Fox Banks on Abrams’ FRINGE for Fall

Fox obviously thinks that Fringe is going to be the next Lost, and they may not be wrong. The sci-fi thriller from Lost creator J.J. Abrams is one of only two new shows on the network’s fall schedule–the other being a half-hour comedy tentatively titled Do Not Disturb and starring Jerry O’Connell. Yeah, I don’t really care about that one, either.

So, getting back to Fringe… Fox is so excited about this show that it’s rolling out the marketing campaign today, a tactic more commonly used for feature films than television shows. New Yorkers should keep an eye out for the Fringe street teams today, who will apparently be orchestrating stunts involving Segways and… cows? O-kay. They’ve also unveiled a series of tantalizing posters for the series, complete with Lost-esque typeface and mysterious imagery including an apple, a shadowy figure, a handprint, a leaf, and a puff of smoke in the shape of a creepy human face. Also? The show’s mystery apparently starts with an ill-fated airline flight. Hmmmm.

But as much as they want us to be excited about Fringe, the truth is that they’re holding back most of the good stuff until midseason, when 24 and American Idol return. That means we’ll have to wait until January for the highly-anticipated Joss Whedon series Dollhouse, which will serve as a lead-in on Monday nights for 24. Two new animated comedies are also being held until spring: Sit Down, Shut Up from Mitchell Hurwitz (Arrested Development) and the Family Guy spin off The Cleveland Show.

As usual, Fox is set to launch its fall season earlier than the other networks, starting with a two-hour Prison Break on Monday, Aug. 25, the two-hour premiere of Fringe on Aug. 26, and a two-hour Bones on Aug. 27. Finally, upfront week has given us something to get excited about.

Fall 2008 Schedule

MONDAY
8:00-9:00 PM TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES
9:00-10:00 PM PRISON BREAK

TUESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM HOUSE
9:00-10:00 PM FRINGE

WEDNESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM BONES
9:00-9:30 PM ‘TIL DEATH
9:30-10:00 PM DO NOT DISTURB (wt)

THURSDAY
8:00-9:00 PM THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
9:00-10:00 PM KITCHEN NIGHTMARES

FRIDAY
8:00-9:00 PM ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A 5th GRADER?
9:00-10:00 PM DON’T FORGET THE LYRICS!

SATURDAY
8:00-8:30 PM COPS
8:30-9:00 PM COPS
9:00-10:00 PM AMERICA’S MOST WANTED: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK
11:00 PM-Midnight MADtv
Midnight-12:30 AM TALKSHOW WITH SPIKE FERESTEN

SUNDAY
7:00-8:00 PM THE OT (NFL post-game)
8:00-8:30 PM THE SIMPSONS
8:30-9:00 PM KING OF THE HILL
9:00-9:30 PM FAMILY GUY
9:30-10:00 PM AMERICAN DAD

New Series for Fall 2008 or Midseason 2009

FRINGE
From J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the team behind Star Trek, Mission: Impossible III and Alias, comes a new thriller that will explore the blurring line between science fiction and reality. When an international flight lands at Boston’s Logan Airport and the passengers and crew have all died grisly deaths, FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (newcomer Anna Torv) is called in to investigate. After her partner, Special Agent John Scott (Mark Valley, Boston Legal), is nearly killed during the investigation, a desperate Olivia searches frantically for someone to help, leading her to Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble, Lord of the Rings), our generation’s Einstein. There’s only one catch: he’s been institutionalized for the last 20 years, and the only way to question him requires pulling his estranged son Peter (Joshua Jackson, Dawson’s Creek) in to help. When Olivia’s investigation leads her to manipulative corporate executive Nina Sharp (Blair Brown, Altered States), our unlikely trio along with fellow FBI Agents Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick, The Wire), Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo, Oz) and Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole, Law & Order: Criminal Intent) will discover that what happened on Flight 627 is only a small piece of a larger, more shocking truth.

