of kind, positive, nurturing criticism that prevails on American Idol, The Voice, The Sing-Off, and probably The O’Reilly Factor any day now. After that, however, it’s going to take some effort on Fox’s part to keep X Factor from becoming The World Has Got Slightly Less Talent Than We Thought.

As for Terra Nova, this is one big-budget gamble I’m rooting for. Its concept — families from the future sent back to prehistoric time to save the world — is one of those extravagant notions that can work as absorbing fun with a potentially rich mythology, or as inadvertently campy giggle-fest, or as a grand folly that will be fun (provided you don’t have a paycheck involved in making the thing) to witness implode. Plus, I always root for anything that involves Stephen Lang, an actor whose TV work I’ve admired at least as far back as Michael Mann’s Crime Story.

In keeping with Fox’s tradition of scatter-shot programming that doesn’t cohere as a philosophy but succeeds by being The Network You Turn To When There’s Nothing You Want To See On The Other Networks, this season looks rather ripe.

Monday: Terra Nova leads off at 8, suggesting it’ll be at least somewhat family-friendly (and only slightly increases the chances it may ultimately resemble Land of the Lost). It’s followed by House, which may be headed into its last season, should Hugh Laurie decide it’s time to put the Old Gimp out to pasture.

Tuesday: Fox is all about squeezing every ounce of profit it can from Glee, even as the network must worry about the increasing division among its viewership about whether the show has undergone a creative renewal or a descent into musical ADD. It will be followed by New Girl, a show that will rise or fall entirely on the extent to which you find Zooey Deschanel charming, because it’s all about her as a gawky lovable sprite surrounded mostly by admiring men. I find her quite charming.

Wednesday: X Factor, for 90 minutes. Hey, there are four judges and two hosts — they need the time. At 9:30, it’s sitcom time. Much as I like Jamie Pressly, I Hate My Teenage Daughter looked like a chore to sit through, for the same reason Fox probably picked it up: It plays up antagonism between mothers and daughters. And the daughters seem really mean. And the mothers seem really needy. Can’t we all just get enough of that in our own lives, or from the lives of our friends?

Thursday: The X Factor results show. Don’t people tape results shows and watch ‘em later?

Friday: Nothing to pay attention to until Fringe returns.

Saturday: The usual Cops-a-palooza.

Sunday: Animation domination continues, and squeezed between The Simpsons and Family Guy will be Allen Gregory, a cartoon created and voiced by Jonah Hill. I know that I should be enthused about any show whose central character is a well-spoken, mostly-polite young man — there are so few of them on TV, live or animated — but the clip shown at Fox’s upfront presentation made Allen Gregory look dismayingly prim. I wouldn’t pass final judgment on it at this point, and in its favor, the animation style is clean, crisp, and as bright as Allen himself. At the very least, Allen Gregory will be a visual tonic when compared to the sub-Hanna-Barbera animation of the Seth MacFarlane empire.

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (45 total) Add your comment
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  • johnc11

    I guess Ken should not watch any TV since nothing pleases you!

    Wait, it is Ken’s job to watch TV. Maybe he should retire.

    • what is your problem

      Ken Tucker, go to The Coffee Bean and drink a bunch of coffee sometime. You just seem very tired and grumpy. Get yourself together!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Hilarious

      I don’t know anyone who watches any show on Fox. I’m happy about that.

      • joblo

        you don’t know ANYONE who watches American Idol or The Simpsons or Glee or House? I do not believe you.

      • kate middleton

        Wow, you must not know many people. American Idol is the #1 show on tv, and House, Bones, Family Guy and Glee are also in the Top 20.

      • JimC

        All his friends are watching NBC. LOL

  • Liz

    I have no interest in any of their new shows. Bring back Breaking In.

    • Jennifer The TruthTeller

      Liz = Dirty Shrew

    • Wendy

      Breaking In is hilarious. I love it. I’m sorry they didn’t give it a real chance. What 6 episodes?

  • Jeff

    I love Stephen Lang too but the true day to day creative forces behind Terra Nova (such as Brannon Braga) are the same “minds” that gave us FlashForward and much of the mess that Star Trek tv series descended into before JJ Abrams brought it back. If Spielberg were more involved directly as opposed to financially, it might have a chance but, knowing the quality of what the creators have done previously, it’s going to be a good looking visual mess that will be extinct just like its subject matter.

  • joblo

    Fox used to be one of the networks I watched the most. But I dropped Idol this year. 24 – the Greatest Show In History – is over. I really liked Traffic Light but that didn’t make it. There’s nothing left for me to watch here, though I may try Terra Nova because that sounds cool.

    • Nicole

      House is an awesome show, give that a try!!!

    • Tim

      24 was stupid. Unles you ignored all the plot holes. Chicago Code was better.

      • janhus

        I was disappointed that FOX dropped Chicago Code. I felt it was one of the 2 best cops shows on TV. Justified being the other one. I’m also going to miss Hard Target. It was a totally enjoyable adventure show. FOX has a tendency to drop shows too soon before thay have a chance to build a base.

  • Cam

    The only show I am interested in is Terra Nova. I really hope that it is not all flash and no substance.

    • Nicole

      Terra Nova sounds like Land of the Lost that I watched years ago

  • huh?

    TV hates you right back, Ken. maybe you should try reading some books at night?

  • Flip

    Terra Nova does not interest me. X Factor does, but looks like it’ll conflict with Survivor and The Vampire Diaries. I’ll just be sticking with The Simpsons and Glee, thank you very much.

  • AuntieMM

    So they cancelled America’s Most Wanted in favor of four specials. So Saturdays will be all COPS???

  • Reba

    What about Raising Hope???

    • kate middleton

      It’s scheduled for Tuesdays at 9:30. Glee at 8, New Girl (Zooey Deschanel) at 9 and Raising Hope at 9:30.

    • janhus

      I thought Raising Hope was to be on the schedule. Another good show bites the dust?

  • Jim

    Terra Nova is the only original idea on the schedule, which means it will not last past November sweeps.

  • JC

    I was real into Terra Nova at first, but the constant delays and now an 8 pm time slot seem to indicate it’s going to be a lot more cheesy than good. Hopefully that’s not the case. Still interested in it though.

  • BH

    Not a lot of changes for the network but to see my full opinion go to

  • MaryJane

    Terra Nova seems ambitious and a cool idea, clearly it will be cancelled after 1 episode. Zooey Deschanel is adorable, in small doses. I hope she’s not in every scene. Her sister on Bones is insufferable, blech

  • J

    Even though Spielberg’s behind Terra Nova, storyline really hasn’t piqued my interest. Except for Glee and Fringe, nothing for me here.

    RIP Lie to Me.

    • J

      Hmmm. I’ll also have to try Alcatraz midseason.

      Can’t resist J.J.’s creations. :p

  • Mo

    Tape the results show????? I just google who got booted out after it’s over in the east coast , hours before they announce it in the west coast where I live. That’s all I need. Even when the AI results show was thirty minutes, I found that to be twenty-five minutes too long. This way I can devote my Thursday night to Community, Parks and Rec, Bones, 30 Rock, and whatever else might be left in my DVR.

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