Thursday, May 15, 2008

The CW’s Fall 2008

I'm late with the CW's Upfront announcement primarily because I thought they were announcing on Wednesday afternoon rather than Tuesday afternoon, and then I had another commitment on Wednesday morning. The biggest announcement from The CW is that the network won't be programming Sunday night after their frankly disastrous efforts last season. Instead they are partnering with a company called Media Rights Capital a leading independent producer which will provide all the programs for Sunday night. MRC has not announced what shows they will be presenting yet.

Cancelled: Aliens in America, Life Is Wild, Girlfriends. Crowned, Pussycat Dolls Presents: The Search for the Next Doll, Beauty and the Geek (although there is a suggestion that in the case of Beauty and the Geek the network is giving it time to rest).

Renewed: America's Next Top Model, Smallville, Supernatural.

Moved: Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, Everybody Hates Chris, The Game.

New: 90210, Surviving the Filthy Rich, Stylista

Also, Reaper will return for thirteen episodes during the midseason, currently scheduled to replace Smallville.

Complete Schedule (all times Eastern):

8:00-9:00 p.m. Gossip Girl
9:00-10:00 p.m. One Tree Hill

8:00-9:00 p.m. 90210

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

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

8:00-8:30 p.m. Everybody Hates Chris
8:30-9:00 p.m. The Game
9:00-10:00 p.m. America's Next Top Model (encore presentation)

90210 is sort of a "next generation" version of the legendary FOX series Beverly Hills 90210 right down to a number of the cast members. When Annie Mills (Shenae Grimes, Degrassi: The Next Generation) and her adopted brother Dixon (Tristan Wilds, The Wire) move with their family to Beverly Hills they find adjusting to their new situation. Things are complicated by the fact that the new principal at West Beverly Hills High is their father, who moved the family back to Beverly Hills to care for his mother, a former TV star who is described as "a charter member of the Betty Ford Clinic" (Jessica Walter, Arrested Development). Of course most of the conflict will come with dealing with the students and staff at their new school, one of whom is Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth reprising her original role from Beverly Hills 90210).

In Surviving The Filthy Rich, JoAnna Garcia (Reba and more recently Welcome To The Captain) plays Yale educated Megan Smith who, after losing her job at a tabloid suddenly finds herself hired as the private tutor for the two daughters of cosmetics mogul Lucy Limoges. The daughters, Rose (Lucy Kate Hale, Bionic Woman) and Sage (Ashley Newbrough) aren't exactly thrilled to have a tutor, but Megan is determined to carry on and not just because her new lifestyle includes a private suite, gorgeous convertible, and live in chef. Of course, there is also a romantic tangle to deal with. Megan catches the eye Will, who lives on the estate next door, and just happens to be dating Megan's estranged sister Lilly, while Megan's best friend Charlie (Michael Cassidy, Smallville, The O.C.) is secretly in love with her. Based on the book How To Teach Filthy Rich Girls by Zoey Dean, and produced by Rina Mimoun (Gilmore Girls, Everwood), Bob Levy (Gossip Girl) and Leslie Morgenstein (Gossip Girl).

Stylista is a reality show in which eleven contestants vie for an editorial job at Elle magazine by working as assistants to the magazine's demanding but well respected Fashion News Director, Anne Slowey. Each week the contestants will carry out assistant tasks and a fashion editorial assignment before Slowey and Elle's Creative Director, Joe Zee, decide on who will be fired that week.

Of course the biggest news in this Upfront is that they've made the Media Rights Capital announcement, which had been discussed a bit beforehand official. It does make for a very interesting partnership, although the big question is what we'll see coming out of the partnership. The based on their IMDB page the company seems to have limited experience both working in TV and in producing their own material. It will be interesting to see what they'll come up with (they haven't announced any of their shows yet). I'd say they couldn't do worse than last season's CW Sunday line-up but that might just be seen as a challenge to the TV gods.

The other big news story is that MRC chose not to include Moonlight as part of their package of shows for The CW. And yet there are still persistent rumours that the show might still show up on the CW at the mid-season. There are a lot of reasons why this might make sense – the show is produced by Warner Brothers, one of the partners in the CW (and from some things I've seen reported an increasingly unhappy partner), and the show's audience when it was on CBS would dwarf that of even the most popular CW series. In fact if even half the Moonlight audience from CBS came over to the CW to watch it, it would still be one of the most popular CW shows.

Turning to the CW's actual line-up it looks solid – for them – if rather safe. The decision to move their two remaining sitcoms to Friday night is a reasonable one when you consider that The WB had considerable success with their Friday night comedy line-up, anchored by Reba (I know people say they hated that show but the fact remains that it was the highest rated comedy and the second highest rated show on The WB during the period when it aired). I am less than happy with what I consider to be a wrongheaded in airing a repeat – sorry "an encore presentation" – of America's Next Top Model rather than doing one or two more comedies (one if they had decided to save Aliens In America). I think a full Friday comedy block might have been a lucrative choice opposite reality shows on ABC, and game shows on NBC and FOX. Then again, what do I know.

As to the new shows, the less said about Stylista the better. It's The Apprentice in the fashion industry with a second rate Donald Trump. The only person who has had the personality to carry off a show like that successfully has been Gordon Ramsay with Hell's Kitchen and let's face it, we watch that show as much to see Ramsay explode at the wannabes as for the format. 90210 seems to me to be a fairly safe and pedestrian effort at reviving a classic series. Hardly original but done right it should be a solid performer by CW standards. Actually, the show that vaguely intrigues me is Surviving The Filthy Rich. This is mainly because of the presence of Joanna Garcia who was about the third funniest person on Reba (behind Steve Howey and Melissa Peterman) and the only reason I could come up with to watch Welcome To The Captain. I can certainly see this working more as a light hearted "dramedy" along the lines of a show like The Gilmore Girls. I'm just wondering how well it matches with 90210 – I mean besides the wealthy teenage angst thing.

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