Fall schedule announcements: The CW just wants to watch its schedule burn

Fall schedule announcements: The CW just wants to watch its schedule burn

The CW has long been America’s network punching bag. Why, the network barely even deserves to be called a network, so low-rated is it, and mostly TV critics and reporters only pay attention to it because of its epic struggles and because it used to be The WB and UPN, and we’ve all got a certain degree of affection for those days. In recent years, however, the network has seemed increasingly programmed by bored teenagers won don’t even know what they want. The kids would put on some good shows, but then they’d ignore them in favor of glossier shows or air them on Fridays or not really realize what they had. Mostly, they just seemed to be looking for programs where everybody takes their shirts off. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, admittedly.

So it’s easy to think that The CW, by virtue of going last, is always going to be an afterthought. Most years, it is, and this year, especially, it seemed like it would be easy to ignore whatever the hell the network was doing, since it seemed to make its new series and returning show pickups at random (outside of The Vampire Diaries, the network’s one legitimate hit). Imagine our surprise, then, when the schedule the network announced was by far the most ambitious of any slate announced this week and surprisingly coherent to boot. Given the scraps the network was playing with, this is a surprising accomplishment, and while it doesn’t seem likely to make America aware the network exists, at least it will give our resident CW super-fan Carrie Raisler even more shows to cover at least one time (as she is contractually obligated to do).

To do that, however, the network moved every single show it had save The Vampire Diaries, and it ended up sticking America’s Next Top Model with Nikita on Fridays, so it has four days of themed nights, then a night that seems to consist only of leftovers, unless the network wants to start calling it “Tall Women Fridays” or something. We’d recommend a better name than that. Generally, moves that are this ambitious tend to leave viewers confused, so we don’t know that the potential for success here is all that high. But we really like the network for trying. It keeps things interesting.

The schedule is below. New shows are in bold. Night-by-night analysis follows afterward:

Mondays:
8 p.m.: 90210
9 p.m.: Gossip Girl

Mondays in January:
8 p.m.: 90210
9 p.m.: The Carrie Diaries

Tuesdays:
8 p.m.: Hart Of Dixie
9 p.m.: Emily Owens, M.D.

Wednesdays:
8 p.m.: Arrow
9 p.m.: Supernatural

Thursdays:
8 p.m.: The Vampire Diaries
9 p.m.: Beauty And The Beast

Fridays:
8 p.m.: America's Next Top Model
9 p.m.: Nikita

Not yet scheduled: Cult

For the last time this spring (sniff), let’s take this sucker night-by-night.

Mondays:

The CW begins its theme days with what it will probably call “teen soap Monday.” 90210 isn’t a huge hit—indeed, our own Steven Hyden may be the only person in America who watches it—but it has held its own (by CW standards) in a variety of tough timeslots, so it gets the vote of confidence with a full season order here. Gossip Girl, on the other hand, has plummeted in the ratings, compared to the days when it was on magazine covers and endlessly talked about despite miniscule ratings. Everybody involved—okay, just Blake Lively—wants to get on with wholly undeserved movie careers. (Seriously, Hollywood can’t give Leighton Meester something to do? She’d at least be a big step up over ol’ Dead-eyes Lively.) Thus, the show is wrapping up its run in the fall. It will be replaced in January with one of the network’s many new series based on existing properties, The Carrie Diaries, which is a prequel to Sex And The City with AnnaSophia Robb—best known for that one-armed surfer movie—playing Carrie Bradshaw. In many ways, this feels like a one-to-one swap with Gossip Girl, what with the teens, fashion, and New York City setting, but it’s one with a higher upside than yet another full season of the older show, and it’s also one that gives the network a fun period setting—the ‘80s!—to play with. That’s a nut the CW has been trying to crack for a while, so it will be interesting to see how whole hog it goes with putting Robb in weird outfits and/or giving her Flock of Seagulls hair.

