Fox Moves Further Toward Reality TV Network by Canceling Five Programs

COMMENTARY | “Human Target,” “The Chicago Code,” and “Lie to Me” have all been canceled by Fox. Fox actually canceled five shows that air Monday nights in order to clear out the network schedule for next fall, basically paving the way for “The X-Factor” to control a lot of the open timeslots. With “American Idol” primed to return for another spring, it could be much easier for the network to simply rely upon the reality competitions to survive.

The two others that were canceled were “Breaking In” and “Traffic Light,” both new to the network this past year. By making the decision to cut these five from its normal rotation, Fox is really clearing the decks, but this could also be something that frustrates quite a few fans.

Entertainment Weekly broke the news, noting that “Human Target” and “Lie to Me” were both still bringing in the viewers (7.6 million per episode), and had much higher ratings than shows like “Third Rock” or anything the CW has to offer. For “Target,” it means that the show won’t be getting a third season in the fall, after getting a second chance to prove itself this past autumn. Apparently the brass didn’t feel that the numbers were high enough to warrant a renewal.

It’s not that surprising that Fox has decided to be utterly ruthless when it comes to cancellations this time around, especially when everyone knows exactly what the network is trying to do. This is going to be a reality competition network soon, with the likes of “Idol,” “X-Factor,” and “Hell’s Kitchen” controlling most of the free hours the network has to work with. When Fox only has two hours of original programming every evening, it also limits the number of timeslots that are available.

There are going to be a lot of mixed reactions about which shows survived and which ones didn’t, especially when it comes to the writing that is involved. Programs like “Glee” have survived because of their following, but those with better writing, like “The Chicago Code,” simply couldn’t get the following to garner another year on the network. This is certainly going to create a lot of debate and ill will toward a channel that never seems to allow shows to spread their wings.

Canceling five programs in one day is definitely shocking, and it’s removing a lot of the buzz from Fox. It seemed like the network was really trying hard to get original programming on the air, bailing on the idea far too soon. Fox execs better hope that “The X-Factor” turns into a huge success in the fall.