By Jordan Walker
The youngest broadcast network makes some grown-up decisions.
The CW, like its parent network CBS, made a splash on the last day of the 2010 upfront presentations. Executives acknowledged the young network’s progress by making some grown-up moves to improve the network’s performance in the ratings.
Unfortunately, The CW had to cancel two new dramas this season, “The Beautiful Life” after only a few episodes aired midseason, and “Melrose Place” after its finale. Network executives are hoping to fill those spots with new dramas to improve the network’s ratings.
For the first time in its four-year history, The CW will not have any vacant timeslots on its schedule. Typically there has been an empty spot on Fridays, and it has been filled with a repeat of “America’s Next Top Model.” No more. The CW also confirmed the news that Tom Welling, star of the Superman drama “Smallville,” will hang up his Superman cape next spring and end the successful show after a ten-year run.
Mondays will be a little wealthier on The CW next fall with the pairing of “Gossip Girl” and “90210.” Rodeo Drive is making the move from Tuesday nights to Monday nights at 9 p.m. to follow in the stilettoed footsteps of its 5th Avenue counterpart.
The cancellation of the “Melrose Place” allowed The CW the luxury of not having to make a tough decision between two bubble shows (shows in the purgatory of not knowing if they would be renewed), “One Tree Hill” and “Life Unexpected,” which had similar ratings last season, and have two avid fan bases. The two shows will pair up on Tuesdays this fall. “One Tree Hill,” which will enter its impressive eighth season this fall, will start the night at 8 p.m., and serve as a lead in to the second season of “Life Unexpected” at 9 p.m.
Tyra Banks’ reality show, “America’s Next Top Model,” will air its 15th cycle this fall on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. At 9 p.m. a new cheerleading drama, “Hellcats,” will pull Ashley Tisdale and Aly Michalka from their long runs on Disney Channel. “Hellcats” explores the behind the scenes drama, politics, and catfights of competitive college cheerleading. “Hellcats” will fit seamlessly with lead-in “America’s Next Top Model,” and is bound to retain a high percentage of the reality show’s audience.
“The Vampire Dairies,” The CW’s biggest hit ever, will stay in its Thursday 8 p.m. timeslot, and will lead in to “Nikita,” a new drama that is a revamp of an old favorite, “La Femme Nikita.” The show stars martial arts expert and international star Maggie Q as an assassin and spy for a secret U.S. government agency, as well as Melinda Clarke (The OC), Shane West (A Walk to Remember), and Lyndsy Fonseca (How I Met Your Mother). Executives are hoping “Nikita” will bring in a number of male viewers to the predominately female demographics the network currently holds. The action, suspense, and red string bikini on Maggie Q in the pilot episode should entice men to at least sample this series.
Fridays will see the reunion of two shows that has been around longer than The CW itself. The tenth and final season of “Smallville,” and the sixth season of “Supernatural,” which both made the transition to The CW from The WB (when the network folded) in 2006, will be partnered up for one last time next season. The CW hopes to improve its ratings on Friday nights with the partnering.
This summer, The CW will premiere a new reality makeover show entitled “Plain Jane.” The CW will also be taking advantage of its ties with CBS by re-airing the short-lived, 2007 vampire drama, “Moonlight.” While The CW will air “Moonlight,” the network will not be bringing the show back from the grave, as the show’s original star, Alex O’Loughlin, will be starring in the new CBS drama “Hawaii 5-0.” “Moonlight” will start its run on The CW Thursday, June 3rd. Neither show is planned to continue into the fall, and there are no announcements as of yet about midseason shows.