In the trailer for the forthcoming Fox comedy Grandfathered, John Stamos looks into a mirror, plucks a gray hair, and smiles. The image sums up many of the strategies Fox intends to employ next season, from plucking aging franchises from its line-up (big news: American Idol will end its 15-year run this time next year) to lightening up with icons that appeal to the nostalgia of network adult demo, including Stamos, Rob Lowe, and Fred Savage.
The 10 new shows that Fox will air next season include a bunch of high concept procedurals—Minority Report will debut this fall; Lucifer and The Frankenstein Code will debut at midseason—but the most promising show appears to the most conventional. Here’s a quick take on four of the five new shows Fox will launch this fall. The omission: Scream Queens, the buzzy bubblegum horror drama created by American Horror Story producer Ryan Murphy. Fox has not yet released a full trailer to the public.
Fox’s executive ranks must be well stocked with Full House fanboys, because the trailer for Grandfathered oozes with supreme confidence that TV viewers have some deep abiding passion for John Stamos. The former Beach Boys fill-in drummer and General Hospital heartthrob (Stamos will always be Blackie to me) plays a forever young, middle-aged playboy restaurant owner—his vibe reminds me of Rob Lowe’s DirecTV parody of himself—who learns that he has an adult son via a years-ago fling. What’s more, said son is a single father to a young daughter, making our vain hero grandfather. I don’t doubt Stamos’ power to charm an audience, but will Grandfathered let Stamos be anything less than charming? The trailer suggests the softest, gentlest comedy in Fox history.
Speaking of Rob Lowe, Fox’s raid on the TV stars of the ’80s continues with a sitcom that casts The West Wing and Parks and Recreation vet as… a TV star just coming off en eight-year run playing a successful lawyer. With nothing better to do with his life, apparently, Lowe’s character teams up with his brother—a real lawyer, and not nearly as smooth, played by Fred Savage (The Wonder Years)—to help him try cases… provided he passes the bar. Or not! Like Grandfathered, the trailer for The Grinder suggests a show that trades off the image that Lowe has made for himself by spoofing it, and promises that we’ll be entertained by the spectacle of two TV legends playing bickering brothers. I suspect it’ll only make me feel old.
In 2002, director Steven Spielberg teamed with Tom Cruise to make one of the better sci-fi action flicks of the young century, a kinetic, imaginative, twisty adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1956 short story. It imagined a dystopian future where a trio of precognitive children are cultivated and exploited to help police prevent crimes before they happened. This sequel series is steeped in the film’s visual look and set in its world. The year is 2065. One of the precogs is now grown and still using his powers to play vigilante crime-stopper in his city, with some help from a police detective. It looks like a serious, somber sci-fi iZombie (minus the zombies), but much will depend on if it can make its future-set storytelling world rich, varied and visually compelling—and if its cast can pop and grab the audience.
Fox’s lowest-concept new show actually looks like the most fun and most likely to succeed. Morris Chestnut stars as TV’s latest irreverent genius murder solver, a brilliant private pathologist (translation: he performs autopsies) whose bad ticker might stop on him sometime in the next 10 years. Any other show might play this as morbid-moody existential drama and make its protagonist more anti-heroic than heroic. But the trailer suggests that Chestnut plays Dr. Beaumont Rosewood as a sexy, witty, vibrant force of nature. He’s got the obligatory straight arrow cop, played by Jaina Lee Ortiz, but their chemistry seems promising. With Rosewood, Fox continues its embrace of diversity (see: Empire) and might have a replacement for the aging Bones.