Fox announced Monday that it is renewing "Glee," "Raising Hope" and "New Girl."
For those keeping tabs, that means "New Girl" is back for a second season, "Raising Hope" will return for a third and "Glee" makes a go at a fourth.
The "Glee" renewal is hardly surprising. One of the network's most prized posessions, the musical dramedy has averaged 8.9 total viewers and a 3.8 rating in the ages 18 to 49 demographic. And the buzz surrounding the show extends behind the scenes as well, especially this season as some of McKinley High's chirpers (Chris Colfer, Lea Michele and Cory Monteith) gear up for graduation. New episodes of "Glee" will begin Tuesday, following the musical dramedy's brief hiatus, and it will likely lay the groundwork for what viewers can expect in the fourth season.
And it's just as unsurprising that Fox is bringing back freshman comedy "New Girl." Starring Zooey Deschanel, the Tuesday laffer is averaging just over 8 million viewers and a 4.2 rating in the 18-49 demo. Meanwhile, fellow Tuesday comedy "Raising Hope" is standing steady with an average of 5.6 million viewers per week this season and a 2.6 rating in the young-adult demo.
The renewals come a week after the network announced it would be bringing back "Bones" for an eighth season. But still no announcements on the status of "Fringe," "Alcatraz" and "The Finder."
Dermot Mulroney has wooed his fair share of ladies on the big screen, in such romantic comedies as "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "The Wedding Date." But as of late, he's been applying those skills to the small screen with a guest-starring role on Fox's "New Girl," in which he plays the latest love interest for Zooey Deschanel's character.
Russell Schiller (Mulroney) is the fancy man in Jess' (Deschanel) life. He's a wealthy older (divorced) banker who is the father of one of her students. And you can't help but root for him because he's a man who helps a damsel in distress when her car stalls in traffic. He digs deconstructed spring rolls. His home smells like Shakespeare, if Shakespeare were a darn cowboy. He owns a hot-air balloon and a hangar in Palm Springs. He, at one time, sported a skinny ponytail. He uses the "three smile mode" when operating a Japanese bidet. And he's the kind of guy who makes ending a date with a pat on the back instead of a kiss somewhat endearing because, well, he's forgotten how to "tell whether it was the right moment." Need we say more?
After taking a breather last week, Mulroney is back to romancing Jess. Show Tracker caught up with the actor and found that he too is a fan of a future Nick/Jess hookup, has never sported a skinny ponytail and, like some folks, hasn't yet seen "Smash."
I hate to start off this way, but I have to say, I'm really upset with you.
And why is that, Yvonne?
Because I've been rooting for this Nick/Jess romance since the beginning of time and then Russell came along and totally has me rooting for him too.
Oh, I know. I know. I understand why you're upset. I do. Because, when I took the job, it was the first I had seen of the show. And I felt the same way. Nick is perfect for her, right? So what the heck? But, you know, the romances on a sitcom have a pretty short shelf life, and [with] the ones that have the potential to be the long-running romances, they, of course, have to throw obstacles in the way so that we get to watch more TV. So I'm simply that. I am a roadblock to Nick's eternal happiness.
And I get it. I like Russell and all, but can you please let [creator] Liz Meriwether know that once the roadblock is over, some of us would like Nick to make the move.
Hey, you know what, I'll be honest with you, what I'm doing with Liz is trying to get on the show more. I've finished my run, and they've finished doing this season. But I've been harassing her about how to get Russell back on, and so I cannot help you with that problem.
Fair enough. I wouldn't mind more of the Russell distraction -- because like I said, I was trying really hard not to like him. But it just didn't last.
It takes a step or two up and away from the mainstream pretty soon. He takes a turn a bit. What you'll see is a guy my age trying to act like a guy their age and it's not that good a fit, I think is the point of the story there.
Playwright-screenwriter Liz Meriwether, the creator and semi-inspiration for Fox’s freshman comedy “New Girl,” talks about the allure of TV, edgy language on network comedy and her writing role models.
You’ve done movies (“No Strings Attached”). You’ve done theater. And you had previously written for “Childrens Hospital." Why come back to TV?
What’s great about TV is the writer is the producer on the TV show and you get a lot of creative control. Just kind of being able to really get in there and get your hands dirty — be on set, be in editing, write… you learn how to do everything so quickly on TV. There’s something really fun about writing something a week before you shoot it. There are definitely moments, though, where I’m like, “I don’t know if I can continue one more hour without sleep.”
What have you found most challenging about running a show?
The job as a writer, a lot of times, you’re just sitting alone in your room thinking up — as in my case — [male anatomy] jokes. Whereas as a showrunner you have to really be a leader to a lot of different people who do a lot of different things. That’s been really great and challenging, but it’s good for me to sort of step out of my shell and be able to communicate what I want on something.
This season, there’s been a lot of edgy language and edgy female characters on network TV. What was your goal in terms of who you wanted your character Jess [played by Zooey Deschanel] to be?
