UPDATE: FOX has clarified that Scream Queens actually concludes its first season on December 8th, which is why it’s absent from the midseason schedule. Its dire ratings turnout is unchanged however, and given FOX’s crowded slate of shows, it’s still likely to get the axe after Season One, barring a surprise renewal to keep the teen-heavy audience.
FOX has decided its Winter premiere schedule for the start of 2016, and it comes with quite a few shocking shake-ups! Given the presence of a limited-run event series in The X-Files, the Fall hiatus of New Girl ending, and the network’s slate of programming starting to become pretty crowded, due to all of the new pitches that they took this season, your favourite shows might be returning at drastically different times than they’re currently airing. This is of course on top of accommodating all-new shows coming to FOX at the start of next year, including Lucifer, Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life and Bordertown.
First and foremost, FOX is shaking up their Sunday night comedy bloc quite noticeably, which returns on Sunday, January 3rd for the most part. The Simpsons and Family Guy are staying put for their Winter premieres that day, at 8:00-8:30 and 9:00-9:30, respectively, and Bob’s Burgers will remain in its 7:30-8:00 timeslot for its own Winter premiere on January 10th, though Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Last Man on Earth have both been removed from Sundays.
Taking Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s place in the 8:30-9:00 Sunday timeslot will be Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life, formerly announced as The Guide to Surviving Life, an all-new comedy series, and the lone live-action offering on Sunday Funday at that point. Subbing in for The Last Man on Earth in the 9:30-10:00 timeslot, will be Seth MacFarlane’s newest animated sitcom, Bordertown, relying on MacFarlane’s breakout series, Family Guy as a lead-in. Both of these new shows will premiere on January 3rd. FOX has also reserved Sunday, January 31st for its three-hour live production of Grease: Live, which will unfold between 7:00-10:00.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine will now air in an entirely new timeslot, on Tuesday nights, at 9:00-9:30. Its re-positioning comes as part of a second comedy bloc that FOX is now grooming as a light-hearted alternative to the genre and drama-heavy offerings of Tuesdays’ primetime slots on most other networks. Brooklyn Nine-Nine will now follow the belated fifth season of New Girl, set for 8:00-8:30, with new comedies, The Grinder and Grandfathered seeing a shuffle. Grandfathered will now air from 8:30-9:00 starting next year, with The Grinder now placed at 9:30-10:00. This new comedy bloc will premiere on January 5th, in its entirety.
Currently, FOX has The Last Man on Earth floating in limbo for next year, with no return date currently announced. Despite continued positive reception from many viewers and critics, The Last Man on Earth has suffered in the ratings in its current second season. It’s likely that FOX hasn’t yet determined where best to place it, so they may be gauging buzz on new comedy shows like Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life and Bordertown, while seeing how the ratings for shows like The Grinder and Grandfathered stack up for the rest of the year, before they commit to a new timeslot for Will Forte’s post-apocalyptic sitcom.
Beforehand, on Monday nights, FOX is coming out strong with their six-episode miniseries revival event for The X-Files, which will occupy the 8:00-9:00 timeslot for most of its run, though will see an early premiere on the previous Sunday, January 24th, with its second episode then airing as the second half of a two-night premiere event, on January 25th. Beforehand, the Kal Penn-hosted two-hour special, Superhuman will take the timeslot, and the next hour, for January 4th, stretching from 8:00-10:00.
The presence of The X-Files will temporarily bench DC Comics drama, Gotham, which will return late on February 29th, after the X-Files revival concludes its run. The all-new drama inspired by DC’s Vertigo graphic novel, Lucifer will make its debut a bit earlier however, following The X-Files on January 25th, and replacing Minority Report in the 9:00-10:00 timeslot, being positioned as the second half of a comic book drama bloc for Mondays, when Gotham returns to its regular timeslot. As for Minority Report, with the order reduced, ratings still low, and reviews still apathetic, FOX has naturally not set a return date for the ill-fated sci-fi drama, and this would seem to confirm that the network is axing it after its 2015 run of episodes wraps.
