Sunday, March 19, 2006

Super TV preview: The CW

The CW is a hybrid monster, stitched together from the still (barely) functioning pieces of UPN and The WB. Neither network has a HUGE number of hit shows, but they both have just enough that some shows are going to get cut. And since both networks cater to younger audiences, the shows they have tend to have pretty big cult followings. So whatever gets cut, expect to hear LOTS of yelling about it.

There isn't going to be a lot of room for new shows on the schedule. At one time, I thought Aquaman was a shoo-in, but it might not be, what with the three times the lead has changed. Needless to say, it's going to be an interesting time.

That said, there are probably only four shows that are REALLY fighting to get on the schedule. Stuff like Related and most of UPN's sitcoms is going to get canceled.

The shows that are confirmed for the fall line-up are:

America's Next Top Model
Beauty and the Geek
Everybody Hates Chris
Gilmore Girls
Smallville
WWE Smackdown

That's six-and-a-half hours of programming right there (five-and-a-half if Geek and Model share a time slot as I suspect they might). Neither network has a lot of sitcoms, but Reba from The WB and Girlfriends should get the call (every network needs a sitcom night) to go along with one new sitcom.

When it comes to dramas, these are probably the four that are on the fence. . .

Everwood
One Tree Hill
Supernatural
Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars and Supernatural are probably safe. So it looks as though Everwood and One Tree Hill will battle it out for that final timeslot. Both have rabid cult audiences that follow them to wherever they go. Both are pretty close to 100 episodes (Everwood would pass that magic mark in its fifth season). One Tree Hill appears to sell marginally better on DVD, but Everwood already has a cable rerun deal worked out with ABC Family (such a deal boosted Gilmore Girls ratings to the heights they're at now). That deal gets a bit of a boost if the show can hit 100 episodes. So, really, there's plenty of money to be made from both shows.

Will this manage to prolong the lives of either network? I don't know. Their best hope is to boost some of their hit shows to the level of, say, NBC, but I don't know if the network is going to have an identity. When Fox burst on the scene, you knew what they were up to. They were brash and bold. The CW is going to seem a little. . .soft. But what do I know? Maybe the two networks really WERE cannibalizing the same audience and that audience will sign up for The CW.

But enough about that. Let's get on to the predicting.

Check out the many iterations of both networks' schedules here. And look at the CW pilots here.

Sunday:

5 p.m.-8 p.m. EST/PST: Reruns of CW shows (probably Veronica Mars and Supernatural)
8 p.m.: Everybody Hates Chris (new night)
8:30 p.m.: Reba (new night, time slot)
9 p.m.: Everwood (new night)

I think everyone's going to chase the family audience on Sundays (you'll see even more when I put up my NBC schedule). The Simpsons is getting weak, and most of the other networks aren't really tapping into the lucrative audience of people who want to watch something with the kids after football. The three shows I've put in here make a natural progression for families. Chris and Reba may not seem to flow, but Reba fits better before Everwood than it did in any other comedy block I tried to construct. And I think Everwood is going to get the ratings boost it needs on Monday nights to come back for a fifth (and probably final) season opposite the great beast, Desperate Housewives.

Monday:

8 p.m.: Girlfriends (new time slot)
8:30 p.m.: The Game (She Said, He Said at midseason) (new series)
9 p.m.: Split Decision (new series)

Split Decision, again, doesn't fit with these two other shows, but I think The CW is going to take a chance on it as teens need something in that slot (plus, it's never going to be a slot where they can get a lot of traction. Girlfriends does AMAZINGLY well with African-American audiences, so it and its spin-off, The Game, will get a chance here.

Tuesday:

8 p.m.: Gilmore Girls
9 p.m.: Veronica Mars (new night)

The pairing all of America wants. For the first time, the show coming out of Gilmore Girls would make legitimate sense following it. And this would be the ideal opportunity for Veronica to finally prove it can draw an audience.

Wednesday:

8 p.m.: America's Next Top Model/Beauty and the Geek
9 p.m.: Palm Springs (new series)

The ANTM/BatG pairing seems like a natural fit. Palm Springs would be going up against Lost, which would seem to fight against its mystery vibe, but Veronica Mars is doing all right in that slot (as long as it has its Model lead-in), so Palm Springs should do okay too.

Thursday:

8 p.m.: Smallville
9 p.m.: Supernatural (Aquaman at midseason)

This night is working well enough. Why mess with something like that? I think that Aquaman will ultimately find a home on the schedule, but they'll give themselves the maximum amount of time to retool the thing. The story doesn't seem to be a natural fit for television anyway.

Friday:

8 p.m.: WWE Smackdown!

It performs well enough, and they have to put it somewhere, and they're not programming Saturdays. So here you go.

The only other pilot the network has ordered at this time is Runaway. I would not be totally surprised if they put it on at midseason.

Also, look out for the Palladinos (the people behind Gilmore Girls) to re-sign with the network contingent on their detective series getting a midseason order.

That wasn't bad at all, now was it?

Next up: Fox, the network with two personalities.

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