Fox’s upfront this afternoon focused on social media, “engagement,” and tried-and-true methods — unlike previous years, where the focus was Idol, Idol, Idol. There are new comedies, there are new dramas, there’s even a science miniseries. Here’s what we learned:
1. We’re apparently ready for a nineties-set sitcom. Or so Fox hopes. Chris Meloni will test the waters in Surviving Jack, a comedy a gruff guy attempting to connect with his teenage kids. Featured nostalgia “Good Vibrations,” slightly bigger hair and, uh, no Internet.
2. Fox is realllllly into “[something] for a new generation.” Kevin Reilly invoked that construct several times throughout the presentation. Cosmos will be (old) Cosmos “for a new generation.” Andre Braugher is Lou Grant for a new generation. Gang Related is like “Miami Vice for a new generation.” And Meloni is supposedly following in the footsteps of Al Bundy and Bernie Mac as a mean dad for, you guessed it, a new generation.
3. Max Greenfield and Greg Kinnear are good sports. But God, how we wish upfronts would do away with the incredibly strained jokey intros. Reilly had Greenfield introduce the new comedies — but not before doing a few jokes about New Girl’s Schmidt and taking off his suit jacket to reveal a sleeveless dress shirt. Ha-ha. Then Kinnear seemed genuinely surprised to be asked to introduce the drama clip package, though he, too, did an okay job with a hugely awkward role.
4. Fox sticks all of its showrunners in the cheap seats. J.J. Abrams and M. Night Shyamalan sat way in the back. Actors up in front, the better to let ad buyers gawk at them. Abrams is a producer on the upcoming robot cops show Almost Human and Shyamalan is cooking up a creepy event series called Wayward Pines. Now you know.
5. Cosmos actually looks pretty good. If you can’t get jazzed about the Carl Sagan show Cosmos, you’re probably dead inside. (It’s science and poetry! Together!) Now Seth MacFarlane and Neil deGrasse Tyson are bringing it back, and we have high hopes. The snippets in the persentation seemed solid, and Cosmos made with today’s special effects could be fantastic.
6. Jason Ritter can date both Gilmore Girls. And it’s not as weird as you’d think. He and Alexis Bledel star in the Gavin and Stacey remake Us & Them, and we barely thought about his heartbreaking relationship with Lauren Graham on Parenthood. (Barely.)
7. Long live Brittany S. Pearce. While promoting its Fox Now app, the network used plenty of promo images of Glee’s saving grace Heather Morris. Too bad her pregnancy probably means a reduced role next season.
8. Simon and Ryan still have their vaguely nasty banter thing down. Reilly trotted out Fox’s famous reality faces, but Ryan Seacrest was the only person repping for American Idol. (Reilly said in a conference call this morning that “everything at this point is on the table” re: Idol; Jackson, who’s been there from the start, has already said he’s not returning next season.) “Where’s Randy?” Simon Cowell smarmed. “Ask Kevin,” Seacrest said brightly. Oh, snap!
9. Sleepy Hollow is really going for that “something for everyone!” market. Are you a lady? This show has a sexy British guy. Are you a fella? This show has a bunch of huge guns! Are you into murder-y things? This show has a serial killer. Are you quirky? This show has some knowing banter. History buffs get some Revolutionary War footage, Bible enthusiasts get some Book of Revelations chatter, and fans of the occult get two warring covens.