The CW Makes Good On Promise of More Comedy

Prez Mark Pedowitz has seen potential for comedy on the CW's lineup since joining the net in 2011

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The CW announced this week that it has acquired the U.S. broadcast rights to Canadian comedy series “Seed,” signalling that the network’s plan to add more comedy to its lineup is well underway.

Skein, from Joseph Raso and Mark Farrell, centers on a sperm donor who reluctantly begins a relationship with three unique and separate recipient families. Entertainment One shepherded the series to the CW. Network, as of now, does not know where it will place “Seed” on its lineup, or what the show will be paired with.

The debut of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” this summer and the acquisition of “Seed” marks an evolution for the CW, a network currently known for sudsy, youth-skewing fantasy dramas including “The Vampire Diaries” and “Arrow.”

Years ago, the CW boasted a handful of sitcoms on its lineup. Many, including Chris Rock’s “Everybody Hates Chris,” were rollover series from now-defunct channels UPN and WB, shows that transitioned to CW once the network launched in 2006. “Everybody Hates Chris” and “The Game” had the longest comedy tenure on the CW’s primetime lineup compared to other sitcoms, running from 2006 till 2009, when the network cancelled both laffers.

The CW tried to launch a handful of other comedies through 2011 including “Aliens in America” and “18 to Life,” but none ran for more than one or two seasons. Comedy, then, took a backseat on the net, as hourlong vampire and superhero dramas bolstered the CW’s ratings and homed in on the coveted 18-34 demographic.

But network president Mark Pedowitz believed comedy still had a place on the CW’s lineup — it just had to be strategically integrated. The prez has been eying the genre since stepping into the top post in 2011, but it was only this year that comedy began to firmly establish itself on the CW, with Pedowitz’s vision finally bearing fruit.

The CW announced in March that it would be reviving improv comedy show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” adding the program to its summer lineup in an effort to boost its originals. Net saw the revival as not only an opportunity to draw fans of the former ABC series to the CW, but also as an opportunity to take a prudent step towards comedy through unscripted, a space already thriving on the CW with shows like “America’s Next Top Model.”

“Whose Line’s” return to TV on the CW drew strong ratings for the net in its Tuesday night timeslot, which Pedowitz saw as a solid indicator that the CW is being primed for more comedy. The acquisition of “Seed” is no doubt a result of “Whose Line’s” success.

Of course, the revival of “Whose Line” and nabbing of “Seed” are both safe, risk-averse moves towards comedy: “Whose Line” came with an established fan base (social media rejoiced at the return of the show when it was announced by vets of the series on Twitter), and “Seed” arrives with a promising report card, since the laffer ranked as Canadian TV network City’s highest-rated original comedy series to date.

So, it may be awhile before we see the CW flaunting a halfhour comedy development pipeline like that of other networks. Pedowitz remarked at the CW’s summer TCA session that the net is presently focused on developing projects in the reality-comedy space.

But, should the laughs — and viewers — keep arriving at the CW, a fresh crop of comedy series likely will as well.