The centerpiece on Wednesday nights for midseason is the fifteenth and final season for American Idol, which will begin on January 6th, with a special two-night, four-hour event between January 6th and January 7th, both occupying the 8:00-10:00 timeslots on those days. On the following Wednesday, January 13th, American Idol will then sit in the 8:00-9:00 timeslot from then on, followed by the premiere of new sci-fi drama series, Second Chance, which was alternatively known as The Frankenstein Code and Lookinglass during production, in the 9:00-10:00 timeslot. The presence of these shows has led to very late returns for both new series, Rosewood, and veteran series, Empire, despite Rosewood recently getting a full season pickup, and Empire being a critical and ratings powerhouse. Rosewood will return on March 2nd, while Empire returns quite tardy on March 30th. This will theoretically allow American Idol to finish its final run without interruption, while giving the network a safe opportunity to yank the high-concept Second Chance if it flops.
Interestingly, FOX’s Thursday night timeslots for 2016 are completely empty for now, with the network not setting a return date for Bones, despite its satisfactory ratings continuing to be upheld. The show could be hitting snags in production once again, and given that its renewal for the current Season Eleven already came down to the wire, it’s likely that FOX is strongly considering ending Bones after this season, and could be benching it so that they can tool a proper finale to the best of their ability.
Likewise, Sleepy Hollow has been moved to Friday nights for next year, where it will occupy the 8:00-9:00 timeslot, starting on February 5th. This likely indicates that FOX wants to test the fanbase’s loyalty with a riskier timeslot, so that they can better decide whether the show should be renewed or cancelled after this season. It’s also being positioned as a rather odd lead-in to Hell’s Kitchen, which returns on January 15th, in the 9:00-10:00 timeslot. MasterChef Junior will precede Sleepy Hollow’s midseason return, with a two-hour premiere episode on January 8th, between 8:00-10:00, before occupying the 8:00-9:00 timeslot before Hell’s Kitchen, until Sleepy Hollow takes its place.
At a glance then, FOX’s Winter 2016 premiere schedule looks like this:
– The X-Files [Special Event Miniseries]/Gotham (8:00-9:00)
– Lucifer [New Series] (9:00-10:00)
– New Girl (8:00-8:30)
– Grandfathered (8:30-9:00)
– Brooklyn Nine-Nine (9:00-9:30)
– The Grinder (9:30-10:00)
– American Idol/Rosewood (8:00-9:00)
– Second Chance/Empire (9:00-10:00)
– MasterChef Junior/Sleepy Hollow (8:00-9:00)
– Hell’s Kitchen (9:00-10:00)
– Bob’s Burgers (7:30-8:00)
– The Simpsons (8:00-8:30)
– Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life [New Series] (8:30-9:00)
– Family Guy (9:00-9:30)
– Bordertown [New Series] (9:30-10:00)
– The Last Man on Earth
– Minority Report
– Scream Queens
FOX certainly seems to be entering 2016 very strong, seemingly unbothered by the flopping of ambitious failures like Minority Report and Scream Queens this year. The network has a very clear, organized and exciting slate of programming going in to the new year, with their genre shows comfortably placed on Monday, augmenting the belated return of Gotham with promising and buzzed about new comic book drama, Lucifer, two separate and equally promising comedy blocs set for Sunday and Tuesday, and everything falling into place for the final season of American Idol on Wednesday, even if it came at the cost of keeping Rosewood and Empire on hiatus for a long while, and seeming to undermine new series, Second Chance from the get-go.
It seems strange that FOX would simply keep Bones and The Last Man on Earth on the bench for now, despite having no primetime plans for Thursday nights in place at this point, though it’s likely that FOX simply wants to leave some room in case they have to do some midseason shuffling, if any of their bold timeslot changes, or new shows, end up being bad ideas. They’re thinking ahead at least, and that’s not a bad thing.
Keep tuning in to Eggplante for news and updates on FOX’s programming slate.