Fox and NBC, just to make things tough on those of us covering these things, decided to hold their upfront presentations on the same day, so we've got the report on Fox as well. They're not premiering as many shows as NBC is (they don't have as many holes, and The X Factor occupies a lot of real estate), but they've got four new comedies and three new dramas.
The New Girl
The New Girl stars Zooey Deschanel, who was eye-poppingly cute in 500 Days Of Summer, as Jess, a girl who can't find her own boyfriends (?), so after her boyfriend dumps her, she moves in with three male friends who basically coach her in the art of how to live. The male TV critics in my life went bazoo over the cuteness of Zoey Deschanel, but it looks a little pedestrian to me and the guys all blend together a little in the trailer. When the deliver the final pilot, I'm hoping it's less reliant on Zooey lying around feeling sorry for herself and that she has a little more gumption.
I Hate My Teenage Daughter
The very energetic Jaime Pressly (who won an Emmy playing Joy on My Name Is Earl) returns with Kate Finneran (late of Wonderfalls) in a comedy about two divorced moms who have inadvertently raised horrible teenagers. The title, in other words, is pretty straightforward.
Jonah Hill stars in (and created) this animated comedy about "a pretentious seven-year-old" who's been homeschooled but is now headed off to school with other kids.
This one won't debut until midseason, but it's the latest spooky story from J.J. Abrams (of Fringe and Lost). The premise is that there's a commonly accepted story that a large number of inmates escaped from Alcatraz, but in fact, they simply vanished. And, because that's how you make a TV show, it's now time for them to magically reappear in our lives, at which point they'll have to be tracked by, among others, Jorge Garcia. Of all the drama plots Fox had, this one looks best, although Abrams has had mixed results with these offbeat dramas, given that Fringe, while it remains on the air, has been a perpetual bubble show.
Terra Nova was on Fox's schedule last year, and it feels like it's been kicking around since the dinosaurs, which is a coincidence, since it's about dinosaurs. Specifically, it's yet another version of our dystopian future in which our strategy to save ourselves is to travel back to prehistoric Earth. Where — as you know — there are dinosaurs. The big name attached to this one is Steven Spielberg, who's one of the executive producers.
If you watch Bones, you already know about this one, which was kicked off as a variation on the "back-door pilot" (that's what they call it when they use an episode of an existing series as a launching pad for a new series) in which Booth and Brennan visited a guy with a weird ability to ... well, find things. (Again, a title that is not trying to trick you.) It stars Geoff Stults, whom I last saw in ABC's crashed and burned spooky small-town mystery show, Happy Town. You've probably forgotten it.
The Other Thing
The X Factor
In reality, what Fox seems most excited about this fall is The X Factor, its new singing competition show that will occupy the American Idol timeslot in the fall. Fox has been disciplined, really, in never succumbing to the temptation to run Idol in both the fall and the spring, and this finally gives them an opportunity to fill that spot in the fall with something that — given that it will feature former Idol judges Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul together again — will give the Idol fans a way to keep their habit alive all year. It will have the same Wednesday-Thursday schedule that Idol now has. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.