Upfront Scorecard: CW Proves It’s Not Just a Flash in the Pan

Frankly, the CW could have spent its 2015 upfront presentation resting on its laurels for having launched “The Flash” and “Jane the Virgin” last year, and lord knows, there was plenty of that. Yet the mini-network appeared to build on its gains this season with a trio of promising-looking dramas joining its roster, only one of which will be on in the fall. Admittedly, programming just 10 hours reduces the network’s workload, but even so, the latest rookies appear to have done nothing to lower its recent batting average.

Those who took a shot every time CW president Mark Pedowitz mentioned that “The Flash” is the network’s “most-watched show ever” would have been blotto-ed by the end of the hourlong presentation. Nevertheless, the consistent excellence of that DC property throughout season one has been impressive, and paved the way for a midseason extension of the “Flash”-“Arrow” tandem, “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.” Granted, that’s a terrible title, but the superhero/villain team-up looks like a great deal of fun, with a pilot that, just from the preview, doubtless broke Warner Bros. TV’s piggy bank.

Still, that was actually the second-best project on display, with “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” featuring Rachel Bloom, looking surprisingly charming. As anti-feminist as the title might sound, the mix of music, comedy and jabs directed at West Covina position this to become another possible critical darling on a network that — as Pedowitz noted, repeatedly — has seldom received much best-list or award consideration before now. Credit CW, too, with recognizing a natural fit on a project developed by CBS corporate sibling Showtime.

Finally, there’s “Containment,” another viral-outbreak series, this time from “The Vampire Diaries” showrunner Julie Plec. While the jury obviously remains out, based on first impressions it appears more engaging than Netflix’s similarly themed “Between.”

CW also shuffled its lineup marginally by putting Plec’s “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Originals” together on Thursdays, which makes considerable sense. About the only caution flag would be “Supernatural,” whose protagonists will qualify for Social Security if it goes on too much longer. Oh, and there will be more of “Reign” and “Beauty and the Beast,” but nobody’s perfect.

CW isn’t in the sitcom business, but the last few seasons have demonstrated that it’s no longer a punching bag — or a punchline. And if any of these new shows come close to replicating how this season’s development turned out, then its recent hot streak isn’t just a flash in the plan.

Grade: A-


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