Tomorrow is the series premiere of the new FOX drama Alcatraz. FOX is once again going with an Abrams project seemingly hoping to start up a new hit series that it can rely on, ever since Fringe was a ratings failure, Terra Nova never took off, and their veteran dramas are waning in the ratings. Even Glee is looking dimmer since the uneven second season -- at least from what I've been told by avid fans of the musical comedy series. The bright light of the Fall season was the new hit comedy New Girl, which has built upon Glee's middling ratings and almost makes up for Raising Hope's ratings woes as well. Still, outside of American Idol's dominating Wednesdays and Thursdays, FOX is in a predicament. It's no secret that shows lately have been failing to catch traction with an audience on FOX, much less 3 of the 4 network channels. The only one that seems to be holding itself out of the new show ratings dilemma is CBS, which has debuted several new shows that have done very well. They cut How to Be a Gentleman out at the first sign of weakness, but left Person of Interest, the other Abrams project of the 2011-2012 season in its slot to give it time to meld into the slot and its ratings have been consistent if not exemplary. (It hit a low at 2.7, in December, but is safely back as of last Thursday at a 3.2 in the 18-49s)
Posted by Wilson Crawford at Sunday, January 15, 2012 42 Comments
So, what exactly am I getting at here you might ask? After LOST, JJ Abrams (as well as the writers and producers associated with him) became the go-to guy for intriguing, well-crafted dramas, and immediately FOX wanted his next project: FRINGE. It was just procedural enough for people to be entertained weekly, and smart enough to warrant a LOST fan overlap, with a cast that could hit it out of the park. FOX gave the drama the royal treatment, and even developed a new sort of television that was a hybrid of network and cable television ideology: it allowed the show to have roughly 10-15 minutes more time per episode, and it cut down on advertisements pretty drastically. This was all obviously supposed to be a setup for the show to be a big hit. Like the biggest drama on television. They wanted ratings, and were willing to cut out ad time and take a hit like that just so that they could get the next big hit on tv. However as you all know it didn't work out that way. I would recap the entire story for this, but it's too depressing as a fan, myself, so onto the next big thing!
After Fringe came Glee. A new type of dramatic comedy that would also be a musical. It was completely different from anything ever seen on tv before (which is to say that it was really different from anything in the last 20 years because that is how far back our attention spans let us remember! I don't actually know if there was anything like this on tv before!) and it immediately found an audience. The first season of Glee was a huge bright spot on the FOX schedule, and it put them on par with CBS dramas and comedies. In season 2, they pulled it from behind American Idol (like with the previous show, Fringe) and yet it grew in the ratings, and it made Tuesdays for FOX. Then, apparently halfway through the season, the fans either got tired of what was going on, or just lost interest, and ever since the show has gone down in the ratings pretty steadily. It's even gone below a 3.0 and there doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel since at the end of this season, the show will likely lose most of its leads. (graduation KILLS all High school shows!) So, that's an issue. It's looking like this is the next Heroes of tv: 4 and done, due to a drop in the quality of story/or interest in the subject matter.
Their next big leap of faith was the staggeringly expensive Terra Nova, which had problems from the beginning, and ended up being too tame for the thrill-seekers that were expecting lots of danger. It was prepped to be pseudo-replacement for Fringe, but while it had decent family drama, it was pretty much useless and not very entertaining to the sci-fi fans that it was pitched to. The first season's ratings were even worse than the first two seasons of Fringe, which spells doom for the family drama and means that once again FOX has not yet obtained its new big hit. NEXT!
Now, that's a hell of a lot of doom and gloom, folks! But I am not quite done just yet... I have my doubts about Alcatraz being a big hit, since its premise just doesn't excite me nearly in the way that the idea for Fringe did. It feels like a show with a timer on it, like Prison Break, or a mini-series of some sort. I can't see FOX having this show go on for more than 3-5 years, but in this current state of unbelievably fierce timeslot competition with waning results and ratings all around, I'm certainly hoping against hope that this show succeeds. I hope at the very least it premieres tomorrow with a good 4.0**, and can stay in that area. If this show crashes then it's another nail in the "JJ Abrams isn't worth the attention" coffin, and while I'd say he's definitely spread thin and not all shows can be winners (ugh...Undercovers...) I have to believe that a show with a decent enough premise, a good cast, the producers of LOST, and the co-creator of LOST, Fringe, Felicity, and Person of Interest behind it, there will be a chance that we can get another good quality show out there to the viewers that won't go belly up immediately, while shows like Rob or 2 Broke Girls are doing so damned well. If Alcatraz fails, I don't know what FOX will do, and I don't know how I could bear to see such a low blow happen again. Network television is just not what it used to be. It's so strange to see how persnickety people can be even with a quality product. I hope this works out so that they don't have to expand American Idol to Mondays-Thursdays... I just don't think I can take that as a fan of scripted television.
So, what say you, SpoilerTV readers? Are you going to check out the premiere tomorrow? I'm hesitant but very excited. I think we may be in for another treat. I just hope that if it ends up being a great show, it gets the due it deserves, unlike other failed shows recently (like Lonestar, Fringe, etc.)
Also, speaking to Abrams fans directly: Will you check this show out? How do you think it will fare when compared to the now legendary LOST pilot, or the mind-bending FRINGE pilot?
**This number doesn't reflect my actual expected rating. Not at all. I chose 4.0 because they aren't really that difficult to achieve in certain timeslots/certain shows: on CBS scripted shows (NCIS) and FOX shows like X-Factor and American Idol. Every once in a while a show gets lucky and starts with the right amount of buzz, which FOX has been building for a while now.
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