The CW 2008-2009 Fall Schedule
Say what you will about The CW’s second year, but it will be remembered as a general failure in the eyes of most analysts. There was just something about its lineup that fell apart, and no one really knows why: Gossip Girl has been one of the most buzzed about shows on television, the network had two strong pilots in Aliens in America and Reaper, and it seemed as if for once things were going well for Dawn Ostroff. Then, however, everything fell apart: Gossip Girl has been an on-air failure compared to its internet traffic, its reality shows have been absolute busts, and its comedies have struggled mightily.
So, heading into its third year, The CW is taking off the gloves and looking to make a mark on television again. The result is a combination of blatant attempts to rekindle old television glory, further branding their audience based on the teenage girls who make Gossip Girl buzzworthy, and a few bones to critics to prove that the network isn’t in as much of a state of flux as we know they are. The result is something that seems oddly familiar, and The CW only hopes the results aren’t familiar as well.
The New Shows
90210 – Tuesdays at 8pm
It is inevitable that I will be watching this series, even after Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars, Cupid) moved on to his other two pilots (Neither of which has been finalized due to ABC’s decision to largely keep pilot decisions until midseason) and left it in the hands of other people. It has cast members I want to see, particularly the fantastic Jessica Walter (Arrested Development) as the Matriarch, and I’m a sucker for teen dramas.
But it reeks of a certain desperation, a sense that the network commissioned this drama as opposed to it developing organically. There is something abut that which is frightening, but the genesis of the project has thus far seemed logical enough that I am willing to see it through. The one surprising thing is that the network is willing to place it smack dab in the way of the American Idol juggernaut, as opposed to allowing it to flourish elsewhere.
Surviving the Filthy Rich – Tuesdays at 9pm
It sounds fairly similar to last season: outsider enters a rich environment they aren’t used to and finds themselves lost in the world of opulence. It is certainly scarily similar to Gossip Girl in that sense, but the show is set in Palm Beach (Totally different from New York) and is based on a different set of books (although published by the same company as Gossip Girl). The story of a woman hired as a tutor for two rich teen sisters, it seems like the kind of fluff the network wants to use to populate their lineup.
Also new: Tyra Banks’ Stylista (Wednesdays post-ANTM), and unannounced series which will populate Sunday nights as part of the network’s deal with MRC, which will be revealed later.
Reaper – Midseason
A late pickup for the network, Reaper is a show that never realized its potential – it got mired in its procedural elements, something that creatively speaking never kept Pushing Daisies down in the same fashion in terms of promising pilots transitioning to episodic television. The show has a lot of charm, but I lost interest early on and never went back. The show’s post-strike performance was good enough, especially creatively, that the network is giving the show another chance with a 13-episode order.
Gossip Girl – Mondays at 8pm
Gossip Girl will be back, which we’ve known for a while now – what we didn’t know was that the show will be returning earlier than expected, latching onto what worked for The O.C. with an early Summer premiere (Likely in August) with five episodes devoted to the antics of our central characters in the Hamptons that will lead into the fall storylines. This is a good time, where the show’s Nielsen expectations are lower but internet buzz can ratchet up sooner. Plus, it means more time with our characters, something that the show often can’t do in lieu of further plot development. Regardless, they want to make the show work.
Also returning: One Tree Hill, Supernatural, Smallville (With some serious cast changes), The Game, Everybody Hates Chris, America’s Next Top Model
Girlfriends and Aliens in America – Casualties of the struggles of the network’s comedies, they’re on opposite ends of the spectrum: the aged and long-past its prime Girlfriends, and the potential-filled but ratings-maligned comedy. I fell off the wagon on the latter when it stopped being funny, but I was perhaps too harsh and there was just too many who thought like me. Plus, it never got off on the right foot to begin with.
Beauty & the Geek and Pussycat Dolls – two reality shows that seemed like they were having ratings success, particularly the former, before they fell to earth extremely quickly this time around. The shows did decent on the first go-around with The CW, but something about this year just did not treat them well.
Friday Night Smackdown! – It may not be a purist’s opinion, but from a corporate standpoint The CW is going to be in trouble with the loss of professional wrestling. The WWE has brought them strong demographic performance on a night when the other networks struggle mightily, and somehow a lineup of comedies and repeats of a reality show aren’t likely to spark the same level of interest. They need to fill this gap, and I don’t know if anything on the schedule right now will do it.
The CW has come to the table with a schedule that is quite similar to its previous one,
almost dangerously so – one wonders if shows similarly themed to others that have either been gone for years or are eerily similar to existing shows are going to in any way rejuvenate a network that is in desperate need of some fresh blood. Its success will depend on nostalgia and familiarity finding a new audience amongst young viewers, and perhaps more of the same is just what the doctor ordered for the ailing network.