You’ve undoubtedly heard a lot about how the writers’ strike will impact television, but until now it’s been mostly rumors about possible schedule changes, Well, they’re rumors no more, as FOX has announced a completely new schedule for its spring TV season, and the new lineup looks like they put all their shows into a food processor and flicked the switch.
The biggest news is that Day 7 of 24 is no longer on the schedule. Originally slated to have a three-hour, two-night premiere on January 13 and 14, the writers’ strike has left FOX in a bind: air the first eight hours, then pause until the strike ends, or postpone the season so fans can get one continuous 24-hour adventure. FOX blinked, and now fans will have to wait even longer to see Jack Bauer take on Tony Almeida and the FBI.
But that’s just the beginning. When FOX starts its new season in January, we’ll be getting plenty of reality and plenty of repeats (or “encores,” as the network attempts to name them). First, American Idol fans need not worry. The writers’ strike hasn’t affected the ratings super-hit, and it will begin with a two-night, four-hour event on Tuesday, January 15 and Wednesday, January 16. That’s right, four hours of auditions.
On the plus side, the premiere of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, will not be affected. In fact, it will move up, and now it debuts at 8pm on Sunday, January 13, then settles in to its new home on Mondays at 9pm the next day. Meanwhile, those Prison Break fans worried about a break from December until April can settle down, as it will come back to its Monday at 8pm time slot on January 14.
However, Prison Break fans do have something to be upset about. There were supposed to be three more episodes before it takes its hiatus, but in order to ensure original episodes in January, next week will actually be Prison Break‘s fall finale, leaving viewers waiting two months to get the rest of the episodes.
Bones and House, the networks two solid procedurals, will be filling in plenty of gaps with more “encore” episodes throughout the weeks. House returns Tuesday, January 22 at 9pm following American Idol, with encores Fridays at 9pm until February 22. Then the encores go to Mondays at 9pm starting March 10. Meanwhile, Bones gets buried on Fridays at 8pm starting January 4. FOX says the episodes will all be a mix of originals and encores, so it all depends on how many scripts were finished before the strike began.
The much-hyped post-Super Bowl episode of House is not in trouble. Fans will still get to see guest star Mira Sorvino (really, that’s the best they could do?) in that prime spot.
Elsewhere, a quartet of new shows will be put out to die as FOX burns off its original mid-season programs on Fridays and Sundays. Starting Friday, February 22, New Amsterdam, about an immortal New York City cop, premieres at 9pm. On April 11, it’s replaced by another new series, Canterbury’s Law, a courtroom drama starring ER‘s Julianna Margulies.
On Friday, March 7, Bones gets bounced from the 8pm slot to make room for encores of Til Death at 8pm and the premiere of The Return of Jezebel James at 8:30pm. The new sister sitcom stars Parker Posey and Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under), and was created by Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. The other new FOX comedy, Unhitched, takes a six-week run on Sundays at 9:30pm starting on March 2. The single-camera comedy stars The Office‘s Rashida Jones and was created by the Farrelly Brothers (There’s Something About Mary).
If you’re still not totally confused by the maddeningly complex new schedule, there’s more: reality TV! On Monday, March 3 at 8pm is the premiere of When Women Rule the World, in which a group of women are given dominion over their own remote location. On Tuesday, April 1 at 9pm, Gordon Ramsay shows up to terrorize another batch of potential chefs in the fourth season of Hell’s Kitchen. On Wednesday, January 23 at 9pm (following new episodes of American Idol), is the game show The Moment of Truth, in which contestants are hooked up to a lie detector and asked increasingly personal questions. Then on March 12 it flips to 8pm, before the half-hour American Idol results show (which itself will be followed by “encores” of Back to You). And of course, Thursday nights are safe with new episodes of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? and Don’t Forget the Lyrics.
If this is any indication, other networks will soon be announcing their own redesigned schedules. However, the writers’ strike’s impact is quite obvious by a quick glance. We’ll be getting plenty of repeats, plenty of limited-run mid-season shows, and a whole lot of reality.
-John Kubicek, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image courtesy of FOX)