Tuesdays:

The network switches up to… “medical dramedy Tuesday”? The renewal of Hart Of Dixie seemed a little odd based solely on ratings, but it seemed likely that the network wanted to be in business with Rachel Bilson and saw some potential in the show’s small-town setting. Now, it’s obvious that the network just wanted to pair it with its new medical drama, Emily Owens, M.D., which is competing with Mob Doctor for this season’s “it’s all right there in the title” award. Emily Owens stars Mamie Gummer as, presumably, Emily Owens, and it gives the network the curiously specific boast of having two medical dramedies on in a row.

Wednesdays:

Now we have “things we hope young men will watch Wednesday,” with DC Comics-based Arrow (that’s Green Arrow, in case you didn’t know), followed by longtime stalwart Supernatural. Supernatural has made the unusual move of going from an in-week slot—Thursdays—to the Friday death slot, then surviving two seasons there, then going back to an in-week slot. This is the sort of thing that rarely—if ever—happens. (Seriously, we can’t remember another occasion in the last decade or so.) Considering Supernatural’s renewal was in doubt a few months ago, this is a big vote of confidence in the show or, at least, a realization that it always did best when paired with former superhero show Smallville. (Also, Supernatural is the last remaining link to the old WB. Long may it reign.) As an added bonus, the network gets the show out of the genre clusterfuck that is Fridays at 9, where Grimm and Fringe also air.

Thursdays:

Things wrap up with “paranormal romance Thursday,” and we’re starting to think The CW should hire us to turn this all into one of those half-hour specials where the network hires some inoffensive standup comedian to introduce its schedule in the catchiest way possible. (We’re betting Paul F. Tompkins would love to do this.) Vampire Diaries is the closest thing the network has to a hit—both in the ratings and with critics—so of course it was going to stay put. That meant the network just had to find a better companion than Nikita or Secret Circle, both of which struggled following it. The choice this year is Beauty And The Beast, yet another show based on something you may have heard of, in this case, the ‘80s fantasy series that featured George R.R. Martin as one of its writers. Kristin Kreuk returns to the network born from the network that gave her her career, and we’ll see if she’s any more successful in that situation than Sarah Michelle Gellar was last year. (Carrie thanks you, CW, for canceling Ringer. Oh, does she thank you.)

Fridays:

Finally, there’s… “tall women Friday.” We’re still working on this one. Nikita doesn’t get very good ratings, but it has a dedicated cult, and a number of critics who insist it’s turned into one of the very best genre shows on TV. We’ll take their words for it. The network has moved longtime anchor America’s Next Top Model to the 9 p.m. slot, which seems ridiculous, until you realize just how horribly this spring’s edition of the program has done in the ratings. The CW has only one more cycle of the Tyra Banks power hour ordered, and it seems incredibly likely that will be the last, barring a weird surge on Fridays. Nikita was already airing on Fridays, just an hour earlier, so the network may hope that it gets a little ratings momentum from Model, or, at least, won’t lose what little audience it has if it just stays put.

Network press releases follow. Check back later in the day for trailers.

Fall dramas:

Arrow: After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific. When he returns home to Starling City, his devoted mother Moira, much-beloved sister Thea, and best friend Tommy welcome him home, but they sense Oliver has been changed by his ordeal on the island. While Oliver hides the truth about the man he’s become, he desperately wants to make amends for the actions he took as the boy he was. Most particularly, he seeks reconciliation with his former girlfriend, Laurel Lance. As Oliver reconnects with those closest to him, he secretly creates the persona of Arrow—a vigilante—to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society, and restore Starling City to its former glory. By day, Oliver plays the role of a wealthy, carefree and careless philanderer he used to be—flanked by his devoted chauffeur/bodyguard, John Diggle—while carefully concealing the secret identity he turns to under cover of darkness. However, Laurel’s father, Detective Quentin Lance, is determined to arrest the vigilante operating in his city. Meanwhile, Oliver’s own mother, Moira, knows much more about the deadly shipwreck than she has let on… and is more ruthless than he could ever imagine. The series stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Colin Donnell as Tommy, Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance, David Ramsey as John Diggle, Willa Holland as Thea Queen, with Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen, and Paul Blackthorne as Detective Quentin Lance. Based on characters appearing in comic books and graphic novels published by DC Comics, Arrow is from Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti (Green Lantern, Brothers & Sisters), Marc Guggenheim (FlashForward, Eli Stone), Andrew Kreisberg (Warehouse 13, The Vampire Diaries) and David Nutter (Smallville, Supernatural, Game Of Thrones). Melissa Kellner Berman (Eli Stone, Dirty Sexy Money) is co—executive producer. The pilot was directed by David Nutter from a teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg & Marc Guggenheim, story by Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim.

