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Upfronts 2012: The CW Is ... Well ... It's Still Technically a Network

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 17, 2012 |

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 17, 2012 |

The most interesting things about the CW is that it passed on a J.J. Abrams pilot, “Shelter,” as well as a blatant The Hunger Games knock-off, “The Selection,” which everyone swore was totally not even a little bit a rip-off of The Hunger Games. Also of note, “One Tree Hill” is finally off the air. I’ve still never seen a single episode of the show, probably the only long running modern show I can say that about. I’m good with that. The only show which we didn’t know about in terms of renewed or canceled going into the CW’s upfronts was “The LA Complex,” which has gotten terrible ratings, but is getting a second season in Canada regardless of what the CW does. But we did know that a bunch of the network’s bubble shows got renewed as the CW is making a push to offer more original programming, ratings be damned.

Also of note, while the CW only offers ten hours of programming, only one show remains on the same night and time (“The Vampire Diaries”), with a second show on the same night at a different time (“Nikita”). When you’re barely a network and not even on most people’s radar, you’re free to move things all of the place to try to find something that works.

Renewed. “90210,” “America’s Next Top Model,” “Gossip Girl,” “Hart of Dixie,” “Nikita,” “Supernatural” and “The Vampire Diaries.”

Cancelled. “H8R,” “Remodeled,” “Ringer” and “The Secret Circle.” If you don’t remember “H8R,” good on ya. Fuck that show. As for “The Secret Circle,” I almost feel bad that it was canceled, not because I gave a shit about the show, but because before its cancellation, creator Andrew Miller was actually refreshingly candid about the first season problems and his hopes that he’d get a second season to make things right. Sorry Andrew, better luck next time.

Mondays. Two old shows on a new night, with “90210” at 8 and “Gossip Girl” at 9. This is the final season of “Gossip Girl,” which got an 11 episode pick-up to say goodbye to the world. For “90210,” meanwhile, did you know this was the 5th season? Indeed.

In January, when that’s said and done with, the CW will premiere the new drama “The Carrie Diaries.” Lemme just give you the first line of the press release summary: “It’s 1984, and life isn’t easy for 16-year-old Carrie Bradshaw.” So yeah, fuck this show. Fuck it twice over because Freema Agyeman is in it, and I hate that my beloved Martha Jones has been forced to stoop to this. The CW hasn’t released any preview video of the show, so at least we have that going for us.

Tuesdays. Tuesdays start of with “Hart of Dixie,” also on a new night. That leads in to the new “Emily Owens, M.D.,” which had previously been called “First Cut.” I kinda prefer the old name. Although I don’t care for the show itself, whatever its name is. It stars Mamie Gummer, whoever that is (her name sounds like a racist cartoon character from the 50’s, don’t it?) as a recent med school graduate who is going to be working for a famous cardiologist. And her med-school crush is there too! Wacky.

The CW did put out a video for this, but I couldn’t get it to play so I’m not imbedding it. Fuck “First Cut” in its mouth.

Wednesdays. Wednesdays give us the CW’s “double dose of high-octane action” (wretch) with the new “Arrow” leading in to the the returning “Supernatural.” “Arrow,” like “Smallville” before it, is based on a DC Comics character, the Green Arrow. It stars a bunch of people I’ve never heard of and I’ll probably watch as many episodes of this as I did of “Smallville.”

Thursdays. At 8 p.m., we get the one show that gets to keep its home from last year, “The Vampire Diaries.” That leads in to the new “Beauty and the Beast.” One guess what that show’s about.

Apparently, it’s “loosely based” on the show that ran back in the 80’s, where Lind Hamilton played Beauty and Ron Perlman played the Beast/Vincent (I remember that show but do not remember that it ran for 3 seasons. Huh). As you saw, Kristin Kreuk takes over the role of Beauty, and some dude named Jay Ryan takes over as Vincent T. Beast. I’m not even remotely the target demo for this, and I’ll absolutely be passing, but I could see this show doing well on the CW. Although I’m not sure it should be paired up with “The Vampire Diaries.” But what do I know?

Fridays. “America’s Next Top Model” gets a new night, leading Friday off at 8, followed by the same night but new time slot for “Nikita.” I’m a few episodes behind on “Nikita,” but I’m pretty pleased that this under appreciated show managed to sneak its way into a third season (and by under appreciated, I mean that almost nobody watches the damn thing). As I wrote a while back, it’s the perfect gym show. “America’s Next Top Model,” meanwhile, is the perfect nothing. The show is about to have its 19th (!) season, and its going to add audience voting to the mix. Can we vote Tyra off?

Midseason Filler. In addition to “The Carrie Diaries,” mentioned above, the CW has “Cult,” which is about a tv show called … “Cult.” Here’s the convoluted premise:

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.

Sounds awesome.

The CW is taking a new approach to its fall premieres, by the way, for those of you who plan on tuning it. Its current plan is not to launch its new schedule until “early October,” a few weeks after the rest of the networks have gotten underway. They say this is to trim up their season lengths, meaning less hiatus breaks for shows. It’s actually not a bad approach as it not only trims several weeks out of the way, but gives the CW a tiny, tiny chance of getting some viewers who have tried new shows on other networks and are uninterested. The CW is still an also-ran and pretty much always will be, but I kinda like that it’s still trying.

I wanted to give you a video to leave with, so I just hopped over to the YouTube and did a search for “plucky.” I was very happy to find this:

I also found this, which is actually a CW-specific video:

And with that, our major coverage of the upfornts is over, although we’ll probably give you some info on some of the news bits from the various other stations, to the extent we care and think you’ll care. In the meantime, here, just because I watched G n’ R’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Yesterday:

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Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.