DO NOT DISTURB (working title)
This workplace comedy centers around the upstairs/downstairs dynamic at a hip New York City hotel. The hotel’s top-notch reputation is due in large part to Neal (Jerry O’Connell, Crossing Jordan) the egotistical, hyper-stylish, detail-oriented general manager, although The Inn’s charismatic owner R.J. (guest star Robert Wagner) takes all the credit. Rhonda (Niecy Nash, Reno 911!) is the head of Human Resources who does her best to keep the back of the house in line and the front of the house out of trouble. At the front desk handling check-in while wearing 6-inch Manolos is aging model Nicole (Molly Stanton, Twins). Fresh from Nebraska is Jason (Brando Eaton, Zoey 101), the naive bellman who would prefer to work behind the scenes, but was hired to show off his chiseled face and perfect pecs at the front of the hotel. The downstairs staff includes Molly (Jolene Purdy, Donnie Darko), a reservations clerk who dreams of pop-singer stardom as much as she craves to be part of the action upstairs; and Larry (Jesse Tyler Ferguson, The Class), the head of housekeeping who spends more time on the phone cleaning up his messes at home than he does cleaning up after the guests upstairs.

DOLLHOUSE
Joss Whedon, creator of groundbreaking cult favorites Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, returns to television and reunites with fellow Buffy alumna Eliza Dushku for a thrilling new drama. Echo (Dushku) is an “Active,” a member of a highly illegal and underground group who have had their personalities wiped clean so they can be imprinted with any number of new personas. Confined to a secret facility known as the “Dollhouse,” Echo and the other Actives including Sierra (Dichen Lachman, Neighbours) and Victor (Enver Gjokaj, The Unit) carry out engagements assigned by Adelle (Olivia Williams, X-Men: The Last Stand, Rushmore), one of the Dollhouse leaders. The engagements cater to the wealthy, powerful and connected, and require the Actives to immerse themselves in all manner of scenarios romantic, criminal, uplifting, dangerous, comical and the occasional “pro bono” good deed. After each scenario, Echo, always under the watchful eye of her handler Boyd (Harry Lennix, Commander in Chief, 24), returns to the mysterious Dollhouse where her thoughts, feelings and experiences are erased by Topher (Fran Kranz, Welcome to the Captain), the Dollhouse’s genius programmer. Echo enters the next scenario with no memory of before. Or does she? As the series progresses, FBI Agent Paul Smith (Tahmoh Penikett, Battlestar Galactica) pieces together clues that lead him closer to the Dollhouse, while Echo stops forgetting, her memories begin to return and she slowly pieces together her mysterious past. Dollhouse revolves around Echo’s blossoming self-awareness and her desire to discover her true identity. But with each new engagement, comes a new memory and increased danger inside and outside the Dollhouse.

SECRET MILLIONAIRE
This unscripted series takes America’s wealthiest individuals away from their lavish lifestyles, sprawling mansions and private planes and places them undercover into some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in America. Shot under the guise of a documentary, the series reveals the dramatic personal return that millionaires will get when they leave their fortunes to invest in those less fortunate. Challenged with living on minimum wage, the millionaires will immerse themselves in situations beyond their comprehension. They will work side-by-side with community members and befriend those in need to decide who should ultimately receive their gifts of a lifetime. On the final day, the Secret Millionaires meet with the chosen recipients and reveal their true identity and intention: to give them at least $100,000.

THE CLEVELAND SHOW (working title)
Many years ago, Cleveland Brown (voiced by Mike Henry) was a high school student madly in love with a beautiful girl named Donna. Much to his dismay, his love went unrequited, and Donna wound up marrying another man. Cleveland once told Donna he would always love her, and if this man ever done her wrong, he’d be there when she called. Well, this man done her wrong. Donna’s husband skipped town with another woman, leaving Donna with a daughter and a baby. Now she’s come to Cleveland and offered him another chance at love. Unattached after the Loretta-Quagmire debacle and true to his word, Cleveland joyously accepts and he and Cleveland Jr. move to Stoolbend, VA, to join their new family. Once in Stoolbend, Cleveland has a few surprises in store for him, including a flirtatious new stepdaughter, a 5-year-old stepson who loves the ladies, as well as a collection of neighbors that includes a loudmouth redneck couple, a British family seemingly stuck in the Victorian era and a family of bears living at the end of the block.

