The Fox network’s scripted shows are in a state of transformation. Or, maybe, turbulence. Consider:
— “Monarch,” Fox’s big plunge for this fall, has been canceled.
— “The Resident” (shown here), a consistently well-made show, has been trimmed. Last season, it had 23 new episodes; this season, it has 13, with the final new ones on Jan, 3, 10 and 17.
— The best launching pad for a new drama – after the Super Bowl – won’t go to a scripted show … or to any new show. Instead, it will start the second season of Gordon Ramsay’s “Next Level Chef.”
Alongside those dark signs, however, there’s the encouraging arrival of two new dramas that offer brisk intensity. “Alert” debuts Jan. 8 (after football), then moves to Mondays the next night; “Accused” debuts two weeks later (Jan. 22), then moves to Tuesdays.
“There’s no fat on the bones of these stories,” Howard Gordon, the “Accused” producer, said in a Television Critics Association press conference. “It is really lean.”
These two shows, however, have opposite answers to a key question: Should dramas be serialized (in the ABC style of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Alaska Daily,” etc.) or should they wrap up a story each week, the way CBS does with its “NCIS” and “FBI” shows?
Gordon has concocted an anti-serial story. Each week, “Accused” has a completely new story, with a court case and flashbacks to the events. The directors, style and stars change from week to week. He calls it “compelling storytelling that you watch in any order.”
But “Alert” takes the opposite approach. It does solve a missing-person case every week, but it also spends much of its time on the missing-son story of the two main characters. There’s “a real serialized piece of the show,” said star Scott Caan. “It’s not just a procedural.”
At times, Fox has scored with a comedy (“Married With Children”) and dramas (“Empire” and Gordon’s “24”). But most of its success has come from sports, cartoons (led by “The Simpsons”) and lots of reality shows — from “American Idol” (now on ABC) to “The Masked Singer” and Ramsay’s kitchen competitions.
In October, Fox went a step further, putting reality chief Rob Wade in charge of the network.
When it comes to scripted shows, a 2019 deal put Fox at a disadvantage: Disney bought the movie studio, but not the network. That left Fox as the only major network without a production studio sending it a steady flow of choices.
In the interim, Fox has done best with its previous deals for the two “9-1-1” shows, while trying to land more. “Recently, we’ve welcomed some of the industry’s great storytellers,” said Jean Guerin, a network spokewoman. She cited deals with Marc Cherry (“Desperate Housewives”), Carol Mendelsohn (the “CSI” shows), McG (“Supernatural,” “Chuck,” “The O.C.”) and now “Rodney Rothman, whose film, ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,’ won the Oscar for best animated feature.”
There’s one other disadvantage – or advantage – here: Unlike the others, Fox doesn’t have shows at 10 p.m., a prime spot for dramas. With its sports/reality/cartoon overload, it can get by with two dramas on Mondays, two more on Tuesdays and a pair of comedies at 9 p.m. Thursdays.
This fall, Mondays had the first half of the “9-1-1” season, plus “The Cleaning Lady,” with its brisk (and highly serialized) 12-episode season. Tuesdays had “Resident” and “Monarch,” a country-music show with wildly serialized stories that never caught on. Thursdays had “Welcome to Flatch” and the consistently amiable “Call Me Kat.”
Now the changes are coming:
— “Fantasy Island,” a reboot that started as a summer show, moves to 8 p.m. Mondays on Jan. 2.
— “The Resident” returns for the season’s final three episodes, starting 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3.
— “Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test” borrows the reality-night spot on Wednesdays. It has a two-hour opener Jan. 4, then shares the night with “Celebrity Name That Tune.”
— “Alert” debuts after football, at 8 p.m. ET on Jan. 8, then moves to Mondays at 9.
— “9-1-1: Lone Star” starts its season at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, alongside the “Resident” season-finale. The “9-1-1” show return in the spring, as does “Masked Singer.”
— “Accused” debuts at 9 p.m. Jan. 22, then takes the 9 p.m. Tuesday slot.
— “Next Level Chef” starts its season after the Super Bowl on Feb.12. It then moves to 8 p.m. Thursdays, leading into a new comedy (Joel McHale’s “Animal Control”) and “Call Me Kat.”