Fox has long sought an answer to this riddle -- how to air "American Idol" all season without airing "American Idol" all season? Too much "Idol" could kill the show, but the current 16 (or thereabouts) week season doesn't do all that much for the rest of the year. And so, this fall, the riddle -- maybe -- gets an answer, when "The X Factor" will pretty much consume Wednesdays and Thursdays, much as "Idol" is now doing, the network said yesterday.
"Factor" was expected to get a splash this fall, but yesterday's news was something of a cannonball into the deep end of the pool. "Factor" will get a 90-minute performance edition Wednesdays followed by 60 more minutes of filler, er, results the next night. The show -- which will be forced to dodge and weave around Fox's baseball championship telecasts -- then wraps in January; "Idol," the network added, will then bow Jan. 22, or possibly around the time NBC's "The Voice" gets back on schedule, too.
For midseason, Fox has ordered "Alcatraz," about an inmate who died decades earlier yet is somehow still alive; "Bones" spinoff "The Finder," based on the Richard Keener book series; a Kiefer Sutherland drama, "Touch," about a boy with unusual powers; and a "Napoleon Dynamite" series.
Here's the new lineup:
MONDAY "Terra Nova" (8 p.m.), the much-anticipated, much-delayed Steven Spielberg series, a "Lost in Space" meets "Avatar" big-budget production about a family that travels back to the Jurassic Era in an effort to save humanity; "House" (9).
WEDNESDAY "The X Factor" (8), reality-music competition judged by Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, L.A. Reid and Cheryl Cole; "I Hate My Teenage Daughter" (9:30), with Jaime Pressly, about single moms raising teens.
THURSDAY "X Factor" results (8); "Bones" (9).
SATURDAY "Cops" (8); repeats, and four two-hour specials of "America's Most Wanted," which will end its run as a weekly series next fall.
SUNDAY "The OT" (7); "The Cleveland Show" (7:30); "The Simpsons" (8); "Allen Gregory" (8:30), Jonah Hill-voiced animated show about a 7-year-old kid more like an adult; "Family Guy" (9); "American Dad" (9:30).