SIT DOWN, SHUT UP (working title)
From Emmy Award-winning writer Mitchell Hurwitz (Arrested Development) and Eric and Kim Tannenbaum (Two and a Half Men) comes an animated comedy that focuses on the lives of eight staff members at a high school in a small northeastern fishing town (Go Baiters!) who never lose sight of the fact that the children must ALWAYS come second. We watch them grapple with their own egos, needs and personal agendas, their petty insecurities and prejudices, unrequited loves, and ruthless battles for power and that’s just at the staff meeting. Sue Sezno (Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live), a woman who frequently says “no,” is the acting principal of the school (the actual principal is recovering from a series of unfortunate accidents that might be seen as escape attempts). Then there’s Vice Principal Stuart Prozackian (Will Forte, Saturday Night Live) who has a terrifically positive and upbeat attitude… possibly from the performance-enhancing medication he’s been secretly put on by the other teachers. There is one educator who feels the focus should be on academics, but despite the old adage, at this school, those who can teach, teach gym and that’s where Larry Slimp (Jason Bateman, Juno, Arrested Development) has been exiled to. Immensely frustrated, Larry nurses a crush on science teacher Miracle GroheI (Maria Bamford, Stuart Little 2), a woman whose superficial grasp on science is balanced by her superficial grasp on spirituality. Rounding out the staff is the aging German teacher Willard Deutschebog (Henry Winkler, Arrested Development, Happy Days), a deeply defeated man whose yearbook quotation reads “If I believed in reincarnation, I’d kill myself tonight.” Uptight Helen Klench (Cheri Oteri, Saturday Night Live) is a librarian whose life’s work in research and archiving can now be surpassed by the average Google search from the average cell phone. Proud Andrew Sapien (Nick Kroll, Best Week Ever, Cavemen) is the flamboyant drama teacher. Ennis Hofftard (Will Arnett, Arrested Development) is a fellow teacher and a self-obsessed body builder who yearns to be thought of as a “cool dude” by his students. And finally there’s Happly (Tom Kenny, SpongeBob SquarePants), the plotting secretive custodian who’s assumed to be Hispanic despite the fact that his real name is Muhannad Sabeeh Fa’ach Nuaba. With a distinctive new look a combination of animation against a live-action backdrop Sit Down, Shut Up lampoons modern society while exposing the dreams, flaws and struggling humanity of our first and most formative authority figures: teachers.

Returning Fall 2008 or Midseason 2009

· 24
· AMERICAN DAD
· AMERICAN IDOL
· AMERICA’S MOST WANTED: AMERICA STRIKES BACK
· ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A FIFTH GRADER?
· BONES
· COPS
· DON’T FORGET THE LYRICS!
· FAMILY GUY
· HELL’S KITCHEN
· HOUSE
· KING OF THE HILL
· KITCHEN NIGHTMARES
· THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
· PRISON BREAK
· THE SIMPSONS
· TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES
· ‘TIL DEATH

Canceled Series

· BACK TO YOU
· CANTERBURY’S LAW
· K-VILLE
· NASHVILLE
· NEW AMSTERDAM
· THE NEXT GREAT AMERICAN BAND
· THE RETURN OF JEZEBEL JAMES
· UNHITCHED

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One thought on “Fox Banks on Abrams’ FRINGE for Fall

  1. Heaven knows I don’t trust Abrams to follow through on cool initial ideas, but John Noble *and* Lance Reddick (he’s been the creepy Abbadon guy on Lost lately)? I’ll watch that, at least for a while.

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