michael dworkis looks at fox’s sunday animation block…
You know who dominates Fox right now? The Simpsons. It seems like every year the same rumors fly around, where the voice actors threaten to strike if they do not get another couple hundred-thousand in their wallets, executives at Fox say it is time for The Simpsons to end, and that “this” season would be its last.
This has been happening for the past, three, maybe four years already? The Simpsons is still going strong. Various websites will claim to know the inside story. The actors took a pay cut. The production costs were cut, they hired trained chimpanzees to do the animation. Whatever. You know why The Simpsons are still on the air? Fox realizes this is the show that made their Animation Domination block successful. The Simpsons once again have another season, and may very well stretch it to season number 25. Fans have come and go, but when you are asked to name a long-running animated cartoon on Fox, you think The Simpsons. If you say something else, you are a liar.
What happened to the rest of the shows?
Well, Allen Gregory was a total disaster and nearly killed the Animation Domination block. Never in the history of Fox has one show brought down ratings to shows running before and after it. Allen Gregory will never be seen again. Napoleon Dynamite. I thought this show had a spark of a chance, considering the movie was immensely popular at its release. Boy, was I wrong. This show tanked, and thankfully most people never even realized it existed in the first place. The Cleveland Show? The only reason this show is still on is… is… I CAN’T THINK OF A REASON. Sweet Primus, why is this Family Guy spinoff still on the air? Well, likely because Fox has NOTHING ELSE. Their lineup this Fall? Cleveland Show at 7:30, The Simpsons at 8, Bob’s Burgers at 8:30, Family Guy at 9, and American Dad at 9:30. The last two you can switch around if you care, because they are essentially the same show, but American Dad has Patrick Stewart, so hells yeah.
Family Guy, somehow, after not one but two lackluster seasons, managed to survive the chopping block. It is easy to understand why. Family Guy still brings in enough ratings. Love it or hate it, most people still watch it. I watched it regularly, and I hated over half the episodes from last season. They were stinking awful. The key here is, I still watched it. It is a show, while the humor is often repetitive and mostly attempting shock value, there is a charm that brings the viewer back. Again, it works for Fox, and like The Simpsons, it still brings the ratings.
I am surprised a show like Bob’s Burgers is still around. I just cannot get into this show. I do not get the humor, and frankly each character feels the same to me. They all whine, they all complain, and then a burger gets served. Thankfully, I do not see any spinoffs from that show anytime soon.
American Dad, while very much like Family Guy, does have its own niche as well. Often focusing on the absurdities of the government, and frankly this family is more screwed up than the Brady Bunch. I do not like this show. It feels the same as The Cleveland Show. Same cast of characters. Same personalities. Same or worse dysfunctional family. It is the same formula over and over.
But, it works. As much as I dislike repetitive and frankly unoriginality, this is not necessarily what television networks want. They want ratings. They want advertisers and if these are the shows that deliver it, then good for them. They have a working formula and they are sticking to it.
Is there room for something new? After the abysmal failures of Napoleon Dynamite and Allen Gregory, will Fox ever try something new? Yes, they will. Give it time, but a new idea will surface. Shows like Futurama and Family Guy were under that same scrutinous microscope at one point, and while those shows initially struggled, they eventually became big hits. Give it time, and something new will break through. Until that time, The Simpsons, no matter how many disputes or rumors of its demise will swirl around the internet, will truly be the “Domination” in Fox’s Animation Domination lineup.