Thursday, December 14, 2006

Report Card IV: Fox in the Henhouse

Fox is the Jekyll and Hyde of network TV.

When the TV season kicks off, it offers very little and gets its butt kicked in the ratings. Come January, however, and Fox unleashes the monster that changes the landscape of TV: "American Idol."

With "AI" and the return of "24," Fox is actually in a position to do the butt-kicking in the winter. ABC has essentially acknowledged this, bumping back "Lost" to 10 p.m. so as not to compete with the "AI" phenomenon.

THE GOOD: Not a whole bunch between September and December. Fox really only had two shows of any quality that did well in the ratings - "Prison Break" and "House," and really only the latter can legitimately stake its claim as one of TV's best hours because the former often borders on the preposterous.

THE BAD: Virtually all of Fox's new shows this season bombed, including "Vanished" and "Justice." "Standoff" may make it through the rest of the season despite middling ratings because of the appeal of leads Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt. Shows such as "Bones" and "The O.C." have also seen a drop in the ratings.

Sitcom-wise, nothing the network has trotted out has been memorable, and even the quality of the Sunday night animation block has fallen off.

THE OY VEY, IS THAT UGLY: Fox was going to run its O.J. Simpson Special, "If I Did It," until the backlash against the network became so great that it had to pull it. When the network has to come in to put the leash on reality-savant Mike Darnell (see how I switched the words "reality" and "idiot?" Wasn't that cool?), you know they have crossed the line.

OUTLOOK: Despite lackluster fall ratings, Fox will be a contender by the end of the year because of its second-half schedule. How a network can keep its good stuff on the shelf for four months while foisting steaming piles of dog poo like "Vanished" upon us boggles the mind, but there you go. GRADE: C-

GOLDEN GLOBES: The list comes out today and will be in Friday's edition of The Telegraph. I will devote Monday's blog to the TV picks. I will say that I'm glad the voters remembered my favorite movie of 2006, "Thank You For Smoking." I hope the Oscar voters show the same savvy.

THURSDAY'S PICKS: Sadly, the first-run episodes of 2006 are fewer and fewer, but we do get one last holiday treat with the NBC Thursday night lineup, beginnig with a one-hour "The Office" at 8 p.m., followed by new episodes of "Scrubs" and "30 Rock" beginning at 9.

The ultimate holiday episode of any TV series ever is also supposed to be running tonight, when TBS re-airs the "Seinfeld" classic episode that introduced the world to Festivus. That Festivus remains part of the national culture nearly a decade after "Seinfeld" has left the airways really says something about our culture. What that is, however, I don't know. But I do have quite the long list of grievances to air. And I will be making my donations to The Human Fund.


Zodin2008 said...

And to make matters worse, Fox decided to keep it a secret that they were burning off the last few episodes of "Justice", a show we were enjoying, on Fridays, and I have missed the last 2 weeks. Are they available online?

Either way, Fox is a network that lives for 5 months off "American Idol" which is really sad on so many levels. How total crap like this is the highest rated show on TV while a "Veronica Mars" has to scrounge for 3 million viewers is maybe the most unfair split, ever.

Anonymous said...


You do not understand that the intelligence o the average viewer is at about 8th grade level.

Phillip Ramati said...

People will watch what they watch. There's no accounting for taste.