FOX cancels Dads, Enlisted, Surviving Jack; passes on three sitcom pilots

Surviving Jack airs its first and only season finale tonight on FOX.

Enlisted has four more episodes yet to air — perhaps to burn off sometime this summer?

And Dads, well, sometimes it seemed only Kevin Reilly and his affinity for staying in the Seth MacFarlane business kept Dads on the air for as long as it was.

FOX pulled the plug on all three rookie sitcoms officially last night.

For Surviving Jack, it’s sad news because Christopher Meloni hadn’t been allowed to be this funny onscreen since Wet Hot American Summer, and it was nice to see him and Rachael Harris play parents trying to rule a house with love and iron fists both. If you wondered how Nick Offerman’s “Ron Swanson” would react to having a wife and teen-aged children in the early 1990s, then Meloni’s “Jack Dunleavy” was your guy.  Surviving Jack also proved to be a solid second effort from Justin Halpern, based on his book, “I Suck at Girls.” This time around, you actually wanted to hear the Sh*t My Dad Says. Sorry, Shatner. From an initial 13-episode order a year ago, it was cut to eight for budget, with only the pilot and six other half-hours airing by tonight. Halpern wrote a touching note about his show’s cancellation. You should read it!

Enlisted seemed like such a promising pilot at last May’s Upfronts, and yet, FOX and Kevin Reilly never gave it a chance, burying it deep in Friday nights during midseason — and neglecting to promote it when initial numbers showed viewers and critics alike liked it and watched it on delayed DVR/VOD. It had heart. It had laughs. It could have been Stripes for a new generation. In fact, it already was. You just never got the chance to realize it. Shame on Reilly for not giving them that chance. Support the troops!  Co-showrunner Michael Royce shared some of his title cards with The Comic’s Comic. So we still have that! Nine of its 13 episodes have aired. Royce and Kevin Biegel also will present the best and last of Enlisted in June at the Austin Television Festival. Biegel wrote on Twitter last night: “Well guys, we fought as hard as we could – all of us – but #Enlisted isn’t going forward at Fox. Thank you from all of us for your/Amazing display of support, love and for giving us a chance. This has been the most satisfying thing I’ve ever worked on, and a large part/of that – hell, I’ll even say a crapton of it – was because of you. This show will continue to be shared for a long time. Good feeling. Better feeling? Show keeps going. But hey, I’ll take lesser feeling over greater feeling this feeling stuff is getting confusing. Anyhow…Thanks to you all. And just so you know, we had a shot right up to the end no matter what any place says. People fought for us- That’s cool Thanks @MikeRoyce especially for being a true partner and making the show what it was. Dad yelling at me bc im not helpin him put new ceiling on porch. I said “I gotta tell people we’re cancelled.” He said “Oh boo hoo.””

Those were single-cam.

Dads was multi-cam, a format Reilly supports. And it employed classic older character comedic talent such as Martin Mull and Peter Riegert. And turned them into doddering, older, racist fools. It was greenlit straight-to-series without a pilot, first with six episodes, then 13, then 22, then trimmed back to 18. Sometimes, cartoonish, buffoonish boorish behavior can only succeed as an actual cartoon. Note to MacFarlane and his writing/producing team responsible for this.

Preparing for next week’s Upfronts presentation, the network also let makers of three sitcom pilots that they wouldn’t be moving forward to series with FOX.

So you won’t be seeing Dead Boss — a single-cam starring Jane Krakowski as a woman wrongly convicted of killing her boss (the ghost of David Cross!?), and co-starring Amy Sedaris, Cedric Yarborough, Rachel Dratch, Ravi Patel and Justine Lupe. Nor will you get to make fun of or with Fatrick — a Zach Cregger single-cam vehicle in which we’re led to believe he was once a fat kid named Rick. That pilot co-starred Dante Hoagland, Lucy Rust, Marcia Cross and Ray Ford. And No Place Like Home couldn’t find a home at FOX, either — this Ricky Blitt creation was a multi-cam that would have shown us Jon Heder living with his mom (Jane Kaczmarek) and her new husband and stepchildren. Moving on…

That keeps two other sitcom pilots — Cabot College and Sober Companion – still in play as of Thursday morning.

FOX already ordered 16 episodes of new sitcom Mulaney, and newcomers Last Man on Earth and Weird Loners on the way, or so they say.

If you’re keeping score/track, the rest of FOX’s sitcom programming:

  • Raising Hope ended its run last month after four seasons.
  • American Dad also done at FOX, later this month. It has run 10 seasons, but will move to TBS and launch its 11th season there in July.

That leaves Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl and The Mindy Project from Tuesdays still intact — will they all stay on Tuesdays this fall, though?

And the Sunday “Animation Domination” lineup continues with Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy and The Simpsons.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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