TCA: Fox comes out swinging

Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly.
Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly.

The Fox presentation during TCA was quite feisty as Entertainment President Kevin Reilly touched on a number of subjects from the death of Glee’s Corey Montieth to audience measurement:

– Reilly – like other network chiefs – was frustrated about how little respect broadcast network shows get compared to their cable counterparts. He pointed out The Mindy Project was the highest rated freshman show last season with a 2.2 adult demo rating, but lower rated series such as Breaking Bad, Dexter, and Homeland get all the buzz. Fox is looking to slow down on repeat programming and move them to other platforms. Reilly also said he wants more new series to debut year-around as opposed to the traditional fall start.

Reilly also said the late Cory Moneith’s character on Glee will be written out of the show, likely being killed off. Moneith was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room on July 20. As for Glee itself, Reilly said the series would likely end in 2015, barring any developments. Reilly also remain committed to producing new programming on low-HUT Friday nights; had picked up the American rights to produce BBC’s Broadchurch; and said Keith Urban would return as a judge on American Idol next season.

First up was Sleepy Hollow, which bears a uncanny resemblance to Once Upon A Time and Grimm, retells the 1820 short story written by Washington Irving. Ichabod Crane dies during a mission for George Washington and wakes up in 2040 in Sleepy Hollow. The Headless Horseman, who Ichabod head cuts off, is also along for the ride – and also gets his head back. This show sounds rather confusing – and uninteresting.

Next was Brooklyn Nine-Nine with Adam Samberg in a comedy that was already getting positive buzz. Though the series is set in a Brooklyn police station, its a a “workplace comedy” and not a spoof or satire, notes Samburg and creators/producers Dan Goor and Michael Schur. The single-cam comedy also focuses on solving serious crimes and personal issues outside the workplace, they note. In casting, the duo wanted the series to reflect the real diversity of a Brooklyn district office.

At the panel, it seemed reporters were more interested in the future of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, the show both Goor and Schur worked on previous to Nine-Nine. Both men wouldn’t elaborate on the show’s fate, but said the writers are proceeding normally.

– Some critics bailed out on the Junior Masterchef session, with Gordon Ramsey on stage with pint-sized contestants. Critics asked whether or not they were afraid of Ramsey (they weren’t) to what kind of safety precautions the show took to protect the kiddie contestants (fortunately, no accidents happened.) But this latest Gordon Ramsey venture proves how Fox needs to develop more programming and not cannibalizing their existing brands. In addition to Hell’s Kitchen, there’s the regular MasterChef and Kitchen Nightmares. What’s next, a daytime Gordon Ramsey talk show?

Next was Almost Human, a police drama set in Los Angeles 35 years in the future about a police officer teamed up with an Android (no, not a smartphone) to fight crime. Creator/executive producer J.H. Wyman said the series is no Fringe – the low-rated sci-fi show which ended its run after five seasons last fall. Even though the series isn’t serialized, Wyman remarked he and his team would “present a compelling case every week that involves these characters.” The oddest question asked at this panel is whether or not the Android character would “get it on” sexually: Wyman said that was “unlikely to happen” (but it comforting to know that Ironside will have sex at least.)

Perhaps the shortest panel at TCA – and the most ostracized – was the one for Dads from Seth MacFarlane and producers of Ted. The panel featured producer Mike Scully and stars Seth Green and Martin Mull – and spent much of the time defending the show regarding the show’s racist and sexist jokes – and of course an Asian character (played by Brenda Song) dressing provocatively to impress a business client. During the panel, many critics and reporters vented on Twitter, with Dads trending and of course, a lot of people joining in bashing the show (including yours truly.)

Scully compared the criticism of Dads to the reaction of The Simpsons‘ early seasons – especially regarding Homer strangling Bart as a now “beloved act of child abuse” –  a line he practically lifted from the show’s eleventh season finale, Behind The Laughter (Scully was an executive producer of the series at the time.)

Despite the clueless columnist who prematurely proclaimed Dads would be a hit because critics wouldn’t like it (if that were the case, Animal Practice and Allen Gregory would be absolute smashes), the show faces tough competition from NCIS and The Biggest Loser – not to mention Marvel’s Agents of Shield. If anyone is offended by Dads, they’ll be comforted to know the series won’t likely last long. A sure bet for The T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame.

Finally, X Factor closed out the day for Fox as Simon Cowell’s talent show introduced new judges Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio to the audience, replacing Britney Spears and L.A. Reid. Cowell reduced the grand prize to $1 million from $5 million, and had this to say about last year’s judging panel: “It’s like having a dinner party – you invite people for dinner and sometimes it’s a fun night and sometimes not as fun as you thought it was going to be.”