If you’ve been following the litany of cancellations and early renewals that have been announced ahead of next week’s network upfronts – the presentation at which the networks officially unveil their fall lineup – you may have noticed that Fox has been especially merciless. I know, dear reader, you’re shocked. The Fox Network is cancelling a lot of shows? Perish the thought!
But even for Fox this has been a bloody week, with ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’, ‘Last Man on Earth’, ‘The Mick’, ‘Lucifer’, and ‘The Exorcist’. All this while ‘Lethal Weapon’, ‘Gotham’, ‘L.A. to Vegas’, and ‘Ghosted’ are still on the bubble. That translates to a full half of the network’s scripted lineup that already has been or soon might be cancelled. So while Fox has a well-earned reputation for being a bit too liberal with the cancellation button, it’s clear that there’s more going on here than just business as usual.
So what explains this bloodbath? Well, according to the Hollywood Reporter, at least some of the blame rests with the NFL, with whom the network has struck a multi-year deal for ‘Thursday Night Football’. This effectively creates a dead zone for scripted programming on – you guessed it – Thursday nights. So for all intents and purposes, the network is losing a night of scheduling space on top of their already truncated schedule. (Unlike the big three networks, Fox’s primetime programming block does not include the ten o’clock hour).
Additionally, there is an apparent shift in favor of programming that 20th Century Fox (the network’s corporate sibling) owns lock, stock, and barrel. While many of the cancelled shows don’t fall under the Fox umbrella (‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’, for example, is owned by Universal Television), the shows we know will be coming back all do. In point of fact, the only off-network shows that still have a shot at returning next season are ‘Gotham’ and ‘Lethal Weapon’ – both of which come courtesy of Warner Bros. Television – and the odds are that at least one of them will get the axe.
Of course, if the pending deal with Disney goes through, virtually every show on the lineup would become an off-network show.
Fox has already confirmed renewals for ‘The Simpsons’, ‘Bob’s Burgers’, ‘Family Guy’, ‘Empire’, ‘Star’, ‘911’, ‘The Orville’, ‘The Resident’, and ‘The Gifted’.
For more renewals and cancellations for the 2018-2019 television season, be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com in the coming days.