Fox brings familiar faces back for 2018-19

Tim Allen? Vicki Lawrence? The once edgy Fox brand is history as the network retools to attract older audiences

Fox announced its 2018-19 schedule and it is a radical departure from what it was in years past. In the 1990s, Fox was synonymous with “hip, edgy programming” with The Simpsons, Beverly Hills 90210, In Living Color, and Melrose Place dominating the schedule. Today, the lineup has a canceled ABC show whose 64-year old star was on Home Improvement two-and-a-half decades ago, and a woman who once donned a wig on Mama’s Family and headlined her own daytime talk show from Group W in the early 1990s.

You can thank the recent “deal” sending much of 21st Century Fox’s assets to The Walt Disney Corp., (or Comcast, who is considering making another bid) as “New Fox” is taking shape earlier than expected. It appears the new schedule is meant to appease affiliates given the unconventional fare (tons of single-cam “hipster” comedies such as New Girl) weren’t solid lead-ins to their local newscasts, although in Chicago, this has actually been the opposite.

The difference between today and the 1990s is many Fox affiliates did not have local news operations back then. And the seeds “New Fox” planted actually came in 1994 when the network made a deal with New World Communications, who switched their then-twelve stations from traditional, local news-producing Big 3 affiliates to Fox in markets such as Dallas, Detroit, and Atlanta. Certainly, the success of American Idol in the 2000s kept the lights on and provided a steady revenue stream to the network.

And with the success of the Roseanne reboot on ABC – the outspoken Trump supporter at age 65 has network executives reexamining the fare they’ve been producing and whether if it’s mainstream enough outside of New York and Los Angeles. Fox thinks it can strike lightning again with Allen and Standing. The sitcom continues to post strong numbers in off-network syndication – especially at WGN-TV, who airs back-to-back episodes weeknights at 8 p.m. when not pre-empted by sports.

With younger audiences migrating to streaming services – a problem for every broadcast network, “New Fox” is  focusing less on scripted series (serialized ones in particular), and more on sports and live events and some reality shows. Nevertheless, the show must go on.

The beginning of the week is heavy on dramas with three consecutive nights: Mondays has The Resident and 9-1-1; Tuesdays has The Gifted and Lethal Weapon (who recently replaced Clayne Crawford as co-star); and Wednesdays has the returning Empire and Star.

Thursdays has football of course, but no programming was announced for the night when it doesn’t air the NFL.

Tool Man Taylor is back. (ABC/Adam Taylor)

Fridays has Last Man Standing back in its old time slot when it was son ABC, followed by another multi-cam sitcom, The Cool Kids with Vicki Lawrence. Hell’s Kitchen finishes up the night.

Saturdays has college football and repeat programming; Sundays has The Simpsons; Bob’s Burgers; Family Guy; and an another multi-cam sitcom, Rel.

Fox has numerous midseason entries – some of them likely to land on Thursdays once football is over and others scheduled for summer 2018. The list: The Four: Battle for Stardom, Gotham (for a fifth and final season), The Orville (returns Dec. 30), The Passage, Proven Innocent, So You Think You Can Dance, Beat Shazam, Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours To Hell And Back, Love Connection, Masterchef, Masterchef Junior and Showtime at the Apollo.

Also set for midseason is Cosmos: Possible Worlds, a sequel to the Cosmos mini-series from a few years ago. And Fox plans a three-hour musicial featuring Rent on January 27, wedged in between the NFL Conference Championship Games and the Super Bowl (on CBS.)

To see the 2018 fall schedule, click here.

As mentioned earlier, Fox is going heavy with drama and for the first-time in ages, there are no single-cam comedies anywhere in sight. In fact, just three live-action comedies are on the schedule, all multi-cam. Fox should decently do well on Fridays with the return of Standing, but Kids remains a question mark. A show set in a retirement home is slightly above one set in a funeral home (1990’s Good Grief with Howie Mandel, also on Fox.)

Fox’s Sunday lineup will get a boost from NFL lead-ins on weeks it has one, and congrats to Bob’s Burgers for getting the spot it rightly deserves on the schedule. But the fates of these shows will likely be determined on how the Disney (or Comcast)-Fox deal plays out and whether if it is economically feasible to continue producing the animated series with Disney (or Comcast) taking over.

And in the least surprising observation, Fox is going to have a hit with Thursday Night Football.

As for some bubble shows, Fox announced the cancellation of The X-Files Monday after co-star Gillian Anderson said she would no longer do the show – but she rightfully pointed out the show’s ratings decline on Twitter as a reason:

Fox also punted on future decision of single-cam comedies Ghosted and LA To Vegas, though they remain in contention for midseason slots.


Here are the trailers for six of the new shows on Fox next season. Enjoy!