Fox late Friday gave fans of its Tuesday night comedies something to cheer about, announcing it has picked up the gloriously goofy, Golden Globe Award-winning ensemble Brooklyn Nine-Nine for a second season, while booking return engagements for veteran sitcoms New Girl and The Mindy Project.
The network did not indicate exactly how many episodes of each series it has ordered, saying only that they all would be back on the schedule in the 2014-15 broadcast TV season.
Also getting a new lease on life is the sophomore thriller The Following.
While none of the four shows is exactly a ratings giant (more on that in a moment), Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly characterized them as “core assets within our … portfolio of content,” adding that the programs are “some of the best and [most] acclaimed” on TV.
Fox cautioned that announcements on other pickups have yet to be made, but that will be of little solace to the cast of its 8 p.m. sitcom, Dads. Over the course of its 18-episode run, Seth MacFarlane’s live-action comedy averaged just 3.51 million live-plus-same-day viewers and a 1.4 in the adults 18-49 demo.
A newcomer with a far better shot at a renewal is J.J. Abrams’ futuristic cop show, Almost Human. Averaging 6.23 million viewers and a 1.9 in the dollar demo, Human may be worth risking another 13-episode arc.
Fellow freshman Sleepy Hollow was picked up for a second season on Oct. 3, just three weeks after it premiered. It joins already-renewed Fox series Glee, Bones, Bob’s Burgers and The Simpsons on the safe list.
If nothing else, picking up New Girl and Mindy would seem to suggest that Fox is going to take at least one last crack at a two-hour Tuesday comedy block. Still, space is going to be tight, as Fox already has commitments going forward with the likes of John Mulaney, Tina Fey and Will Forte.
If New Girl’s renewal seems like a no-brainer—with a full season order of at least 22 episodes, the show is syndication-ready—its ratings have been less than sharp. Season 3 is averaging 3.59 million viewers and a 1.8 in the demo, and while it remains Fox’s highest-rated comedy, New Girl’s glory days are far behind it. (The first season of the Zooey Deschanel vehicle averaged 6.36 million viewers and a 3.2 rating; in other words, the show has lost 44 percent of its demo.)
The Mindy Project is also slumping, averaging a 1.4 in the demo through the first 14 episodes of its second season. Luckily, the Mindy Kaling comedy draws one of Fox’s more upscale audiences.
On the drama front, while Fox has a number of high-profile series in the mix for next year, including the Batman prequel Gotham and the Terrence Howard hip-hop potboiler Empire, Reilly and Co. deemed The Following a worthy candidate for at least a 13-epiosde order. After winning over viewers last spring with its macabre serial killer storyline (it tied NBC’s Revolution as the top-rated new drama series of 2012-13), The Following has had a harder time scaring up support. In its Monday night time slot leading out of Almost Human, the Kevin Bacon kill-fest is down to a 1.8 in the demo.
Fox will lay out its full prime-time broadcast schedule on the afternoon of May 12 when it kicks off its annual upfront presentation at New York’s Beacon Theatre.