3:15pm PT by Michael O'Connell
Fox Pulls Tuesday 'Utopia,' Moves 'MasterChef Junior'
Fox is done experimenting with its social experiment. After almost a month of airing twice weekly, the low-rated Utopia has lost its Tuesday time slot and will now air exclusively on Fridays.
The show had been airing twice weekly since its Sept. 7 premiere, but its noticeably soft ratings performance did not improve once the official 2014-15 TV season kicked off. In its place, staring Nov. 4, will be the second season of MasterChef Junior. The kid spinoff of Gordon Ramsay's summer culinary competition was previously set to return to Fridays — where it enjoyed strong ratings last fall.
Utopia's Tuesday exit is an immediate one. It was originally scheduled to air twice weekly for six weeks. Now the coming weeks before MasterChef Junior's return instead will see the 8 p.m. hour occupied by encores of animation and Fox's coverage of MLB's World Series. The latter will be a welcome break for the network. Utopia's middling ratings — the show has recouped some of the crowd in DVR — has not helped lead-out comedies New Girl and The Mindy Project. Both are pulling low live-plus-same-day numbers this season.
From The Voice creator John de Mol, Utopia was Fox's first big reality swing in a season without X Factor and a likely more-modest American Idol. Its soft first week, where it hit just a 0.9 rating in the key demo in its second outing, prompted calls for patience from newly minted Fox Television Group chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman in September.
"We're definitely going to exhibit patience," Walden told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. "What exactly that means, it's hard to tell. I'd say that as long as we're feeling creatively satisfied with the show, we're going to do everything in our power to give it an opportunity to thrive and grow."
The series, overseen by Fox reality chief Simon Andreae and showrunner Conrad Green, tried to build interest in the last week by introducing eliminations to the cast.
Well, Utopia's loss may be MasterChef Junior's gain. Tuesday is a much bigger night for TV, and it stands to find a potentially bigger audience.