Kiefer Sutherland, 24

Kelsey McNeal / Fox

Fox speaks geek.

The network unveiled fall—and spring—schedules fit for Comic-Con, replete with new series by Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams, a Family Guy spinoff, a returning Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and a 24 prequel.

The autograph lines are to the left.

Today's announcements were not all fanboy fun. There were sober assessments of American Idol. There were cancellations, most notably of the heavily promoted comedy Back to You.

And there was a ringing endorsement of Paula Abdul.

"We love Paula. She's coming back," Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said of the oft-judged Idol judge.

But asked if he was happy with Idol overall this season—the show is down 5 percent on Tuesdays, and 10 percent on Wednesdays, neither an unusual decrease for television, circa 2008—Fox Entertainment Chairman Peter Liguori sounded surprisingly like he wasn't. Not entirely, anyway.

"I would say I'm satisfied creatively," Liguori said, "but not necessarily satisfied with the performance."

"Both the network and the producers really want to take a look at the show for next year."

No specific changes were discussed. And after Reilly reminded that Idol, seven seasons old and still bigger than anything else on TV, was "not exactly in its death throes," Liguori chimed in, "This show still has a lot of juice in it."

Out of juice were the likes of New Amsterdam, Unhitched, The Return of Jezebel James, K-Ville, Nashville, The Next Great American Band and Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton's Back to You, all shunned for spots in the fall and spring.

Though Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was never as big as its big premiere in January, it earned a fall berth. Ditto for 'Til Death, a perennial borderline show that will live to see its third season.

24, which sat out all of this past season because of the writers' strike, will launch its long-delayed seventh season in January. Viewers' reward for the wait: the two-hour prequel that'll air in November. Fox says the story will find Jack Bauer in South Africa. In the timeline of the series, it'll take place "a few months" before the clock on season seven begins ticking.

In all, Fox announced two new fall shows, including Fringe, a sci-fi-ish thriller from J.J. Abrams featuring the prime-time return of Dawson's Creek's Joshua Jackson.

Dollhouse, the Joss Whedon project starring Eliza Dushku as the leader of gang of personality swappers, will launch in the spring as part of Fox's annual American Idol-is-back schedule.

The other new shows:

  • Do Not Disturb (working title): A fall comedy about the antics at a hotel, starring Carpoolers survivor Jerry O'Connell.
  • Sit Down, Shut Up: A spring animated series about the antics at a high school, from Arrested Development's Mitchell Hurwitz.
  • The Cleveland Show: The Family Guy spinoff, set for a spring launch, starring the Griffin family's neighbor, Cleveland Brown.
  • Secret Millionaire: A new reality series in which millionaires are dispatched to rub elbows with the little people, and make their rich selves feel better. Oh, and do good and stuff, too.

Here's a night-by-night look at Fox's fall lineup:

Sunday: The OT (football postgame show), The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy, American Dad

Monday: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Prison Break

Tuesday: House, Fringe

Wednesday: Bones, 'Til Death, Do Not Disturb

Thursday: The Moment of Truth, Kitchen Nightmares

Friday: Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Don't Forget the Lyrics

Saturday: Cops, America's Most Wanted

And here's a night-by-night look at Fox's spring schedule:

Sunday: Various reruns, The Simpsons, King of the Hill/Sit Down, Shut Up, Family Guy, American Dad/The Cleveland Show

Monday: Dollhouse, 24

Tuesday: American Idol, Fringe

Wednesday: Bones, American Idol (30 minutes), TBA comedy

Thursday: Hell's Kitchen, Secret Millionaire

Friday: Bones, 'Til Death, Do Not Disturb

Saturday: Cops, America's Most Wanted

Head over to Watch With Kristin for more on the new TV schedules!

(Originally published May 15, 2008 at 10:32 a.m. PT.)

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