For the Fox network, this is a tricky question:
What happens when the sports surge ends? What will it be like without the OK ratings from the World Series and the huge numbers from Thursday-night and Sunday-afternoon football?
Now there are answers, adding one old show (Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing,” shown here) and several new ones, In particular, Fox will use football as a launching pad; for instance:
— On Dec. 29, there’s an NFL doubleheader. Afterward – at 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT – is the debut of “Flirty Dancing”; hosted by dancer/actress Jenna Dewan, it starts with strangers learning a dance routine together. Afterward, that takes the 8 p.m.Wednesday spot, starting New Year’s Day.
— On Jan. 19, Fox has the NFC championship game. Afterward – about 10 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. PT – it debuts “9-1-1: Lone Star,” which has Rob Lowe as a former New Yorker, leading first-responder work in Texas.The next night, that takes the “9-1-1” spot at 8 p.m. Mondays, keeping the hour rerun-free,
— And this year, Fox has the Super Bowl. That’s Feb. 2, followed by the start of a new edition of “Masked Singer.” Then “Masked Singer” reclaims its Wednesday slot (temporarily filled by “Flirty Dancing”); another reality competition — “Lego Masters” — follows.
Other shows, with no football boost, may have a tougher time.
Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing” has thrived on Fridays, sometimes without comedy competition. But that night went to wrestling, leaving the show homeless. Starting Jan. 2, it will be at 8 p.m. Thursdays.
That puts it eye-to-eye with two other comedies, “Young Sheldon” and “Superstore.” Allen’s advantage is that he’ll sometimes have new episodes going against reruns. “Last Man Standing” will have two episodes on three Thursdays, before giving the 8:30 spot on Jan. 23 to “Outmatched,” with Jason Biggs and Maggie Lawson raising four kids, three of them geniuses.
Also on Thursdays, starting at 9 p.m. Jan. 2, is “Deputy.” Stephen Dorff plays an old-style lawman in the modern Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office. Other shifts are:
— Gordon Ramsay’s “24 Hours to Hell and Back” starts its season at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7, after “The Resident.”
— “Duncanville,” a cartoon series from Amy Poehler and two of the “Simpsons” producers, debuts at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb.16.
— Not yet scheduled are the final “Empire” episodes and two new dramas. “Filthy Rich” has in-fighting in a family that runs a mega-church; “nExt” is a sci-fi tale, with rogue androids constantly improving themselves.