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'Lethal Weapon,' Fox's top-rated show here, moving to Tuesdays

The only Fox program that I watch regularly is "Lethal Weapon" and I'm not alone in Western New York.

It is the highest-rated Fox program here after live viewing and seven days later on television, barely edging the retired "Bones" and the national hit "Empire."

So my primary concern Monday when Fox announced its fall schedule was what the network was going to do with its surprise hit of the season based on the hit movies.

Fox moved the buddy cop series starring Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans from 8 p.m. Wednesday to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the hopes of providing a strong enough lead-in to the midseason comedy success "The Mick" and the critically-acclaimed but little-watched "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."

The move is part of Fox's somewhat risky strategy of moving several of its stronger performing shows, some to 8 p.m. time slots, which means they air at 7 p.m. Central time.

"Empire" has been moved to 8 p.m. Wednesday as the lead-in for "Star," "Gotham" has been moved to 8 p.m. Thursday to be the lead-in for the new Seth MacFarlane series "The Orville," and "Lucifer" has been moved to 8 p.m. Monday as the lead-in for the new Marvel series "The Gifted."

WUTV (Channel 29) never has been a strong Fox affiliate, with none of its series averaging a 5 household rating here this past season even after viewing seven days later on television but not including streaming sites.

In a conference call Monday, Fox executives Dana Walden and Gary Newman noted their shows get as much viewing on DVRs, On Demand, streaming sites and other secondary ways as they do when they air live.

In Western New York, many Fox shows get live ratings of 2 and under, including "The Mick" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," and most don't get above a 2 when viewed up to seven days later on television. It doesn't include streaming sites, whose audience isn't measured here.

"Lethal Weapon" averaged a 4.9 rating live and seven days later, with "Bones" and "Empire" averaging a 4.8 here. "Empire" had the highest live rating of a 4.2 but "Lethal Weapon" overtook as the highest-rated program with a stronger gain of viewers seven days after it aired.

Of course, Fox is more about demographics than household ratings and that's where "Empire" wins. It has a Fox high 3.4 rating here in the age 18-49 category that advertisers love and the same rating in the age 25-54 demographic.

The only Fox programs that gets close to that rating in the demos here are the animated Sunday series "Family Guy" and the ageless "The Simpsons." "Family Guy" actually has a slightly higher rating than "Empire" in the 25-54 demographic.

Besides the move of "Lethal Weapon," the other thing that caught my attention in the Fox schedule is that Emily Van Camp, the star of "Everwood" and "Revenge," is coming back to television as one of the stars of the new Fox medical series "The Resident." However, "The Resident" doesn't appear until mid-season.

Like NBC, Fox has only scheduled three new fall series and is concentrating on mid-season.

Here is a quick look at the fall shows:

"The Gifted," 9 p.m. Monday:  Steve Moyer ("True Blood" and Fox's "Shots Fired") and Amy Acker ("Person of Interest") star as the parents of teenage mutants with special powers who flee from a government agency that tracks down mutants. As an added complication, Moyer's character is a prosecutor in the district attorney's office that goes after mutants like his children.

"The Orville," 9 p.m. Thursday: Described as MacFarlane's passion project, the writer-producer of "Family Guy" stars in a science fiction series set 400 years ago and seems designed to be a comical version of "Star Trek." MacFarlane's character gets to command the ship U.S.S. Orville, whose first officer is his ex-wife (Adrianne Palicki of "Friday Night Lights"). From the brief clip shown, the show has the sensibility of the MacFarlane movie "A Million Ways to Die in the West" that proved it is a lot easier to be funnier in an animated show than a movie with human characters. His series has one other obstacle to overcome – it is airing opposite NBC's megahit "This Is Us." That likely means it will have to get a large audience up to seven days after it airs.

"Ghosted," 8:30 p.m. Sunday: Adam Scott, most recently seen in HBO's "Big Little Lies," and Craig Robinson ("The Office") star in a comedy apparently inspired by "The X-Files" (which is coming back this season with 10 episodes) about partners trying to save the human race from aliens. Walden noted that Scott and Robinson are friends in real life.

During the conference call, Walden also explained that Fox tried to persuade the producers of "American Idol" that bringing it back next season was too soon. The producers then made a deal with ABC to bring in back this upcoming season.

Walden said she believed that bringing it back so soon after Fox heavily promoted what it called its final season wouldn't have played well with the audience. She thought waiting until 2020 would have been preferable.

It is hard to blame the producers for not wanting to wait until 2020. After all, who knows what the TV world – or the world – will look like then.




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