Saturday, May 19, 2012

The CW’s 2012-13 Season

the_cwOf the broadcast networks doing original English Language programming the one making the most changes is The CW. With the planned end of Gossip Girl in January the “weblet” will have a new show on four out of the five nights that they program. Five of the network’s six returning shows will have a new day or time – only The Vampire Diaries won’t be relocated. For most networks this would be a massive disruption; for The CW it is pretty close to business as usual.

Cancelled: H8R, Ringer, The Secret Circle, One Tree Hill, Remodeled, The L.A. Complex

Moved: 90210 , Gossip Girl, Hart Of Dixie, Supernatural, America’s Next Top Model, Nikita

Renewed: The Vampire Diaries

New: Emily Owens M.D., Arrow, Beauty And The Beast

Held Until Mid-Season: The Carrie Diaries, Cult

Complete Schedule (all times are Eastern; new shows in capitals)

8:00-9:00 p.m.: 90210 (New Day)
9:00-10:00 p.m.: Gossip Girl (New Time; series will end in January and be replaced by THE CARRIE DIARIES)

8:00-9:00 p.m.: Hart Of Dixie (New Day)
9:00-10:00 p.m.: EMILY OWENS M.D.

8:00-9:00 p.m.: ARROW
9:00-10:00 p.m.: Supernatural (New Day)

8:00-9:00 p.m.: Vampire Diaries
9:00-10:00 p.m.: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

8:00-9:00 p.m.: America’s Next Top Model (New Day)
9:00-10:00 p.m.: Nikita (New Time)

Mamie Gummer plays the title character in Emily Owens M.D. Emily Owens thinks that she’s left behind the cliquishness of high schools. She’s finished medical school and is now a first year intern at Denver Memorial Hospital, where she’ll have the chance to work with world-class cardiologist Dr. Gina Beckett (Necar Zadegan). It’s also the place where her high school crush, Will Rider (Justin Hartley) is an intern. But as fellow intern Tyra Granger (Kelly McCreary) warns her, a hospital is like high school all over again: the jocks are in orthopedics, the mean girls in plastics, and the rebels in the ER. Emily has her own problems; her high school nemesis the gorgeous Cassandra Koppelson (Aja Naomi King) is also interning at Denver Memorial and their rivals again, not just as surgical interns but for Will’s affections. Emily now finds herself having to deal not just with life and death medical decisions but also the social politics of the hospital which are so like high school, but with the help of Tyra and “nerdy-but-cute resident” Micah (Michael Rady) she might be able to grow into a great doctor.

Arrow is based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, who was also a major supporting character on Smallville. But this version of the character is not the same one as on Smallville, with different supporting characters and background story. (If you actually follow the comic books this is not entirely out of keeping with the “New 52” reboot – or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.) Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) was missing and presumed dead for five years after a violent shipwreck. Then he was found on a deserted island. His devoted mother Moira (Suzanna Thompson), beloved sister Thea (Willa Holland) and best friend Tommy (Colin Donnell) all seem to recognize that his five year ordeal has changed him. He’s determined to make amends for his actions as a boy; in particular he’s determined to reconnect with his former girlfriend Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). But the changes in Ollie’s life go beyond reconnecting with family and friends. By day he behaves like the “old” Oliver Queen, a carefree, careless philanderer accompanied by his loyal chauffeur and bodyguard John Diggle (David Ramsey). By night he creates the persona of “Arrow,” a vigilante determined to right the wrongs done by his family, fight the ills of society and restore his city to its faded glory. This brings Arrow into conflict with Detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), Laurel’s father, who is determined to stop the vigilante operating in his city.

Beauty And The Beast is a remake of the late 1980s cult classic. Catherine Chandler (Kristin Kreuk) is a smart, no-nonsense homicide detective. with a past. Years ago she witnessed the murder of her mother by two gunmen who would have killed her if they weren’t stopped by someone or…something. In the years that followed she has become a strong, confident, capable police officer. Working a case with her equally capable partner Tess (Nina Lisandrello) she discovers a clue that leads her to Vincent Keller (Jay Ryan), a handsome doctor who was supposedly killed in Afghanistan in 2002. In the course of the investigation Catherine discovers that Vincent is still alive and is the one who saved her life all those years ago. Mysterious reasons have forced him to live outside traditional society. Vincent has been guarding a terrible secret for ten years; when enraged he becomes a terrifying beast, unable to control his superhuman strength and heightened senses. Catherine agrees to hide his secret in return for Vincent’s insights on her mother’s murder. Thus begins a complicated relationship between two people who are intensely drawn to each other but at the same time realize that their connection could be dangerous to both of them.

