First impressions of the fall lineups.

Perhaps appropriately bringing up the rear among the upfront presentations, CW Prez Dawn Ostroff's swan-song appearance at these events included a shrewd mix of new dramas, a really moronic-looking reality show, and a pitch regarding the network's online/social media credentials that unfortunately sought to coin a new term, "View-niverse."

On the plus side, all the dramas look reasonably compatible with the ones with which they're being paired, and the casting — Rachel Bilson as a doctor (suddenly I'm feeling under the weather) in "Hart of Dixie," Sarah Michelle Gellar back in "Ringer," Britt Robertson and company in "The Secret Circle" — ought to make some noise, and add to the netlet's posse of appealing female leads. CW's best show, "Nikita," also survived, giving me a reason to fire up the TiVo on Friday nights.

Still, the whole "Our viewers don't watch us on TV" pitch — even if it's partially true thanks to the network's younger, downloading audience — always sounds a little bit like an alibi, and the reality show that will lead into "America's Next Top Model," "H8R," seems truly inane: Bringing celebrities together with people who profess to hate them, only to discover how wonderful they are when they get to know the real Kim Kardashian or Snooki. It might work ratings-wise, but what's next? "Stalker?"

Tyra Banks' self-absorbed spiel was also pretty stomach-turning, but the giggles in the screening I saw nearly obscured the fact "Top Model" has entered the gimmick phase, with Banks saying there will be no more ordinary versions of the series. Although that's worked well enough for some of the longrunning unscripted franchises, it can often be the last step on the runway before nearing the end of a show's View-niverse. B

 

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