Serial skepticism
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Some nights, the CW draws hide-your-eyes ratings. But every now and then, the oft-ignored broadcast network delivers an audience worth noticing.

The broadcast networks have three new fall series anchored by female leads, and two are on the CW. Most promising of the trio is “Nikita,” the latest remake of “La Femme Nikita.”

Looking at the 2010-11 season, there’s reason to believe the now-and-thens are going to come a bit more often.

The introduction of “Nikita” to the Thursday primetime lineup, following second-year series “The Vampire Diaries,” gives the CW a bonafide appointment night of television. It’s not an easy night by any means, but it’s a lineup that means business.

“To put any new show on at 8 o’clock is risky, but on Thursday night particularly. And then, we put (‘Vampire Diaries’) out there, and it became our No. 1 show in one season,” CW prexy Dawn Ostroff says.

” ‘Nikita’ will have a strong lead-in from ‘Vampire Diaries,’ but I also think that “Nikita” will attract yet a different audience. And so some crossover will happen between the two shows, and both will benefit in the end.”

The CW’s other second-year returnee, “Life Unexpected,” jazzes up Tuesday nights on the fall sked (airing behind vet “One Tree Hill”), while freshman “Hellcats” will follow “America’s Next Top Model” in the hopes of strengthening Wednesdays. Mondays offer veterans “90210” and “Gossip Girl,” Fridays “Smallville” and “Supernatural.”

What this all means is that the potential is there for the CW to ride a steady ship through the coming season, with nary a cancelation from its fall lineup.

“We are well-positioned for growth,” Ostroff says. “For the first time in our history, we now have original programming across the entire fall schedule, every night, every time period.”


For those who saw the rapid implosion of last year’s “The Beautiful Life” coming a mile away, the CW’s latest beautiful people drama, set in the world of college cheerleading, might seem to have warning sirens blaring. But “Hellcats” offers a determined performance by Aly Michalka (“Phil of the Future”) and cred in the teen and young adult demo with Ashley Tisdale of “High School Musical,” and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Critics might be catty, but there should be enough of a fan base to do an eight-clap.


Maggie Q should compel more than the average CW audience to watch the serialized drama, which is augmented by rough-and-tumble ingenue Lyndsy Fonseca (previously seen sitting silently as the daughter on “How I Met Your Mother”) reluctantly trained in the assassin game by Shane West (“ER”).

It could hardly have a tougher timeslot than 9 p.m. Thursdays (where ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” has long ruled), but with “The Vampire Diaries” as a lead-in and bankable international interest, “Nikita” should enjoy a long run on the CW.