I wasn’t trying to make a statement about women with Jess. I don’t think about it like that. I was just trying to write a character as honestly as I could. She started out being based on me. I wasn’t thinking about it in the larger sense of “I need to push boundaries” or “I need to be super-edgy.” I do think that some of that stuff is how people talk and it’s what’s real. If people are being more edgy in their writing, it’s probably because that’s how their friends are talking and they want to get that across.
Talk about your writing style. Who were some folks that you try to model yourself after?
I grew up watching everything Woody Allen ever made. I love his style of character-based comedy. I love romantic comedies. I think they get a bad rap, but I just love really great romantic comedies. I think a lot of them come from classic films — the ’30s and ’40s, the screwball comedies — that had really strong women interacting with men who aren’t putting up with their crap. I love smart comedy that is a mix of highbrow and lowbrow.
As the 2011 TV season tips into 2012, cable shows such as “Homeland” and “American Horror Story” have aired their explosive climaxes, while network newbies that survived the fall are just about halfway through their premiere seasons. Here’s a look at six series that showed early promise and how they’re living up to expectations.
“New Girl” | Fox
The premise: Jess (Zooey Deschanel), an attractive but socially awkward woman in her mid-20s, moves in with three single guys after she splits with a philandering tool of a boyfriend.
The vibe: Hipster comedy that avoids coming off as hipper-than-thou.
References: “That Girl,” “Three’s Company,” “Friends,” “(500) Days of Summer”
Sample line: “Pink wine makes me slutty.” — Jess, having a night out with the guys to lift her spirits
Casting call-out: Cece (Hannah Simone), Jess’ best friend, exudes Grrrrl Power in the man cave Jess now calls home.
Performance/prospects: Averaging 8.2 million viewers per episode, “New Girl” will be back for a second season. The big question is will “New Girl” start feeling old?
“Up All Night” | NBC
The premise: Yuppie power couple Chris (Will Arnett) and Reagan Brinkley (Christina Applegate) trade Jell-O shots and last calls for baby formula and middle-of-the-night feedings when newborn Amy comes along.
The vibe: Modern love and marriage. And baby makes comic relief.
Referencing: “Mad About You,” “Mr. Mom,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show”
Sample line: “He just doesn’t understand. I just had a baby. I mean underneath this, I have a girdle and two pairs of Spanx on.” — Reagan to Ava, after accepting her well-meaning friend’s gift of a red thong
Casting call-out: Maya Rudolph in Oprah mode as Reagan’s friend/boss Ava, who seems to spend as much time at the Brinkleys’ house as she does at the television studio.
Performance/prospects: With what might be described as “tweener” ratings (averaging 5.75 million viewers per episode), the series was picked up for a full season in October. Whether this baby makes it to Season 2 … stay tuned.
“Homeland” | Showtime
The premise: Having gone missing for eight years in Iraq, Marine Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damien Lewis) is rescued and returned to the U.S., where CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) suspects he has been “turned” by the enemy and tracks his every move. An overwhelming sense of paranoia and claustrophobia ensues.
The vibe: “Big Brother” meets “Nurse Jackie,” only Nurse Jackie is a pill-popping CIA agent with bipolar disorder.
References: “24,” life in these United States since 9/11
Sample line: “He’s lying!” — Agent Carrie, after Sgt. Brody aces a polygraph test in which he was asked if he had ever cheated on his wife. And she would know.
Casting call-out: Brody’s best friend and fellow Marine, Mike Faber (Diego Klattenhoff), who stood in as the man of the house while his buddy was in captivity — in more ways than one.
Performance/prospects: With its growing audience and critical acclaim, get ready for another season of white-knuckled viewing in 2012.
“Once Upon a Time” | ABC
The premise: Fairy tale characters, including Snow White (Ginnifer Godwin) and the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla), are cast out of their idyll to the fictitious small town of Storybrooke, Maine, where they lose their memories and their supernatural mojo.
The vibe: Complicated storytelling and nostalgia for simpler times.
References: “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color,” “Twin Peaks”
Sample line: “Where are we going?” “Somewhere horrible, absolutely horrible.” — an exchange between Snow White and the Evil Queen, just before the denizens of the world of make-believe are transported to contemporary America
Casting call-out: Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), long-lost biological daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White, who leaves home and moves to Storybrooke at the urging of a mysterious, precocious boy named Henry Mills (Jared Gilmore).
Performance/prospects: With viewers numbering in the 10 million range, it looks like lightning should strike twice for “Once” and fans can expect a second season.
“American Horror Story” | FX
The premise: Cheating husband Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) uproots his wife, Vivien (Connie Britton), and daughter, Violet (Taissa Farmiga), from Boston to live in L.A., where they move into a haunted house that they bought for a song. Suspended disbelief (especially on the great real estate deal part) ensues.
