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Fox Rolls Out Its New Fall Shows, Including One From Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling stars in the new Fox comedy <em>The Mindy Project</em>.
Beth Dubber
Mindy Kaling stars in the new Fox comedy The Mindy Project.

The difference between Fox, whose lineup we're looking at today, and NBC, whose lineup we looked at yesterday, is that Fox considers itself fundamentally healthy with challenges, while NBC knows that it really really really needs something to hit already. Fox's schedule doesn't have quite as many holes, so in the fall, they'll actually only have two new comedies and one new drama. More to come in midseason, but as long as much of the schedule is taken up by giant swaths of The X Factor, they're not bringing as much that's new.

The first new comedy is Ben & Kate, which will be paired with Raising Hope on Tuesday nights. It's about a brother and sister and the sister's absolutely adorable child, who is played by absolutely adorable child Maggie Jones, who was absolutely adorable in We Bought A Zoo. The official description says, "What happens when an exuberant, irresponsible dreamer who always says 'yes' moves in with his overly responsible little sister to help raise her five-year-old daughter?" I think we can all agree that the answer to this question is: "A sitcom."

Starring Dakota Johnson and Nat Faxon (Faxon co-wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay to The Descendants with Community's Jim Rash, if you're keeping track of that sort of thing), the show seems heavy on warm family moments, but possibly also on Raising Hope-ish weirdness, which could be good.

The other new comedy is Mindy Kaling's project (currently called The Mindy Project after briefly being disastrously called It's Messy) In it, Kaling plays a gynecologist who acts a lot like the best parts of Kelly Kapoor, meaning perhaps she shouldn't be a doctor? But whatever. As much as I like Kaling, I'm likely to have limited patience with the "should I pick the obviously awful guy or the obviously awesome guy?" story they seem to be playing with here, but we'll see how it goes.

The drama is called The Mob Doctor, and as you might imagine, it's about a mob doctor. Jordana Spiro (who you may know from My Boys) plays a surgeon who works for bad guys to pay off her brother's debt. I'm not sure why (perhaps it's because I am easily bored by mob stories), but I hate this premise a lot, and this is the one I'm struggling to remain open-minded about.

Coming at midseason will be a few more entries, including The Goodwin Games, a comedy from the creators of How I Met Your Mother, The Following, a drama starring Kevin Bacon, and The Choice, which is basically a celebrity version of The Dating Game. No, really.

In the meantime, Fox has to worry — at least a little — about downturns in viewership for Glee and American Idol, both of which used to be powerhouse shows, though the latter for much longer than the former. They're adding Britney Spears and Demi Lovato to The X Factor in the fall, they're moving Glee to Thursday ... there's a lot going on. This time next year, both Glee and Idol will probably be either recovering or foundering even more, and we'll know whether Fox has, with The Mindy Project and New Girl, managed to create the most self-consciously cutesy night of comedy you could dream up or a powerful one-two punch. Or perhaps both.

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Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.

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