Friday, May 18, 2007

The CW's Fall 2006

Finally (and I delayed this not because the CW was late in putting it out, but because I was thoroughly exhausted today) we have the CW’s line-up, and yes I know, no Veronica Mars. There’s slight hope for something though...but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Cancelled: Gilmore Girls, Reba, Runaway, Seventh Heaven, All Of Us, Veronica Mars.

Renewed: Everybody Hates Chris, America's Next Top Model, The Game, Smallville, Supernatural, WWE Smackdown, Girlfriends, Pussycat Dolls: The Search for the Next Doll.

Moved: Beauty & The Geek.

New: Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants, Aliens in America, Gossip Girl, Reaper, Life is Wild, Online Nation, CW Now, Farmer Wants Wife.

In addition One Tree Hill is being held until midseason to allow the producers to make a significant creative change – advancing the storyline by four years. Online blogs and diary postings will keep update fans on the “college years” of the show’s characters leading to the show’s eventual return. Also, while Veronica Mars is listed as cancelled, there were statements from the CW Entertainment president Dawn Ostroff of discussions with series creator Rob Thomas and series star Kristen Bell about doing “something else” but that it seemed unlikely. Michael Ausiello of TV Guide asked about Thomas about it and was told that “No one has talked to me about a new, non-Veronica project. All my writers have been offered jobs elsewhere, and I believe they will now all accept these jobs. Very, very, very sad day around the VM offices. I assume that anything Dawn would be talking about in the realm of a Rob-Kristen project would involve a new from-scratch pilot as they don't have me in a deal, and they'll lose Kristen in a couple of weeks." In other words it sounds as if the show is dead.

Complete Schedule (all times Eastern):

8:00-8:30 p.m. Everybody Hates Chris
8:30-9:00 p.m. ALIENS IN AMERICA
9:00-9:30 p.m. Girlfriends
9:30-10:00 p.m. The Game

8:00-9:00 p.m. Beauty & The Geek
9:00-10:00 p.m. REAPER

8:00-9:00 p.m. America's Next Top Model
9:00-10:00 p.m. GOSSIP GIRL

Thursday 8:00-9:00 p.m. Smallville
9:00-10:00 p.m. Supernatural

8:00-10:00 p.m. WWE Smackdown

7:00-7:30 p.m. CW NOW
7:30-8:00 p.m. ONLINE NATION
8:00-9:00 p.m. LIFE IS WILD
9:00-10:00 p.m. America's Next Top Model (Encore)

The CW’s one new Comedy is Aliens In America High school student Justin Tolchuck’s (Dan Bird) is a bit of an outsider at his school. When his mother Franny (Amy Pietz) signed her family up for an international exchange student program, she imagined an athletic Nordic teen who would bestow instant popularity on her son. What she got was a Pakistani Muslim named Raj Musharaff (Adhir Kalyan), who doesn’t exactly fit in to Medora Wisconsin. Still the boys form a strong if unlikely friendship. Also stars Patrick Breen and Lindsey Shaw.

The Reaper stars Bret Harrison as Sam, a guy who can’t understand why his mom (Allison Hossack) and dad (Andrew Airlie) went so easy on him while always pressuring his younger brother Keith (Kyle Switzer) to excel. At least not until the day he turns 21, when he meets his new boss – Satan (Ray Wise). Seems Kyle’s parents sold his soul before he was born and now it’s time to give the Devil his due. Kyle’s new job is to find evil souls who escape the Devil and return them to Hell. With the aid of some of his buddies (played by Tyler Labine, Rick Gonzalez, and Valarie Rae Miller) and a different vessel every week to hold the souls of the damned (starting with a Dirt Devil vacuum) Sam actually feels a sense of job satisfaction.

The mysterious blogger Gossip Girl knows everything that goes on amongst the privileged prep schools of the upper east side of Manhattan. So when Serena Van Der Woodsen (Blake Lively) returns from self-imposed exile in a boarding school, Gossip Girl knows. She also knows about the tension that has developed between Serena and her BFF Blair (Leighton Meester) and is determined to find out the source, whether it’s boyfriends, parents, or people on the outer edge of the clique of privileged teens.

