There’s been a general sense throughout the television industry that the networks might clean house this spring, saving up the few critical and cult hits they might otherwise get rid of (like, say, NBC’s Community and Fox’s Fringe)and then cancelling basically everything else. Well, consider that sense accurate because Fox kicked off the 2011 schedule announcement season by cancelling pretty much everything it had to cancel, then going back in time to re-cancel Firefly, Arrested Development, and Wonderfalls, because it somehow sensed the cancellation of Lie To Me wouldn't be satisfying enough.
As reported by Deadline and Hitfix, Fox ridded itself of every single show that was “on the bubble,” including relationship comedy Traffic Light, workplace comedy Breaking In, cop epic The Chicago Code, crime procedural Lie To Me, and misbegotten romantic comedy that sort of looked like an action drama if you squinted just right Human Target. The former three were all in their freshmen seasons. Lie To Me had somehow lasted three seasons and 48 episodes, while Human Target had lasted two and 25. It’s hard to imagine anyone getting too worked up over any of these shows. While all had their fans, they didn’t command the Internet legions previous cancelled series did, and it’s unlikely the TV fans of the future will pick up the complete series set of Breaking In and mourn for the wacky Christian Slater antics they’ll never get. But the network probably thought Firefly would go quietly, too.
The network, headed up by Kevin Reilly, doesn’t have a lot of room on its fall schedule as is, what with Simon Cowell’s Americanization of X Factor likely taking up two nights of TV time and a series commitment already granted to dinosaurs ‘n’ post-apocalyptic mayhem day-brightener Terra Nova, almost certainly the show everyone will be whining about the cancellation of come this time next year. (There’s some indication that the show may move to midseason, but no one’s going on the record in that regard.) Fox is so stacked that it looks unlikely to pick up Locke & Key, an adaptation of the Joe Hill comic series that originally got a firm series commitment when it was to air this summer. Instead, it pushed to fall contention, lost its commitment, and now looks like something that will pop up on bit torrent sites in a few years, to the confusion of Internet pirates.
Fox seems to have granted series orders to four new shows, two dramas and two comedies, according to Deadline. Internet excitement will probably focus on one of the comedies and one of the dramas. The comedy is The New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel and renamed from a pilot script entitled Chicks And Dicks. Written by Liz Meriweather (No Strings Attached), the show concerns a girl who leaves her boyfriend and moves in with a bunch of immature, wacky guys. Hijinks presumably ensue, and Deschanel probably stares moonily out the window, blue eyes highlighted by the glistening sun, which favors her. The drama is Alcatraz, a new series from Lost and Deadwood writer Elizabeth Sarnoff, produced by J.J. Abrams. Featuring Sam Neill, Sarah Jones, and Jorge “Hurley” Garcia, the series is an old-fashioned mystery show, just like mom used to make in the years roughly spanning from 2004 to 2007, about a group of escaped Alcatraz prisoners from the ‘60s who resurface in the present day. Considering it’s J.J. Abrams, expect the involvement of secret societies and giant red balls of free energy.
The other two new series are The Finder, a Bones spinoff starring Geoff Stults that all Bones fans seemed pissed off about when the back-door pilot aired a few weeks ago, and I Hate My Teenage Daughter, a multi-camera comedy starring Jaime Pressly as a mother who grew up tormented by “mean girls” and now realizes her own daughter has become one of those mean girls. Presumably, this is followed by a no-holds barred war in which only one woman will remain standing.
Fox may pick up a few more series (possibly for midseason), but it also let a number of potential pilots, including Iceland, a promising comedy from Community producer Andy Bobrow that featured one of the best comic scripts of pilot season, go. We’d like to say it let those shows down gently, but it’s far more likely that it slaughtered them inhumanely, with a dull knife still glistening with the blood of Traffic Light. And now that you have that image in your head, enjoy your work day!