Given that it doesn’t program a 10 p.m. hour, FOX’s presentation of its new material at Monday’s Upfront in New York City was considerably shorter than that of NBC. With a bevy of pilots to choose from, FOX chose its offerings for the 2012-2013 season carefully — particularly when it comes to dramas, of which it only picked up two.
President Kevin Reilly noted that the network wasn’t just looking for ratings and quality from its shows, but for “cultural significance.” They’ve entered the pop culture canon with shows like “Glee,” and achieved cult success with buzzed about shows like “Fringe,” and they’re looking to maintain that legacy going into the 2012-2013 season. The two comedies they did pick up are risky, but for good reason.
FOX will use “Bones” on Mondays at 8 p.m. as a launchpad for both shows, beginning with “The Mob Doctor” this fall at 9 p.m. on Monday. From Josh Berman and Rob Wright, “The Mob Doctor” follows Jordana Spiro as Grace, a surgeon who finds herself indebted to a mob boss when she makes a deal to clear her brother of his own ties to the mafia in Chicago. At first, she’s just doing small, off-the-radar jobs for crime bosses — you know, removing the occasional screwdriver from someone’s head.
Things get complicated when she’s asked to do something that crosses her moral boundaries. The show spotlights her dual life, split between the mafia and her coworkers at the hospital. The show appears well executed, and Spiro definitely shows a dynamic side to her that we didn’t see when she was the star of “My Boys.” And while a mafia story provides built-in intrigue, there’s a question of sustainability. We’ll definitely be watching — mostly for “Friday Night Lights” alum Zach Gilford, who we’re still rooting for in a post-Saracen TV landscape.
At midseason, “The Mob Doctor” will be replaced by Kevin Williamson’s “The Following,” which Reilly touts as their new “24.” The show abandons the teen angst fare on which Williamson built his career, in favor of diving headfirst into the twisted mind of a serial killer — and the perhaps more twisted mind of the man who knows him best. Kevin Bacon plays an FBI agent who, after 8 years off the force, is asked to return to aid in the investigation of Joe Purefoy‘s serial killer — the man he put in prison 8 years earlier — after the killer escapes. The only problem is, the killer has made some connections, and it doesn’t matter whether he’s behind bars. His influence has spread to followers across the country, hidden in the strangest of places.
Williamson’s already got some serial killer cred from his “Scream” franchise, but “The Following” doesn’t have a trace of that signature sarcasm and parody of the genre. Instead, it pushes past the humor and delves into the downright chilling, with a deranged love triangle and a damaged hero who gives the impression that he, himself, could snap at any moment. We’re beyond intrigued by this one, and glad that the mid-season pickup means that the entire 15-episode season will run consecutively, without a hiatus or any repeats.
Which of these two shows will you check out?