As a strike-impacted fall season launches later this month, Fox boasts one of the only full nights of scripted programming in primetime — thanks to its Sunday night “Animation Domination” lineup.
Besides the returns of “The Simpsons,” “Bob’s Burgers” and “Family Guy,” that sked includes the long-awaited debut of Dan Harmon’s new entry “Krapopolis.” The animated series, set in ancient Greece, was first commissioned at Fox way back in June 2020, when Harmon signed a broadcast network-only exclusive direct animation deal. It was formally ordered to series in February 2021, and was originally intended to debut in 2022 — before being pushed to May 2023, and now, September 24. It was renewed for a second season in October 2022 and for a third season in March 2023.
After that lengthy runway, Fox Entertainment scripted programming president Michael Thorn told Variety that the network has its fingers crossed.
“The thing that we’re really mindful of for all of our series is that the world has completely changed,” Thorn said. “The overnight success, it just it just doesn’t happen anymore. It’s a game of patience. And what we really want to see is the audience react positively to this show. We want to see momentum around the linear and the delayed viewing and have word of mouth spread. Animation has never been a genre that opens big.
“I’d be lying if I said we didn’t hope for a remarkable opening, but at the same time we’re realists, and we believe in the show and we believe in the long game which is why we have already ordered the third cycle,” he added.
Elsewhere on Fox’s fall schedule, unscripted programming is everywhere, just like it is on almost every network this fall, given the lack of scripted production. Allison Wallach, Fox Entertainment’s president of unscripted, compares this lean launch to Fox’s efforts during the early months of the COVID-19 shutdowns in 2020.
“I started a month before the pandemic over at [Fox Alternative Entertainment],” she said. “So I feel as though we have been in this mode of you’ve got to get scrappy, keep your head down, and find any possible way to stay in production since then.”
Despite unscripted being so essential to the network’s fall lineup, Wallach said she and her team did not feel any added pressure. Fox’s fall reality fare includes two series from Gordon Ramsay: “Hell’s Kitchen” and the return of “Kitchen Nightmares,” which has been off the air since 2014.
Fox is also bullish on the second season of “Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test,” this time featuring contestants including Dez Bryant, Tyler Cameron, Savannah Chrisley, Blac Chyna, Brian Austin Green, Robert Horry, Bode Miller, Jack Osbourne, Tara Reid, Kelly Rizzo, Tom Sandoval and JoJo Siwa. The network also has the new David Spade-fronted “Snake Oil” and the return of “The Masked Singer,” “Lego Masters” and “Name That Tune.”
“The shows that are coming up in the fall, they were shows that were either in production, getting picked up, and that we were enthusiastic about anyway,” she said. “So it didn’t really change the course of how we were making decisions, or I don’t think anyone really felt this pressure that all of a sudden we have to have all these shows on the air because we were going to have most of them ready anyway. We probably would have had more time to market them but thankfully there was really only two new shows coming. The rest is the returning stuff.”
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