×

Upfront Scorecard: CW Sends in the Clones

Netlet's Development Sticks to Familiar Formula; Think 'Reign 90210'

If you adhere to the notion variety is the spice of life (as opposed to just a terrific place to run “For your consideration” ads), the CW is definitely not the network for you. That’s because its development — unveiled at Thursday’s “Is this week finally over?” upfront presentation — all appeared to adhere to a familiar formula, placing teenage protagonists (played by 20-somethings) in exotic serialized settings.

In that context, even the shows that ostensibly stretch the network’s parameters — like “Reign,” a medieval drama about Mary, Queen of Scots — manage to look as much like spinoffs and “90210” clones as “The Originals,” a direct brand extension of “The Vampire Diaries.”

So while the shows are polished and the cutdowns slick — perhaps the most interesting being “The 100,” a midseason “The Lord of the Flies”-like construct that dispatches teens from a space station down to re-inhabit a nuclear-ravaged Earth — there’s a sort-of numbing sameness to a CW presentation. And for all the talk about its “young viewers,” the programming template (as the demos bear out) feels just as much aimed at 40-year-olds with a taste for escapism and a strong Internet connection. Or maybe that’s just the “Beauty and the Beast” fans who pleaded with me to give the show a second chance. (Since I’ll have to sample the midseason show “Star Crossed” — about a budding romance between a teenage girl and a dreamy space alien — put me down for “Already donated” on the pledge drive.)

On its face, the lineup makes a lot of sense, with “Beauty” joining the almost-equally laughable “Hart of Dixie” on Mondays, “The Originals” leading into “Supernatural” on Tuesdays, and “Arrow” being joined by a show about youths who represent “the next step in human evolution,” “The Tomorrow People,” on Wednesdays. CW’s appetite for hot young stars has so exhausted the talent pool that the latter stars Robbie Amell, the cousin of “Arrow’s” Stephen Amell — further robbing Canada of its natural resources.

“Reign,” meanwhile, joins “Vampire Diaries,” while “The Carrie Diaries” — a tepid “Sex and the City” prequel — promises to introduce the Samantha character as it shifts to Fridays. (Incidentally, whoever thought it was a good idea to have the actress who stars in “Reign,” Adelaide Kane, wear a tiara onstage should be thrown into the Tower of London.)

Give CW credit, perhaps, for having a strategy and pursuing it, but if it really wants to be perceived as hip and edgy, at some point the network’s going to have to develop and schedule a show that doesn’t create the impression of having been plucked directly from the rib of something already on its lineup.

Now there’s an assignment for tomorrow, people.

Grade: B-

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • George RR Martin

    George R.R. Martin Says HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Ending Won't Influence Future Novels

    Geroge R.R. Martin is sticking to his original plan when it comes to the future of “Game of Thrones.” In an interview with The Observer, Martin claimed that HBO’s controversial ending for the series would have no affect on the endings of the last two novels. “No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything at all,” [...]

  • Listen: 'Pennyworth' Producer Talks Delving into

    Listen: 'Pennyworth' Executive Producer Talks Delving into Alfred's Backstory

    Bruno Heller may have served as an executive producer on the Batman-inspired series “Gotham” for the past five years, but it’s actually real-life people (not superheroes) that intrigue the producer the most. It’s for that exact reason that Heller’s newest series finds him exploring the origin stories of Batman’s butler Alfred in the Epix drama [...]

  • "Trust Issues" - Dylan and Lizzie

    'Instinct' Canceled After Two Seasons

    CBS has canceled “Instinct” after two seasons. Series creator Michael Rauch announced the cancellation Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won’t be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25.” Rauch also thanked series stars Alan Cumming [...]

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley' Final

    TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley's' Final Season Sets October Premiere Date

    In today’s roundup, “Silicon Valley” returns to HBO on Oct. 27 and Quibi greenlights a new cooking competition show “Dismantled.” DATES The fifth season of Netflix‘s “Peaky Blinders” will premiere on the streamer Oct. 4. The newest season will continue to follow one gangster family in the lawless streets of Birmingham, UK during the midst [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content