AnnaSophia Robb plays a young Carrie Bradshaw in The Carrie Diaries, a prequel to Sex And The City. The year is 1984 and it isn’t the best of times for 16 year-old Carrie. Her mother had just died, here younger sister Dorritt (Stephania Owen) is more rebellious than ever, and her father Tom (Matt Letscher) is overwhelmed by suddenly having to deal with two teenaged girls on his own. Her friends – sweet geeky Mouse (Ellen Wong), sarcastic, self-assured Maggie (Katie Findlay), and sensitive Walt (Brendon Dooling) – make her life bearable, and the arrival of transfer student Sebastian (Austin Butler) brings some excitement to her world, but it’s not enough. So when Tom offers her the opportunity to intern at a Manhattan law firm she jumps at the chance. The grit and glamour of the city excite her, and when she meets Larissa (Freema Agyeman), the style editor of Interview Magazine she’s inspired by the club culture and unique individuals who make up Larissa’s world. Carrie has encountered the great love of her life – Manhattan.

The disappearance of investigative journalist Jeff Sefton’s (Matt Davis) brother Nate is the starting point for mid-season series Cult. Nate had had a string of obsessions, the most recent of which was the assertion that the popular TV show “Cult” was out to hurt him. It was something Jeff could laugh off until Nate disappeared. His investigations lead him to Skye (Jessica Lucas) a research assistant at the show who has become suspicious of “dark happenings” surrounding the show. The fictional show “Cult” focuses on the cat-and-mouse game between charismatic cult leader Billy Grimm (Robert Knepper) and LAPD detective Kelley Collins (Alona Tal). It has developed an obsessed fan base, some of whom take their fixation to deadly extremes. As Jeff and Skye dig deeper into the show’s most obsessed fans they discover that the gruesome plot twists of the show are much more than fantasy for some very unfortunate people.

There’s something vaguely sad about The CW. This is a network that occasionally has some very good concepts – I love the idea behind Cult for example – but they’ve never seemed to get that one show that breaks though into mainstream consciousness and success that’s even a fraction of what one of the “Big Four” have achieved. Between moves and new shows they’ve managed to revamp their line-up for the season but while it’s not quite “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic,” none of the changes will really make the network break through into some sort of mainstream success.

This year’s new offerings pander to The CW’s two big constituencies: Teen and Early 20s women and comic book geek/genre fans. Look at the network’s history and you’ll see what I’m talking about. For the female fans you have The Carrie Diaries about a 16 year-old falling in love with New York and laying the foundation of what Carrie Bradshaw will be by the time Sex And The City starts (but probably not smoking); Emily Owens M.D., the show that informs us that the “real world” (in this case a major hospital) is just like the social side of high school; and the remake of Beauty & The Beast. (Confession time: when the show originally aired with Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman I really enjoyed it, mostly because of Linda Hamilton but not entirely. Over the years since the show left the air it has come to bother me that the male romantic lead, Vincent, was arguably a serial killer, even though most of the killings were at least semi-justified.) For the comic book geeks/genre fans, joining Supernatural and (arguably) Nikita are the DC Comics based series Arrow and the mid-season series Cult. It’s an odd and interesting mix, but there’s nothing that will gain the “weblet” mainstream attention.

The CW isn’t going to be the top network this year, and probably not any time soon. Their programming strategy is unlikely to produce a hit show, unless the definition of a hit is one set by the network itself. The CW has set its schedule in an aggressive manner, relocating shows in a manner that groups shows by some common thread and will presumably attract a common audience. It’s an idea that a larger more established network probably wouldn’t attempt, at least not so openly. I rather like what they’ve done with their schedule. The problem is that no matter how good the schedule is I doubt that any CW show this season will rise higher than fourth in the nightly ratings, no matter how good it is.

1 comment:

Todd Mason said...

I might need to supplement your fine work here with a similar post about public broadcasting, at least southerly...