Fox cleaned the comedy deck today, pulling the plug on freshman series Dads, Enlisted and Surviving Jack and passing on half-hour pilots Fatrick, Dead Boss and No Place Like Home. The two Fox comedy pilots that had been considered strongest, Sober Companion and Cabot College, remain in contention as Fox is said to be mulling a change in its comedy strategy for next season, likely abandoning the two-hour comedy block, which had been struggling mightily. On the hourlong side, there will be no second season for Rake though it has not been officially cancelled.
The cancellation of Dads, Enlisted and Surviving Jack leaves Brooklyn Nine-Nine as the only freshman Fox comedy to make it to a second season. There had been talk as recently as several days ago about Dads possibly getting a reprieve. While not well received by critics, to put it mildly, the multi-camera series performed as well or even better than the renewed Fox comedies — Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl and The Mindy Project – and it comes from sister studio 20th TV and one of Fox’s top producers, Seth MacFarlane.
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Enlisted and Surviving Jack both received pretty decent reviews, and Surviving Jack gets credit for showing us how good a comedy actor Chris Meloni is. But both were mired by dismal ratings. Neither was given a fair shake by being slotted outside of Fox’s Tuesday comedy block. Surviving Jack ran behind an anemic American Idol — which, even in its heyday, has not been able to successfully launch a comedy series. Enlisted got dealt an even harder hand with a Friday time period where it never had a chance.
On the pilot front, a quiet panic set in yesterday when Fox followed the pickup to series of all three of its drama pilots not with a new comedy series order but an extra 10-episode pickup for already greenlighted comedy Mulaney. With three new series already on deck for next season — Mulaney, Last Man On Earth starring Will Forte (for midseason) and Weird Loners starring Becki Newton — and Fox brass said to not be particularly high on this season’s batch of comedy pilots, word started coming in that the network might pass on all of its half-hour pilots or pick up as few as one. Fox has now narrowed its choices to two: the odd-couple comedy Sober Companion starring Nick Frost and Justin Long and Matt Hubbard’s frat comedy Cabot College, which had been geared toward a series order. Fox’s decision to cancel all of its remaining comedy series certainly opens up the possibility for another new comedy series order.