The key phrase at Fox, coming off a successful season and a good sweeps period, was "calculated stability" as Peter Roth, President. Fox Entertainment Group, announced only three new one-hour dramas and two new sitcoms--along with a compilation of bloopers, outtakes and home video flubs, under the World's Funniest ... rubric--as additions to the nine returning series on the network's weekly schedule.
Fox's Sunday night stays intact, with cartoon hits The Simpsons and King of the Hill still preceding The X-Files, which Roth says has gone from a "cult hit to a cultural phenomenon." He gave no clue about where Files goes from its cliffhanger ending, with a despondent Agent Mulder committing suicide--maybe.
Meanwhile Michael Sullivan, UPN's President of Entertainment, made more radical moves at his struggling network, announcing four new sitcoms for the Monday and Tuesday nights mix of comedy half-hours and the addition of a fourth night of programming, beginning early in l998 when UPN's Thursday Night Sci-Movie will be added to a schedule which already has that genre well covered with The Sentinel and Star Trek: Voyager on Wednesdays.
Shows pulled from Fox to make way for their limited changes are the drama Sliders and the sitcom Ned & Stacey. Living Single and New York Undercover are being re-tooled to be available for mid-season, and the soap Pacific Palisades will be re-assessed after additional episodes air this summer.
Quirkiest of the new dramas is Ally McBeal to follow Melrose Place Monday nights, created by David E.Kelley (Picket Fences), in which the audience will not just see what the young lawyer, played by Calista Flockhart, thinks but also what she sees in her mind's eye.
The other two hours are The Visitor, about a time-travel pilot with alien intelligence, which will join Millennium on Fridays, and 413 Hope Street about crisis center do-gooders which will follow the two new sitcoms of Thursdays.
Those sitcoms are both buddy comedies, Rewind, with flashbacks which show not much has changed since high school, and Between Brothers about four siblings with little in common but their surname.
At UPN the most notable sitcom is Clueless which had been dropped by ABC, which will now air on Tuesdays as lead-in to Moesha, one of the network's few successes.
The others are Hitz, about young music industry executives, Head Over Heels about a squabbling family who run a video dating service, and Good News, another effort to try to have fun with the clergy. Waiting in the wings for mid-season is also Ruby, a comedy about a superstar puppet which will be voiced by Whoopi Goldberg.