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Heading into the 2014-15 season, Fox’s Glee finds itself in unfamiliar territory: on the bench.
The final season of the musical dramedy from showrunners Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk was left off the network’s schedule, which was released early Monday with a number of new scheduling moves and a deep bench for 2015 — including Glee.
As the network shifts to a year-round programming schedule, Fox Broadcasting Co. entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly was asked during a conference call with reporters Monday if a midseason slot means that the final season’s episode count will be trimmed to 13.
“The order currently is for 22, but we’re actually going to sit down with Ryan and really talk about how we’re going to end it and figure that out,” Reilly told reporters. “The advantage of having it on later in the season is that we don’t have to feel the pressure of delivering. We can do them in a row. We’re going to sit down and talk about exactly the best way to end the show and how many [episodes] that is.”
The decision to hold Glee for a likely midseason bow comes after the network trimmed its current fifth season from 22 to 20 episodes following production delays at the start of the season after the death of star Cory Monteith. Sources told THR that Fox was mulling tacking the final two episodes onto season five, bringing the total to 24 after the show’s two-season pickup a year ago. (The two-season renewal was for 44 episodes.)
Reilly explained that the two-season renewal was “a business negotiation” and noted that benching the show until midseason will allow producers more time to produce the demanding series as well as allow the network to air all the episodes in a row, sans repeats.
“We sat down creatively and heard where it was going, and we thought that there was a creative, compelling reason to do it that way,” he said. “Ryan has a really good beat on where the show is going to be. It will be its last season for sure. When it comes back in the second half of the season, they will also air all of their episodes in a row.”
During the call, Reilly repeatedly expressed that the standard episode count for 22-episode seasons is no longer the norm in the era of reduced repeats. He stressed that it’s especially challenging for freshman shows to complete the task and used this season’s early hit Sleepy Hollow as an example. That show will return for 18 episodes, and the order for rookie Batman prequel Gotham is for 16 rather than the standard freshman 13 — which also represented an early show of support in the procedural from The Mentalist‘s Bruno Heller.
For its part, Glee has been showing its age. The musical has repeatedly hit series lows this season and is down considerably from its early heyday.
The musical will end its fifth season Tuesday with a big reveal that Murphy says will set up the final season. The final run will focus on the aftermath of the events in this week’s episode that finds Rachel (Lea Michele) mulling a TV career over Broadway.
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