Beauty And The Beast: Detective Catherine Chandler is a smart, no—nonsense homicide detective. Several years earlier, Catherine witnessed the murder of her mother at the hands of two gunmen. Catherine would have been killed too, but someone—or something—saved her. No one has ever believed her, but she knows it wasn’t an animal that attacked the assassins… it was human. Years have passed, and Catherine is a strong, confident, capable police officer, working alongside her equally talented partner, Tess. While investigating a murder, Catherine discovers a clue that leads her to a handsome doctor named Vincent Keller, who was reportedly killed by enemy fire while serving in Afghanistan in 2002. Catherine learns that Vincent is actually still alive and that it was he who saved her many years before. For mysterious reasons that have forced him to live outside of traditional society, Vincent has been in hiding for the past 10 years to guard his secret—when he is enraged, he becomes a terrifying beast, unable to control his super-strength and heightened senses. Catherine agrees to protect his identity in return for any insight he may have into her mother’s murder. Thus begins a complex relationship between Catherine and Vincent, who are powerfully drawn to each other yet understand that their connection is extremely dangerous for both of them. The series stars Kristin Kreuk (Smallville, Chuck) as Catherine, Jay Ryan (Terra Nova) as Vincent, Max Brown (The Tudors, MI—5) as Evan, Nina Lisandrello (Nurse Jackie) as Tess, Nicole Gale Anderson (Make It Or Break It) as Heather, Austin Basis (Life Unexpected) as J.T., and Brian White (The Shield, The Cabin In The Woods) as Joe. Beauty And The Beast is from CBS Television Studios with executive producers Jennifer Levin (Without A Trace, Felicity), Sherri Cooper (Brothers And Sisters), Bill Haber (Rizzoli & Isles, Thurgood), Paul J. Witt (A Better Life) & Tony Thomas (A Better Life), Ron Koslow (Moonlight), and Gary Fleder (Life Unexpected).

Emily Owens, M.D.: At long last, Emily Owens feels like she is an actual grown—up. She can finally put her high school days as the geeky—girl—with—flop—sweats behind her; she’s graduated from medical school and is now a first—year intern at Denver Memorial Hospital, where she’ll have the chance to work with world—famous cardiologist Dr. Gina Beckett—and where, not—so—coincidentally, her med—school crush Will Rider is also an intern. So why does everyone keep warning her that the hospital is just like high school? Emily soon finds out the hard way—her high school nemesis, the gorgeous, popular Cassandra Kopelson, is also just starting out at Denver Memorial, and it seems like they’re rivals all over again—not only as surgical interns, but for Will’s attention. Fellow intern Tyra Granger warns Emily that the cliques at Denver Memorial are all too familiar: The jocks have become orthopedic surgeons, the mean girls are in plastics, the rebels are in the ER, and Tyra has her own awkward place as the principal’s kid—her father is the chief resident. Emily’s the new kid all over again, and it’s just as awkward as high school. Only this time around, Emily will have to balance the personal and emotional turmoil of social politics with the high-stakes world of life-and-death medical decisions. At least she has fellow intern Tyra and nerdy-but-cute resident Micah, to count on as friends. Emily is growing to realize that although she may be a geek, she may also grow to be a great doctor, flop sweats and all. The series stars Mamie Gummer as Emily, Justin Hartley as Will, Michael Rady as Micah, Aja Naomi King as Cassandra, Kelly McCreary as Tyra, and Necar Zadegan as Gina. Emily Owens, M.D. is from CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Television with executive producers Jennie Snyder Urman (90210, Lipstick Jungle), Dan Jinks (Pushing Daisies, Milk), and Bharat Nalluri (Tsunami). The pilot was directed by Bharat Nalluri.  

