If Kevin Reilly has his way, the time-honored practice of carving the broadcast television season into three distinct cycles (fall, midseason, sleepaway camp) will go the way of the variety show. Speaking last week at the Television Critics Association’s Winter Press Tour, Fox’s entertainment chairman effectively declared that he was sending pilot season to a nice farm where it could romp and play with other outmoded concepts.
“The broadcast, development and scheduling system was built for a different era,” Reilly said. “Honestly, it’s nothing short of a miracle that the talent is able to produce anything of quality in that environment.”
In scrapping pilot season, Fox is taking a big step toward tearing down some of network TV’s more arbitrary (and expensive) conventions—which, in turn, should lead to a more fluid and dynamic programming model. In the meantime, we remain stuck with midseason, that lukewarm limbo period in which a few sleeper shows are propped up against a bunch of half-baked costume dramas, hyperactive genre mashups and ham-fisted medical melodramas.
What follows is an advance look at the midwinter mishegas.