Friday, May 18, 2007

Network Upfronts V: CW

So, here we are, last and probably least, the CW.

The product of a shotgun wedding between the defunct WB and UPN networks, the CW managed to do even less ratings than either.

It's not as if the cupboard at the CW was completely bare coming in. I'm a big fan of "Veronica Mars," "Smallville" and "Supernatural," and shows like "Gilmore Girls" and "7th Heaven" had their own followings.

But, for whatever reason, the network just hasn't caught on, and I don't think there's much in the upcoming fall season that's going to change that.

As I posted yesterday, the CW ended "Veronica Mars," and it's unlikely the proposed spinoff of having Veronica become an FBI agent with a new supporting cast is going to happen. The network did say it wanted to do projects with both star Kristen Bell and series creator Rob Thomas, but it likely will not be anything involving our plucky teen detective.

But for me, Thursday's upfronts were a time to celebrate. "Supernatural," another CW with a cult following that was on the bubble, was officially renewed. Since I had already written off "VM," and since I think "Supernatural" is a more consistently entertaining show anyway, it was actually a pretty good day.

As for the new stuff, decide for yourself:

-"Aliens in America" (Mondays, 8:30 p.m.) is about a teenager who gets a Pakistani Muslim exchange student as his new best friend. It promises to explore issues of tolerance while presumably making us laugh.

-"Reaper" (Tuesdays, 9 p.m.) sounds like it would have been perfectly paired with "Supernatural." It's about a young man who finds out his parents sold his soul to the Devil and he must now serve as Satan's bounty hunter, capturing escaping demons.

-"Gossip Girl" (Wednesdays, 9 p.m.) is supposed to be the next guilty pleasure, in the vein of "The O.C." Based on the series of popular teen books, it focuses on the kids at an upscale Manhattan prep school.

-"CW Now" (Sundays, 7 p.m.) is an "Entertainment Tonight"-styled show that focuses on the youth market. Doesn't everything these days?

-"Online Nation" (Sundays, 7:30 p.m.) may be the CW's most innovative idea. It culls the best of homemade videos and serves as a kind of weekly YouTube.

-"Life is Wild" (Sundays, 9 p.m.) is based on a BBC series about a family that moves to South Africa. The series is shot entirely on location.

-So far, the CW has made its bread-and-butter some really awful reality series. In addition to the return of "Pussycat Dolls" in midseason, the network is also offering "Farmer Wants a Wife," which sounds pretty self-explanatory, and "The Mother of All Pageants," in which mother-daughter teams compete in a pageant.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: This one is almost worthy of its own blog posting. ABC is trying to find the next craze that will match Texas Hold 'Em. Unfortunately, all the network suits could come up with is "National Bingo Night," (ABC, 9 p.m.), quite possibly one of the dumbest ideas in recent memory. Of course, these were the same suits that decided to yank "Lost" for two months in favor of "Daybreak."

Supposedly, "Bingo" will have a few tweaks and a more interactive element so that someone who is not in the studio audience might actually watch. Why don't the networks get it? Poker has certain elements, certain strategies, that makes it watchable at home; in bingo, all you're waiting for the little ball to roll out and say "B-12" and for someone to show bingo.

CBS continues to celebrate veteran TV personalities by honoring Walter Cronkite at 8 p.m., followed by a Dr. Phil special and the season finale of "Numb3rs" at 10 p.m.

"Law & Order" (NBC, 10 p.m.) also wraps up tonight.

On Saturday, "Robin Hood" (BBC America, 9 p.m.) begins a two-part season finale. Also, you can catch up on one of TV's best new and talked-about shows with a marathon of "Heroes" on the Sci-Fi Channel beginning Saturday morning. It will give you enough time to catch up before Monday's season finale.

On Sunday, I'm actually looking forward to the adventures of Jack Bauer. No, not the "24" season finale, but rather Kiefer Sutherland's guest star role on the 400th episode of "The Simpsons" (Fox, Sun., 8 p.m.)


zodin2008 said...

I agree, yeah for "Supernatural" being around it does sound like the new show "Reaper" is natural fit for it, thus making "Reaper" a highly vulnerable show because it doesn't have a natural time slot partner.

But if "Reaper" does find any type of audience and/or is actually any good, it might be the companion show that replaces "Smallville", likely heading into its last season ever.

Phillip Ramati said...

That assumes Reaper can last a season on the CW, no mean trick for any drama.