Fox announces 2017-18 schedule

Starlost: Seth MacFarlane (l.) created and stars in “The Orville”. (Fox)

Struggling network goes heavy on sci-fi, picks up Seth MacFarlane show

Fox released its 2017-18 schedule this morning in advance of its upfront presentation Monday afternoon and has considerable changes throughout the schedule.

The biggest move, Wednesday night sees the once-hot Empire move an hour earlier to accommodate the return of Star, the show that temporally replaced it last winter. Empire now goes up against The Blacklist and presumably, Survivor should the series stays in its current time slot (CBS unveils its schedule later this week.)

Meanwhile, Fox has picked up a few sci-fi based series for next season, including one from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane called The Orville, which is set on a U.S.S. vessel in space 400 years into the future – sounds an awfully like failed 1970’s syndicated sci-fi series The Starlost to yours truly. Missing are the styrofoam sets and wooden acting.

Fox scores a Marvel show for the first time by acquiring The Gifted, a show about a suburban couple who finds out their children have supernatural powers. Also new is Ghosted, a comedy featuring The Office’s Craig Robinson being paired with Adam Scott to fight aliens (sounds like a comedic version of The X-Files.)

Debuting midseason is new drama 9-1-1 and comedy LA to Vegas, and also returning midseason is New Girl, (which is ending after this season) and X-Files – two years after season eleven concluded. Not making the schedule next season at all is Scream Queens, out after two low-rated seasons.

The fall schedule features Lucifer paired with The Gifted on Mondays – a rare instance a DC and Marvel are airing together; Lethal Weapon moves to Tuesdays from Wednesdays and paired up with The Mick and Brooklyn Nine-Nine; as previously mentioned, Wednesdays has Empire and Star; Gotham moves to Thursdays and is paired with The Orville; Fridays has Hell’s Kitchen and the return of The Exorcist.

Adam Scott (l.) and Craig Robinson star in “Ghosted”. (Fox)

Saturdays is College Football most weeks; Fox gains rights to several Big Ten games this year, in addition to airing Big 12 and Pac 12 games. With the exception of Ghosted replacing Son of Zorn, Sundays remain unchanged.

Fox’s upfront presentation was heavy on sports, including Terry Bradshaw rapping (yes, rapping) and MacFarlane thinking he’s the second coming of Frank Sinatra. As a sci-fi geek, these new shows should make yours truly happy, but The Orville is the only show worth checking out while Gifted is meh at best and forget about Ghosted.

Fox finally pairs Empire with Star on Wednesdays, a move a few industry insiders suggested. But will Empire’s sex, drugs, violence, and rock ‘n roll (or in this case, hip-hop) play in an earlier time slot? Plus, tougher competition won’t help its ratings, which have declined significantly this year. As for Star, this garbage should’ve been canceled months ago.

Lethal Weapon moves to Tuesdays, but now faces The Voice and NCIS – good luck with that. The Mick and Nine-Nine being paired together is like matching Knicks fans with Nets fans (and like those teams, both shows are not really relevant.) And Sundays…let’s not talk about Sundays. At all. (though yours truly is happy Bob’s Burgers is back.)

While it would be nice for Fox to fill its late Saturday night slot with It’s Showtime At The Apollo – where it traditionally aired when it was in syndication (which is now being held for midseason to air in primetime), it remains with reruns for now – yet another missed opportunity.

Give some credit to Dana Walden and Gary Newman for trying to keep Fox relevant, but what do they have other than football? The brand people associate with Fox now is…a controversial news division who is in President Trump’s pocket and a place where sexist behavior and racial discrimination are running rampant. Certainly not the image Rupert Murdoch had in mind when he dreamt of launching a “fourth network” thirty years ago whose brand in its early years was fronted by Bart Simpson, Al Bundy, and the kids from Beverly Hills, 90210.

Fox has an identity crisis. Turning it into the second coming of UPN won’t help.

To see the fall schedule and read detailed descriptions of each show, including the complete list of midseason entries, click here.

Bonus: Here’s video from someone who was there at the upfronts during Fox Sports’ long presentation. Enjoy. If you can.