FX x FX = Twice as good? Or half?
When it comes to original programming, FX is one of the most consistent, entertaining channels in all of television. But will two FX channels be better than one?
According to several published reports (like this one in Broadcasting & Cable), Fox Networks is on the verge of changing its Fox Soccer channel into an FX spin-off network, tentatively titled FXX, with a focus on both comedy and a slightly younger audience to differentiate itself from FX.
A Fox statement on the subject says, "We are constantly evaluating our programming offerings and this is just one notion we have considered over the past year or so," but sources close to the situation called the reports fairly accurate so far.
The idea would be a split along the lines of how Turner has differentiated TNT (drama) and TBS (comedy). "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" was specifically cited as a series that would relocate to the new channel; its seasons tend to begin in September, which is what B&C said is the target date for launching FXX (or FX2, or whatever it's ultimately called).
Where that leaves a show like "Louie" — which is as much comedy and drama, and is told from the point of view of a depressed man in his mid-40s — is unclear, but for the most part it's easy to see which shows would go where. We can all mock the back-90 episode order that FX gave to Charlie Sheen's "Anger Management," but that show would provide a lot of inventory for a new channel focusing more on comedy.
For a long time in the post-"Shield" era, FX found comedy a tough nut to crack. Now the channel has a robust enough lineup — including "Sunny," "Louie" (which will be taking 2013 off, anyway, providing plenty of opportunity to figure out where it belongs), "The League," "Archer," the new "Legit" (which I reviewed yesterday), "Anger Management" and "Wilfred," and it would be easy to move one or both of the channel's new late-night talk shows ("BrandX with Russell Brand" and "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell") to a new channel.
Of course, doing so would leave FX with only one or two original series at a time, with a drama on Tuesdays and sometimes on Wednesdays. On the plus side, that could lead to even more series being greenlit to pick up the slack on both ends, and while not every FX series works, their shows are usually interesting enough that I'd welcome the prospect of twice as many.
Maybe it'll be too much of a good thing, but first all the paperwork has to be done before we can worry about that.