The CW at TCA: CBS' kid sibling has an online Veronica Mars spinoff and little else of note

The CW at TCA: CBS' kid sibling has an online Veronica Mars spinoff and little else of note

CW president Mark Pedowitz appeared before the Television Critics Association winter press tour today, and he mostly faced a barrage of questions he couldn’t answer about shows he won’t cancel or pick up until May. (The CW, unlike Fox, apparently still believes in pilot season.) The one bit of actual news there was at the panel actually came before Pedowitz went on stage, announced by CW publicity head Paul Hewett: CW Seed, the network’s digital platform, will air an online-only spinoff of Veronica Mars, presumably tied to the upcoming movie. There were no other details—Hewett said that the network had literally just closed the deal—but there’s something at least. You Veronica Mars fans will have a few more episodes of something nebulous and digital to enjoy!

Other than that, the session was remarkably news-free, mostly concerned with the network’s ever-shifting identity. Several years ago, it attempted to contract into a network targeting just 18-34-year-old women from one that was targeting the usual 18-49-year-old adults most other networks target, figuring that audience was underserved by network television. The strategy obviously worked like gangbusters, because now everyone is accordioning back out to target everybody from 18-49. Pedowitz said that the ideal CW show is high-concept, with an element of fantasy and heavy serialization. Cop shows won’t work for the network and its target audience—a target audience, it must be said, that seems to watch nothing but The CW sometimes—but something like, say, Gossip Girl can because it has those three elements. Thus, a series like Reign can debut soft (perhaps because it didn’t seem all that much like a CW show to the channel’s viewers at first), then grow to a point where it’s posting higher numbers in the timeslot than said timeslot’s previous occupant was.

All of this means that if Fox is trying to become your futuristic digita spaceport TV hub and CBS is trying to learn how to turn on its computer, The CW is… becoming a TV network? It’s a very confusing process, but it mostly exists to allow The CW to carve out just enough space in the daily Nielsen charts that it’s not laughed off the air by its corporate big brother. (One imagines CBS executives affectionately tousling the hair of CW employees when they see them in the halls.) Anyway, that means that Pedowitz, who runs a network where every show not named Vampire Diaries or Arrow is in perpetual fear of cancellation, mostly spends his executive sessions answering questions about what has or hasn’t been canceled, which is all well and good if you really care about the fate of The Carrie Diaries but is basically meaningless once you realize that none of these decisions will be made for months and will rely on things not yet known to us, like how the network’s development slate comes in and just what happens to the ratings for Hart Of Dixie when it moves to Friday in months to come.

Pedowitz did say that he thought Supernatural could run for “years,” so long as the ratings hold up, and he also promised to bring back Beauty And The Beast to finish out its run sometime in May. (The show was left without a timeslot on the network’s midseason schedule, something that would normally suggest it’s as good as canceled. But Pedowitz wouldn’t say one way or another, so hope springs eternal, Beauty And The Beast fans!) When it comes to Reign, Pedowitz was slightly more bullish, saying that he hoped to see it again next year, which is network president speak for, “Yeah, we’ll probably renew it, why not?” He also got asked a couple of questions about what’s going to happen in specific storylines on specific CW shows, the sort of thing that basically no other network president has to put up with (give or take Showtime’s David Nevins having to answer all of our “Why didn’t Brody die at the end of season two?” Homeland questions a while back).

So, in conclusion: If you like a show on The CW, it might be coming back. It also might be canceled. Hope that clears things up.

Other quick CW hits:

  • The network has picked up the Canadian comedy Seed to run with Whose Line Is It Anyway over the summer. Pedowitz didn’t have any news on how he would distinguish the show Seed from the digital network CW Seed, but we’re pretty sure CW Seed isn’t even real, because who uses that, you guys?
  • The network has picked up Labyrinth, a four-hour miniseries starring Sebastian Stan, John Hurt, Jessica Brown-Findlay, and Tom Fenton. Sadly, it is not a miniseries adaptation of the film and is, instead, about two women, separated by 800 years, who separately search for the Holy Grail in France.
  • Also, the network is doing a reality show called Barber Battle with Cedric the Entertainer. It is exactly what it sounds like, as odd as that might seem.
  • The other reality pick-up is Penn & Teller: Fool Us, in which amateur magicians try to impress the titular magicians. 
  • Also, we asked why The CW’s female pages at TCA are all models in strapless dresses, because, seriously, that’s weird and kind of messed up. That this is making headlines, however, tells you how little else the network had to talk about.