Unless you live under the proverbial rock when it comes to pop-culture, you have undoubtedly heard about the feud between NBC, Conan O’Brien, and Jay Leno, so I will not rehash that entire debate here. Rumors have been flying recently about where Conan will go from here and the most popular rumor seems to be that he will have a new late night show on the Fox Network. This has been met with relatively good cheer by Conan fans. I, however, did not receive this news well. I know of Fox’s track record, a track record that is as clean as NBC’s, that is to say, it sucks. I’ll show you using three television shows why I am worried about Conan’s future if he decides to join the Fox network.

Joss Whedon created a television show that aired on the Fox network in 2002. Whedon was known for his hit television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it’s spin-off, Angel. Firefly wasn’t a hit on television by any means, but that wasn’t it’s fault. Firefly was a sci-fi television series that took place in a world that was a mash up of outer space odyssey’s and tales from the wild west. It centered on a crew of misfits who make a living doing heists around the galaxy. It was witty, funny, had great special effects, and had some of the best characters and writing I’ve ever seen in a television show. Fox picked it up for one season and ran only a few of the episodes it ordered. So why did Firefly fail if it was so great? Because Fox placed it at the worst possible time slot for a television show: Friday night at 8 P.M. Fox also aired the episodes out of the order they were originally intended to be viewed leading to confusion about the overarching plot.

Dollhouse is yet another Joss Whedon led project. It made its on-air debut in 2009 and lasted until this coming Friday, a whopping 2 seasons. Dollhouse was complex, the characters were interesting, the plot took awhile to develop but was phenomenal once it got going. Again, another great series that failed on Fox. Why? Fox again assigned it to the death slot: Friday night at 8 P.M. Once Fox threatened to cancel the show after just one season, fans of the show responded in an uproar. In an amazing show of loyalty to Dollhouse, fans called in to Fox to demand that it be renewed. So many fans did this, in fact, that Fox’s phone lines actually crashed. Yes, one of the largest television corporations in America was so overwhelmed by fan support for Dollhouse that their phone lines crashed. So after looking at DVR rating and Hulu views, they renewed Dollhouse for a second season. The future seemed bright. Then Fox promptly cancelled Dollhouse about 3 episodes in to season two. Why? Not enough viewers. Despite the fact that fans overwhelmed them, Fox refused to move Dollhouse to a time slot where it would gain more viewers and potentially survive. Well done Fox.

Arrested Development
Finally, we come to a comedy, Arrested Development. This was a sitcom revolving around a family who lost all their wealth due to fraud. Hilarious, witty, smart, well-written. Fox repeatedly moved around the show to different time slots trying to get better ratings. This is the perfect way to kill a television show. I know, this sounds like a contradiction when I just said Fox should have moved Dollhouse to a new night and time to get better ratings and keep the show alive. But let me explain. To move Dollhouse once to a new night and time could be publicized enough that fans would see the time change and switch. I called for a single time change. Arrested Development went through multiple night and time changes. It’s nearly impossible for fans to keep up with when a show will come on when it is constantly moved around. I also think that Arrested Development was far too fast paced and smart to be enjoyed by a Fox audience.

Which brings me to my concerns with Conan being on Fox. Let’s face it, Fox’s biggest shows aren’t exactly smart. The most popular shows on Fox are 24, American Idol, and Family Guy. None of those require you to think. You sit down, turn off your brain, and veg out for the entirety of the show. Arrested Development, Dollhouse, and Firefly required you to use your brain. Conan tells jokes that are witty, jokes that aren’t about farts and fat guys (see Family Guy). You don’t just sit down to watch Conan and veg, you have to think to get his jokes. I honestly don’t think that Fox is a good home for a new Conan O’Brien show. I’m worried that if he goes to Fox we’ll be fighting this same battle again in the future.

So for all of these reasons, I sincerely hope that Conan finds another late night slot where he can do his brilliant comedy. I just don’t think that Fox is that place.