While not as soul-shaking as the NBC midseason lineup, Fox didn't skimp on the drama when it announced its 2011 plans last month. There are some big changes in store for the network, particularly with their flagship series, American Idol. Let's do it to it.
8:00 - House
9:00 - The Chicago Code (beginning February 7)
For starters, I think it's interesting that Fox has decided not to order any more episodes of Lie to Me, which will be burned off in January so that The Chicago Code (formerly Ride-a-long) can take over. I've heard lots of positive things about The Chicago Code, though Lone Star was similarly well-received by critics at the start of the season. Regardless, Lie to Me has to be getting expensive as it continues, and it's not pulling great ratings; unfortunately, House hasn't been doing as well this season either. Mondays are looking kind of grim for Fox nowadays, with the declining ratings for House and 24's first replacement being a major bomb. But the good news for The Chicago Code is that it won't have to be a huge hit in order for Fox to consider it a success now that their expectations have been lowered.
8:00 - Glee
9:00 - Raising Hope
9:30 - Traffic Light
Glee is consistently Fox's best performer and one of the best performer's of the entire broadcast week, so it's no surprise that Fox didn't want to mess up a good thing: it was supposed to move to Wednesdays at midseason. Keeping it where it is is a smart decision, especially considering how well new sitcom Raising Hope has done with it as a lead-in. Now that Raising Hope has something of an audience and is doing steady numbers, perhaps it can be used to successfully launch Traffic Light (formerly Mixed Signals). I don't know if it'll happen, considering how poorly Running Wilde did in the same slot... and that show had a couple of recognizable and well-liked stars, which this new series does not.
8:00 - American Idol (beginning January 19)
9:00 - Human Target (until February 9)
8:00 - American Idol (beginning April 6)
9:30 - Breaking In (beginning April 6)
So here's the big switch. American Idol moves its performance show to Wednesday nights for 2 hours throughout February and March, and then cut back to 90 minutes in April. On one hand, I think this spells doom for Human Target, which has fallen this season and is getting a quick burn off in January with 2 episodes per night prior to AI's debut. But I think it's a smart move to cut back by a half hour once the contestants begin to dwindle; it'll make the performance shows move quicker, and it gives Fox the opportunity to try out a new sitcom: Breaking In (formerly Security), which got a late pickup last month after originally being passed over. It'll also be interesting to see how audiences respond to all the changes happening with the panel on AI, including two new judges.
8:00 - American Idol (beginning January 20)
9:00 - Bones
So the real winner of this entire switch up seems to be Bones. Fox usually uses the American Idol lead-out to launch a new show, like last year's smash Glee. But this year they're giving one of their old standbys and consistent performers a shot at growth. In the process, though, they seem to have given up on Fringe, which I'll talk about in a little bit. But overall, the American Idol switch up probably won't have much affect on its viewership; if anything, the effect (good or bad) will probalby come more from its changes than from its time shift.
8:00 - Kitchen Nightmares (beginning January 21)
9:00 - Fringe (beginning January 21)
Kitchen Nightmares should do fine an hour later than usual. It's a reality show, and a seasoned one at that; and if anything is going to succeed on a Friday, it'll be a seasoned reality show. It did fine at 9:00, so I don't see an issue really at 8:00... after all, it only had encores of House to build out of anyway. The real story is Fringe, which is being thrown under the bus by American Idol. Granted, Fringe has tumbled quite a bit in its third season, so it makes sense for Fox to want to try it out on Friday. If it does well there, its outlook for renewal will grow; if it continues to flounder, it will be canceled in May. Fox's president has even said that if Fringe does as well as Friday as it does on Thursday (about 1.8 A18-49) then it will be considered a success... however, since that announcement was made, it has fallen on Thursdays to a lowly 1.6, which is the same as Human Target's lows, a series sure to be canceled in light of its quick burn off. So as of now, things aren't looking to good for Fringe...
7:30 - American Dad
8:00 - The Simpsons
8:30 - Bob's Burgers
9:00 - Family Guy
9:30 - The Cleveland Show
I don't really understand why Fox is so supportive of The Cleveland Show and so dismissive of American Dad. The former has fallen considerably since its debut last year, but since Fox decided to renew it for a third season while it was only halfway through the first, I guess they need to find a way to get the most out of it. American Dad, on the other hand, has been holding steady around 2.5 for a while now, and it does well with Family Guy as a lead-in and relatively well on its own. The Cleveland Show, however, depends on Family Guy's audience tuning in early; it doesn't do nearly as well when its parent show is in repeats or preempted. And it looks like Fox is trying to replace American Dad with Bob's Burgers. I don't know how well this new animated comedy will do. Cleveland did so well because it was a spin-off. Sons of Tucson failed miserably, though that was live-action. At least Bob's Burgers fits thematically with the animated family comedy... though it doesn't look very funny. We'll see.