Midseason dramas:

The Carrie Diaries: It’s 1984, and life isn’t easy for 16-year-old Carrie Bradshaw. Since their mother passed away, Carrie’s younger sister Dorritt is more rebellious than ever, and their father Tom is overwhelmed with the responsibility of suddenly having to care for two teenage girls on his own. Carrie’s friends—sweet, geeky Mouse, sarcastic and self-assured Maggie and sensitive Walt—make life bearable, but a suburban life in Connecticut isn’t doing much to take her mind off her troubles. And even though the arrival of a sexy new transfer student named Sebastian brings some excitement to Carrie’s world, she is struggling to move on from her grief. So when Tom offers Carrie the chance to intern at a law firm in Manhattan, she leaps at the chance. Carrie’s eyes are opened wide at the glamour and grit of New York City—and when she meets Larissa, the style editor for Interview magazine, she’s inspired by the club culture and unique individuals that make up Larissa’s world. Carrie’s friends and family may have a big place in her heart, but she’s fallen in love for the first time with the most important man in her life—Manhattan. The series stars AnnaSophia Robb (Soul Surfer) as Carrie Bradshaw, Austin Butler (Switched at Birth, Life Unexpected) as Sebastian Kydd, Ellen Wong (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Combat Hospital) as Mouse; Katie Findlay (The Killing, SGU Stargate Universe) as Maggie Landers, Stefania Owen (Running Wilde, The Lovely Bones) as Dorrit Bradshaw, Brendan Dooling (An Elf’s Story: The Elf On The Shelf) as Walt Reynolds, Chloe Bridges (90210) as Donna LaDonna, Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who, Law & Order: UK) as Larissa Loughton, and Matt Letscher (Brothers & Sisters, Entourage) as Tom Bradshaw. Based on the novels The Carrie Diaries and Summer And The City by Candace Bushnell, The Carrie Diaries is from Fake Empire in association with Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Amy B. Harris (Sex And The City, Gossip Girl), Josh Schwartz (Hart Of Dixie, Gossip Girl), Stephanie Savage (Hart Of Dixie, Gossip Girl), Len Goldstein (Hart Of Dixie), and Candace Bushnell. Miguel Arteta (Enlightened, Cedar Rapids) directed the pilot, which was written by Harris.

Cult: Investigative journalist Jeff Sefton has learned to laugh off his brother Nate’s relentless string of obsessions, especially his latest rant that a hit TV show intends to harm him. However, when his brother mysteriously disappears, Jeff takes Nate’s paranoia seriously, and in the process uncovers the dark underworld of the TV show Cult and its rabid fans. The only person who seems willing to help Jeff with his investigation is Skye, a young research assistant for Cult, who has also started to grow suspicious of the increasingly dark happenings surrounding the show. The fictitious show, centered on the cat-and-mouse game between charismatic cult leader Billy Grimm and LAPD detective Kelly Collins, has become an obsession for its viewers—and now some of its devotees seem to be taking their fixation to deadly extremes in the real world. As Jeff and Skye dig deeper into the fan world, they discover that the gruesome plot twists on television are much more than fantasy for some very unfortunate people. The hardcore fans of Cult would kill to see what happens next… The series stars Matt Davis (The Vampire Diaries) as Jeff Sefton, Jessica Lucas (Melrose Place, Cloverfield) as Skye Yarrow, Alona Tal (Supernatural, The Killing) as Kelly Collins, and Robert Knepper (Prison Break, Shameless) as Billy Grimm. Cult is from Fake Empire and Rockne S. O’Bannon Television in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios, with executive producers Rockne S. O’Bannon (Farscape, V), Josh Schwartz (Chuck, Gossip Girl), Stephanie Savage (Hart Of Dixie, Gossip Girl), Len Goldstein (Hart Of Dixie) and Jason Ensler (Franklin & Bash, Hart Of Dixie). The pilot was directed by Jason Ensler and written by Rockne S. O’Bannon.