Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fox: What to watch while you're waiting for American Idol and 24 to come back

It's no secret to anyone by now that the Fox Network basically marks time in the fall. While the other webs are scrambling for viewers, Fox just hangs out, waiting until the January advent of its tentpole series, American Idol and 24.

But, since you've gotta do something with your chilly autumn evenings, Fox has announced a fall schedule that returns several favorites — the cranky medical drama House, the SoCal soap opera The O.C., CSI wannabe Bones, and the inexplicable Prison Break — alongside a sprinkling of new offerings that won't exactly help you forget Kiefer Sutherland and Ryan Seacrest.

Here's what's coming in off the Fox bench this season:
  • Vanished. Holding down 24's Monday night timeslot is another convoluted action drama, this one about a Senator's wife who mysteriously disappears, and the conspiracies and scandals turned up by the investigation that follows. This looks like another Prison Break in the making: What do they do with the show after the missing woman is found? Assuming it survives that long, that is.

  • Standoff. A drama about two FBI hostage negotiators who are also lovers. Standing Agency policy would prohibit them from working together, if it weren't for the fact that they're a perfectly matched and highly successful team. Fox describes this show as a cross between Moonlighting and 24. Sounds to me like the fast track to the scrap heap.

  • Justice. The latest product of the Jerry Bruckheimer hitmaking machine that brought you Without a Trace and the various iterations of CSI, this one's about a quartet of high-powered attorneys. Justice stars a couple of terrific actors, Victor Garber and Eamonn Walker, so it may have a shot. I'd just like to note for the record that TV dramas with "Justice" in the title — and there've been a veritable plethora of them, including Sweet Justice, Dark Justice, Sword of Justice, Equal Justice, Swift Justice, Blind Justice, Street Justice, and the recently canceled In Justice — have rarely enjoyed much success. Perhaps dispensing with the adjective will do the trick.

  • 'Til Death. Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher star as a bickering married couple whose new neighbors are starry-eyed young newlyweds. Garrett strikes me as the kind of comic actor who makes a more effective supporting player than headliner, and the constantly arguing couple angle has been done to death since The Honeymooners. Pass.

  • Happy Hour. Yet another derivative sitcom, this one's about a small-town guy who moves to the big city (Chicago, in this case, though the show will probably be filmed in Los Angeles like everything else). His new roommate is a slick womanizer who thinks he's the second coming of Dean Martin. Yeah, I want to watch that. Sure... and monkeys will fly out of my butt.

  • Duets. From the mind of American Idol's Simon Cowell comes this competitive reality show that sounds like an uneasy marriage of Idol and Dancing with the Stars. Amateur vocalists get paired up with established singing stars (we'll see what kind of "stars" want to subject themselves to this humiliation) to vie for the title of best duet. People eat this sort of thing up, so I'd guess this one has ratings potential.
Anything here strike your fancy? No? Well, take heart, bunkie — 24 and Idol resurface after New Year's for whole new seasons.


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