Tuesday, April 24, 2012

FOX 25th Anniversary Special

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Up until earlier this year, I didn't know that I was older than FOX. I knew it was younger than ABC, CBS, and NBC, but I didn't realize just how new the network is! So, imagine my amazement when I thought about the fact that The Simpsons is almost as old as the network! I was even more intrigued when I heard a couple of weeks ago that they'd be re-airing the pilot from Married with Children, their first primetime series. I never liked that show (nothing changed this time around, either), but a whole new dimension is added when you think about it being such an early program for FOX. Actually, the special got me thinking about all sorts of things that set apart FOX from the other networks - some of which are rather remarkable, really. So, I'll use those to direct the bullet points of this article. Agree, disagree, think completely different things stood out? Let us know in the comments!
CR: Sony Pictures Television
- Using animated characters to fill the tables at an awards dinner. It was kinda funny overall, but there were little things that made this a success. The kids table, the blurred-out faces of criminals on COPS, Stewie's questioning of how you can be a fan of an entire corporation... great lines. Of course, the dropping of names got a little old, and the whole "if they wanted us to be nicer, they probably shouldn't have canceled us twice," was expected, but it made for a nice intro and cut-ins throughout.

- Spending a chunk of time looking at FOX's primetime animated series was good, as I've often argued that it's weird for a major network to devote so much time to the Animation Domination, but this gave some background on the risks that FOX took in starting that trend, and building upon it over the years. And, Primetime Comedy Series Emmy nomination or not, why would you review politically incorrect Family Guy before flagship The Simpsons? A quick compilation of some of the celebrity voices was fun, though including Kelsey Grammer to talk about his recurring role of Sideshow Bob was a bit odd.

- In the past, I've thought about COPS being such an early reality show, but hadn't considered the implications it really created in that field. When you consider some of the other reality junk that FOX has done (Shocking Behavior Caught on Tape, Celebrity Boxing, and When Animals Attack,for instance), it really just makes you think about how they paved the way for people to post that stuff on the internet!

- I also appreciated how they made fund of themselves multiple times. Not just the standard "we're FOX, not FOX News" line, but listing off some of their unsuccessful series and even showing a few screenshots from them (I had only learned that Top of the Heap existed a couple days earlier, so that split-second with Matthew LeBlanc caught my eye!) was fun. And, let's not forget the animated versions of the former network presidents! Why don't more networks try this? It certainly works for FOX... they've been doing it since Married with Children, and have included it in everything from Family Guy and The Simpsons to X-Files.

- Hello, Sci-Fi! I remember how big The X-Files was when I was younger, and knew that it was a big step in launching science fiction television series, but hadn't thought about how hard FOX pushed for that to work. Too bad they didn't say more about Firefly, eh? I think the stand-out moment in this area was when David Duchovny said, "when I catch the show on TV now it's like watching home movies."

- Another area where FOX apparently tried really hard? Matchmaking. I hadn't realized that Who wants to Marry a Millionaire?, Married by America, Mr. Personality, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, AND Joe Millionaire were all FOX shows! Yikes!

- Reuniting the cast of Married with Children for the first time in fifteen years was a really important thing to do - yes, it gives off the impression that you're good to work for, as people who were there in the beginning still help you out, but it also gave a little sense of family, and I was sad that they weren't able to bring back more casts in this way. Why couldn't we have had more Beverly Hills, 90210 folks? We all know that Shannen Doherty takes whatever she can get on TV anymore, nobody's thought about Gabrielle Carteris in years, and nobody wants Ian Ziering, but what was with Jason Priestly being the only hottie to appear? And, speaking of which, why did we completely ignore the second HALF of that series? The only clip I saw in there that was post-Andrea's baby was the one with Val contemplating suicide. It also seemed that maybe too much time went into earlier parts of the special, as the partial cast of That 70s Show only had a minute or two.
CR: Beth Dubber / FOX
- I was a little disappointed with the lack of attention paid to the currently-running programs on the network. A little Bones here, a mention of Fringe there... we got a little background on House (Hugh Laurie's right - that program probably wouldn't have lasted so long with another network) and more than one shameless plug for New Girl, but that was pretty much it. And, I gotta say, the junk about "New Girl - she's not moving. That's right, she'll be Tuesday nights at 9 for a long time," was a bit eerie, don't you think?

- While I don't mind Ryan Seacrest being the host of the special, I thought that there was entirely too much time spent on American Idol. I don't care that it's been such a break-out and inspired so many other reality competition series (from So You Think You Can Dance to Hell's Kitchen), we didn't need to see clips from EVERY season, re-announce EVERY winner, catch a bunch of auditions, and hear the harsh criticism of Simon Cowell yet again. I'll admit, though, it was a throwback to see William Hung again!

- I think the biggest surprise of the night (for me) was learning that FOX introduced putting a score box on the screen during sports! I never understood the phrase "what's the score?" when you enter a room - why wouldn't you just look at the screen? Well, now I understand that this didn't exist pre-1994. Nice advancement!

- Given the previews and clips we kept seeing about In Living Color, I was expecting to see more about the "edgy, raw" show that began in 1990. And, I don't know that the point about it getting away with more then than they could now fits, exactly. No, the nation was not as stringent on political correctness twenty years ago, but there are other areas where they could do so much more now than they could have then, so it's really more of a toss-up.

- Regular readers know that I watch mainly comedies, but I've been attached to many a drama in the past (hence how I've seen every episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 at least twice, and the bulk of the series three times). The bits of Party of Five and The O.C. that were shown made me seriously consider going back to them - I was late learning about the former and gave up on the latter in the first season - they could be well worth the time. Luckily, I was also reminded of shows that I don't care about, like Melrose Place and The Simple Life.
CR: Sam Jones / FOX

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email This Pin This

No comments: