Kevin Reilly, president of entertainment for Fox, told reporters that Terminator will need to perform, Dollhouse is working well, Fringe has a good shot at a second season and Virtuality needs retooling.
Reilly made his comments in a group interview with reporters following a formal presentation Tuesday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Universal City, Calif.
Fox currently has the most genre programming of any TV network with Fringe, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the upcoming Dollhouse and the developing Virtuality. Fox is also notorious for bailing on beloved shows such as Firefly, while running other series such as The X-Files into the ground.
Following, we run down Reilly's revelations.
•Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which is struggling in the ratings in its second season, gets the benefit of the doubt to earn a third season as it moves to a new timeslot, Fridays at 8 p.m., starting Feb. 13. "We'll see where we are in the spring," Reilly said. "If it does a job on Friday night, that would really be very, very helpful. We'd love to have those scripted originals on Friday night, doing a sci-fi little throwback to X-Files."
•Dollhouse, Joss Whedon's new show, has undergone reshoots and rewrites, but Reilly now says the show is where he wants it to be creatively. "Joss has done his thing," he said. "I want him to just do his show. We had a couple of false starts, and then, frankly, we just left him alone."
Early buzz from critics has been lukewarm at best, but Reilly puts it in the eyes of viewers. "You guys should judge for yourself," he said. "Joss is a creative guy, and he does what he believes in. Hopefully you guys believe in it, too." Dollhouse debuts Feb. 13, following Terminator.
•Fringe, one of the few hits of the fall, has not yet been picked up for a second season, but fans should not worry. "I would anticipate it would be," Reilly said. The show has generated good if not stellar ratings but has a loyal cult following. Fringe returns with new episodes on Jan. 20 and will air Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
•The Friday Night Death Slot. Reilly acknowledges that Terminator and Dollhouse have a curse to break on Friday nights, the slot that killed shows such as Firefly and Freakylinks. "Well, that's been the case for a lot of shows, but there've also been a lot of shows that were kind of buried there for a reason," Reilly said. "I think these are two worthy shows, so we'll see what happens."
•Virtuality is a two-hour pilot for a proposed new sci-fi series that Peter Berg directed and Battlestar Galactica's Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor wrote and produced, which Fox is going to retool before making a series commitment. The pilot centers on the crew of an interstellar ship who immerse themselves in virtual worlds as a way to pass the time, until a flaw emerges in the system.
"It could air as is, and there's a certain segment of the audience that would flip over it, but it is, I think, right now a little bit too dense," Reilly said. "They shot a two-hour pilot, and I think the storytelling probably would have been served as a one-hour, so they're going in, and they're recutting, and we're going to look at it. It's pretty cool."