The vibe: Tennessee Williams throws a shower for “Rosemary’s Baby.”
Sample line: "Is everybody crazy?” — Ben to Vivien, after a drop-in from a poisonous cupcake-bearing neighbor (see below)
Casting call-out: Neighbor Constance, played to the hilt by Jessica Lange channeling Blanche DuBois.
Performance/prospects: Nearly 3 million viewers per week have bought in to the ghosts and goblins that populate the series, and its fans are rabid. FX is hoping it scares up more of them come fall.
“2 Broke Girls” | CBS
The premise: Working girl Max (Kat Dennings) and newly destitute heiress Caroline (Beth Behrs) forge a friendship and dream of starting a cupcake business while working in a Brooklyn diner. Oh, and they share a tiny apartment with Caroline’s horse, Chestnut.
The vibe: “Two and a Half Broke Girls.” Bawdy and naughty.
References: “Alice,” “The Simple Life”
Sample line: “I forgot you’re Equestrian Barbie. You came with a horse.” — Max to Caroline, after Chestnut pokes his head through the back door of Max’s apartment
Casting call-out: ”Saturday Night Live” original cast member Garrett Morris dispenses free advice as the diner’s cashier, Earl.
Performance/prospects: A huge hit for CBS in terms of viewers and the ages 18-to-49 target demographic. The girls will be back for another season of sass while they scrimp and save for that cupcake start-up.
Get out the "adorkable" meter. Zooey Deschanel phoned The Times while she was driving (we hope she was using her headset!) to the set of her hit Fox series "New Girl" to discuss the show's Golden Globe nominations. And her comments and reaction to the nominations are as cutesy as you'd expect from the gal who can make a slow-motion chicken dance look pleasant.
"The fact that people like it and it’s getting these nominations, it’s like … like, cake and ice cream,” Deschanel said, referring to the show's nod in the comedy category.
In "New Girl," Deschanel's character, Jess, moves in with three guys who take her in after a humiliating split from her boyfriend.
It's the kind of news Jess might get flustered over, Deschanel said. "She would totally trip and fall and walk into a wall. I know that because she's like me and that's sort of what I did. We worked a really long day yesterday so I was so tired this morning. I accidentally punched my wrist into a wall. I tend to walk into things when I’m tired I forget where my body ends and the world begins."
The show's creator, Liz Meriwether, is also like Jess, considering the character is semi-based on her own life. And she found it hard to wrap her head around the idea that her life is cool enough to earn a Golden Globe nomination.
"In a weird way, it's like a life nomination," said Meriwether, who got word of the show's nominations in the haze of actually writing the next script for the series.
"Deadline is in a couple of hours," she said. "But I'm sure I could get an extension."
It's not every day you find a roommate who will watch "Curly Sue" with you. Or three roommates who will sing along to Dirty Dancing's "Time of My Life" with you. It's even harder to find three straight men to do such things. But on Fox's "New Girl," Jess (played by Bambi-eyed Zooey Deschanel) has found exactly that.
Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield and Lamorne Morris play the three roommates (Nick, Schmidt and Winston, respectively) who take Jess in after a humiliating split from a boyfriend (naked-under-a-trench-coat moments rarely end well on TV). In the process, they help balance out the sometimes excessive loopiness of their female counterpart while serving as her wingmen as she navigates in a post-breakup world.
Off screen, they're just as supportive of Deschanel.
"Listen, I would have taken a job on a procedural saying 'There’s blood' or 'I found charcoal in the DNA' if it meant working with her," Greenfield said.
Johnson added: "I don’t think any of us have any weirdness about all the attention she gets. Each character has their moment. I think when our show is at its best, Zooey has a central story, and all the guys have B-stuff and it all comes together in the end."
Much of the buzz about the new fall season has been about the wisecracking women ("2 Broke Girls," "New Girl") and reboots of familiar fanchises ("Prime Suspect," the canceled "Charlie's Angels"). But largely missing are scripted shows about, and for, families.
The only new show that is targeted to a family audience is Fox's "Terra Nova." The lack of shows that families can enjoy together is a reflection of societal and pop culture changes during the last few decades. Still, the trend has sparked concern among critics who decry the absence of shows such as "The Cosby Show" or "Little House on the Prairie" that brought families together in the living room.
For more about why this season is not so "all in the family," read this feature.
Fox's "New Girl" is going to be around for a while.
The comedy, starring Zooey Deschanel as an awkward single woman who moves in with three single men following a bad breakup, has been given a full season order by the network. Fox has ordered an additional 11 episodes, bringing the season order to 24 episodes.
The announcement came after last week's premiere and Tuesday's second episode scored high ratings.
"New Girl" premiered as Fox's highest rated fall sitcom in 10 years.
"It's great that the audience has responded so positively, and we're confident that even more people will embrace the show -- and more comedy on Fox -- this season," said Fox President of Entertainment Kevin Reilly.