CW Now is an Entertainment Tonight style program created to be a source for “everything that's hip, hot and happening right now in the world of young adults” – what the network modestly calls “The CW Generation.”

Online Nation is another response to the “CW Generation’s” habits – this time the posting of blogs and user generated materials. As the press release puts it, “This fun, irreverent weekly series features everything and anything that has captured the attention of the online world, from the most popular sites to the addictive viral videos being shared by millions, to insights from the digital tastemakers. Born of the internet and tailored specifically for this generation, this series also features an innovative interactive element as viewers will be able to see what others are saying and communicate with them live on the air. The CW is turning mouse potatoes into couch potatoes by putting all the greatest internet clips in one ready-to-use package.”

When Danny Clarke (Brett Cullen) decides to leave his comfortable New York veterinary practice to spend a year at the ramshackle Blue Antelope Lodge in South Africa, his blended family – second wife Jo (Judith Hoag) daughter Katie (Leah Pipes), son Chase (K'sun Ray), stepson Chase (Andrew St. John) and stepdaughter Mia (Mary Matilyn Mouser) – are appalled. But there’s more to Danny’s decision than just wanting to work with South Africa’s wildlife – Danny’s first wife grew up at the Blue Antelope Lodge and her reclusive father Art (David Butler) still lives there.

Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants is a reality-competition series focussing on mother-daughter teams preparing to participate in a beauty pageant. Each week the teams face challenges preparing them for the final pageant in which the mother-daughter team that wins will “receive a valuable prize package, including a $100,000 cash award, and, of course, a fabulous pair of tiaras.”

In Farmer Wants Wife, which is based on a British show of the same name, brings a hard working farmer who has everything except a little romance in his life together with ten city women who have had it (they think) with the hustle and bustle of city life – not to mention the bad dates. But is farm living the life for them?

Aliens In America seems emblematic of the youth oriented direction The CW is taking in its programming. It’s inevitable that the Tolchuks wouldn’t get a “Nordic teen” who would make Justin popular – that wouldn’t be funny. The question is whether the network will be brave enough to deal with the post-9/11 reaction to Muslims and people who look like they could be Muslims. I’m betting that they aren’t going to deal with the subject much, if at all.

The first reaction a lot of people seem to have had to Reaper is to remark about how much it resembles an older series, Brimstone, which aired on FOX. This is undoubtedly true – I never saw Brimstone and I picked up on the connection almost immediately – but since so many people loved the original, is that such a bad thing? Maybe it is since The CW seems to be playing it “light and youthful” on this one too.

Gossip Girl seems to be another one of those efforts to take something trendy and make it the basis for a series. At its heart a low order mystery – why are Serena and Blair on the outs – it seems like a series like Beverly Hills 90210 or a Dawson’s Creek where the mystery of Serena and Blair, not to mention “Gossip Girl’s” true identity is merely an excuse to inhabit the world of Manhattan’s privileged youth culture.

CW Now is the model for everything the CW wants to stand for - hip, hot and happening. I just wonder if they can pull it off. I doubt it.

Online Nation is a show that I’m rather intrigued by. Not that I’m the target demographic of the show or that interested in a lot of the things that this show is trying to examine. I’m just fascinated that the CW is willing to try the sort of thing that is more likely to be found on some obscure cable channel somewhere (think G4). Of course given the CW’s relative ratings position, they’re probably grasping at any straw they can get their hands on.

Life Is Wild is quite clearly The CW’s effort to put a sensitive family drama on the air in light of the ending of 7th Heaven. The obvious comparison though is to Everwood – a man moves his family to a remote area because of the death of his wife. Whether it can draw enough viewers to become the sort of hit (even in CW terms) is the big question.

I’ve never liked beauty pageants. Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants not only deals with beauty pageants but with beauty pageants that deal with kids which takes it even lower on my list of things to watch.

Framer Wants A Wife. Here’s an idea for a series: a farmer meets, falls in love with and marries a woman from the city who finds it difficult to adapt to life in the country. You could run it as a comedy or a drama or even a “dramedy.” Instead The CW is making it a reality show in the style of ABC’s The Bachelor. I won’t be watching.

No comments: