Fox Leans Into Animation “Moment” With Strike-Impacted Fall Schedule As Deadline Nears For Return Of Scripted Originals In 2023-24 Broadcast Season

Krapopolis, the Dan Harmon-created animated series that was renewed for its third season before audiences saw a frame, is finally coming to Fox later this month.

It “feels like a moment” for the network, according to Fox’s President of Entertainment Michael Thorn, as it becomes one of the rare, new scripted originals launching on broadcast television this year.

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But the launch also masks a major issue the broadcast networks face that the streamers and cable networks do not: if the writers and actors strikes don’t end soon, there will be very few new scripted hours of television on Fox as well as ABC, CBS and NBC this season.  

“Beyond being incredibly passionate about [Krapopolis] and Dan Harmon’s vision, we’re invested, because we’ve already ordered a third cycle,” Thorn told Deadline. “On a show level, it’s fantastic. But on a corporate strategy level, it’s really symbolic for us. Several years ago, when we were looking at Fox as an independent network, we decided to stay in the animation business… and we acquired Bento Box. This is the first Bento Box-owned show, so we couldn’t be prouder.”

Thorn is hopeful that Krapopolis can become a “calling card for our growth strategy” that also includes signing direct deals with creators such as Harmon. “Dan Harmon was one of the first and certainly the biggest deal we made. This show is a coming together and realization of two of strategies and we’re excited,” he added.

The comedy, which is set in mythical ancient Greece, stars the voice talent of Hannah Waddingham, Richard Ayoade, Matt Berry, Pam Murphy and Duncan Trussell. It launches on September 24 after an NFL doubleheader before moving to its regular timeslot as part of Fox’s Animation Domination block that also includes The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers and Family Guy on October 1.

Krapopolis will be joined midseason by Grimsburg, the Jon Hamm-narrated detective comedy. Rather than launch them together in a block, Thorn said that it wanted to give the shows a “curated” launch strategy so each series can get the “spotlight”.

“One of the things we feel fortunate about at the moment, even though there’s a strike, is our Sunday night premiere when all the show’s premiere on October 1. It’s the only full night of [new] scripted programming on the entire broadcast schedule,” he added.

Having said all of this, Thorn is frightfully aware that the strikes have derailed the fall schedule, and potentially midseason, a blow for returning shows such as Animal Control, Alert: Missing Persons Unit and Accused as well as new series such as Doc and Rescue: Hi-Surf.

“The live-action scripted part has stalled, but we’re, we’re going to return those shows with vigor,” he said. “We really pride ourselves on less is more and we were fortunate to be able to really put our money where our mouth is in that regard. When we return, Animal Control is going to get the full backing of this far-reaching platform [as will] John Wells’ new show, Rescue: Hi-Surf, when we launch it.”

Thorn is cognizant that there will be a big gap for viewers and there is a fear that audiences will have forgotten some of these returning shows. He hopes that continuity marketing campaigns can help “maintain the incredible momentum we had at the beginning of this year”.

October 1 is seen as the date that the strikes need to be resolved by so scripted shows, which also include 9-1-1: Lone Star and The Cleaning Lady, have a chance of returning to air during the 2023-24 broadcast season.

“On a returning show, you can really be up and running and in two months,” he said.

“You’re going get to a point in the fall in the late fall, where it’s going to be very hard to launch within the traditional TV viewing season,” he added. “If that means the show could work and succeed in the summer, great. If it’s better to wait for the fall and use football and sports… we’ll do that. You could use October 1 as the date. Every show is different but sometimes when you’re staring at a May launch date, you always wonder is that the best time.”

While the writers strike means that traditional development is not currently taking place, Thorn and his team are looking at other options.

Last year, Deadline revealed that Fox had optioned a “best-selling British thriller” and was “looking into” an international detective franchise. These form part of an international co-production strategy.

“We’re very open to sharing ownership and unique production models. So even before the strike, we have been talking to UK, European, Canadian and Australian companies about unique content models and we will continue those conversations during the strike, and even when the strike is over. It’s a global marketplace, and you never know where [a hit] is going to come from,” he added.  

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