You scrapped ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ for this? Why Fox’s TV strategy is baffling
Fox has unveiled its 2018-2019 schedule and honestly, we’re flummoxed. Just last week the world very nearly came to a certain end (a very reasonable assertion and totally not hyperbolized) when the network announced it had cancelled Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Thankfully NBC threw on a superhero cape and saved the day by swooping in and buying the beloved sitcom. That cancellation was baffling enough, but the news that Fox is moving forward with a Prison Break revival (after a clunky fifth season aired in 2016 where Wentworth Miller’s character inexplicably came back from the dead) as well as optioning ideas for a 24 reboot compels us to ask: what the hell is Fox doing?
According to IndieWire, Fox TV Group chairman Dana Walden suggested Brooklyn Nine-Nine was cancelled “based on a variety of factors” such as not having “the right place to schedule it” and wanting “to give Bob’s Burgers an opportunity to have a plum time period and opportunity to grow.” Though we love Bob’s Burgers and are happy to see it being given more time to thrive, it’s a little disingenuous to be using it as the foil that eventually kicked Brooklyn Nine-Nine off the schedule for good.
While Fox has several interesting new shows on the horizon such as The Cool Kids, a sitcom about a retirement community from the makers of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; Rel, a comedy based on the life of LilRel Howery (Get Out); and The Passage, an apocalyptic drama based on Justin Cronin’s best-selling trilogy of the same name (and starring 90s dreamboat Mark-Paul Gosselaar), it has also added Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing to the schedule. The sitcom spent seven seasons on ABC before being surprisingly revived by Fox – presumably because what America needs right now is an outdated comedy about an old grumpy white guy raging at the world. Go figure.
As a result, the current fall schedule features an odd and frankly random looking mish mash of shows that bring the current identity of the network into question. For instance, on Friday nights Last Man Standing will be followed by The Cool Kids and topped off by an episode of Hell’s Kitchen. (Because who doesn’t want to see cooking nightmares after an hour of retirement comedy?)
Meanwhile Wednesday nights are occupied by Empire and Star – two shows that work perfectly together but that sit uneasily among the rest of the week’s offerings – and Monday nights feature the strange double whammy of The Orville and 9-1-1. With fan favorite sitcom Ghosted (starring the always wonderful Adam Scott and Craig Robinson) currently facing an uncertain future at Fox, the network appears to also be facing an odd crisis of identity and strategy.
We can only imagine based on its recent decisions that Fox’s strategy has been figured out using a variety of classic problem solving tools like throwing darts at pictures, picking names out of a hat, and racing interns bearing the names of different shows around the office each lunch hour. If that’s the case, whatever speedy kid was wearing the Last Man Standing name tag has a lot of explaining to do and as for Prison Break and 24? Honestly, they should have been pulled off the damn dartboard years ago.