Friday, May 20, 2005

Fall Lineup Frenzy: The WB

The frenzy continues with The WB, a channel whose best shows feature teenage and college-age characters (Gilmore Girls, Everwood, Smallville, One Tree Hill). Let's see what's up with this network this season. As always, the info came from The Futon Critic,specifically at this link.


5:00-5:30 p.m. Easy View presentation of “What I Like About You”
5:30-6:00 p.m. Easy View presentation of “What I Like About You”
6:00-7:00 p.m. Easy View presentation of “One Tree Hill”
7:00-7:30 p.m. “Reba” (encore presentation)
7:30-8:00 p.m. “Reba” (encore presentation)
8:00-9:00 p.m. “Charmed”
9:00-10:00 p.m. “Blue Collar TV”

My Thoughts: Who doesn't like Easy View? It's like TiVo on a schedule. I'm kind of surprised that Charmed is still on, but the fans do flock to it when they can. My mom is still a fan. And it looks like the battle on Sunday isn't to beat Desperate Housewives...but to win the counter-programming battle. Between Law and Order: Criminal Intent on NBC, Blue Collar TV on The WB, the Family Guy/American Dad duo on FOX and the first hour of the CBS Sunday Movie...who will win second place??


8:00-9:00 p.m. “7th Heaven”
9:00-10:00 p.m. “JUST LEGAL”


“Just Legal” is a fast-paced procedural drama with humor starring Jay Baruchel (‘Undeclared," ‘Million Dollar Baby”) and Don Johnson (“Miami Vice, ” “Nash Bridges”) as lawyers who save their clients, and in the process, save themselves. David “Skip” Ross (Baruchel), 19, a brilliant legal prodigy, dreams of becoming a great trial lawyer. When he can't land a job at a prestigious L.A. firm because he's too young, Skip ends up working for Grant Cooper (Johnson). Once a great lawyer, now burnt-out by the realities of life, Cooper is barely scraping by in his beachfront law office. Together, Skip and Cooper become defenders of the accused and crusaders for the unjustly wronged. Their cases vary from stories ripped from today's headlines to clever mysteries with procedural twists. Skip's middle-class parents, Deborah (Veanne Cox, “Erin Brockovich”) and Lenny Ross (Raphael Sbarge, “The Guardian”), and his under-achieving younger brother Tom (newcomer Michael Mitchell), are all extremely proud of Skip's accomplishments, but are also concerned for his well-being, especially when his first case involves proving the innocence of a young woman named Paradise (Peyton List, “The Greatest Game Ever Played”) who has been falsely accused of a gang-related murder. Always the underdogs, forced to do the gritty work of finding clues and tracking down witnesses in the beautiful, but often dangerous world of Southern California, Cooper teaches Skip to be a lawyer and a man, while Skip renews Cooper's faith in the law and himself. Jerry Bruckheimer (“CSI, ” “Cold Case, ” “Without a Trace”), Jonathan Littman (“CSI, ” “Cold Case, ” “Without a Trace”) and Jonathan Shapiro (“The Practice, ” “Boston Legal”) are executive producers for Jerry Bruckheimer Television in association with Warner Bros. Television Production Inc.

My Thoughts: I can't believe 7th Heaven is still on the air. It's about to become The Simpsons of family dramas. Wow. As for Just Legal, well, I think a little parody is in order. Here's what the opening lines of the description should have said (no disrespect to any of those involved with the show):

Jay Baruchel, a young actor, dreams of becoming a breakout television star. When he can't land a job on an established TV drama, he takes a role alongside Don Johnson for Jerry Bruckheimer. Once a television star, now made into a has-been by Hollywood, Johnson was barely scraping by before taking this job. Jay hopes that Don will help him get credibility and respect. Don hopes that Jay will give him relevance to a generation that doesn't know who he is. Together, they strive to make good television...and help their careers in the process.

In all seriousness, Just Legal doesn't sound all that great. I hope that it can rise above its silly-sounding premise, I really do.


8:00-9:00 p.m. “Gilmore Girls”
9:00-10:00 p.m. “SUPERNATURAL”


The WB has a long tradition of interweaving character dramas and the world of the supernatural. It began with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and continues with hits like “Smallville” and “Charmed. ” This fall, The WB will take viewers on a completely new kind of thrill ride; a journey into the dark world of the unexplained that will deliver the terror of films like “The Ring” and “The Grudge. ” Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki, “Gilmore Girls”) has done his best to escape his family's eerie history, but, along with his older brother Dean (Jensen Ackles, “Smallville”), Sam is bound by tragedy and blood to a dangerous, other-worldly mission. Criss-crossing the mysterious back roads of the country in their `67 Chevy Impala, the Winchester brothers search for their missing father – and hunt down every evil supernatural force they encounter along the way. From Warner Bros. Television Production Inc. in association with Wonderland Sound and Vision, with executive producers McG (“Charlie's Angels” “The O.C. ”), writer/executive producer Eric Kripke (‘Boogeyman") and director/executive producer David Nutter (“Without a Trace, ” “Smallville, ” “Roswell, ” “Band of Brothers, ” “The West Wing, ” “ER, ” “The X Files”).

My Thoughts: Maybe I'm just in a joking mood but upon reading this I couldn't help thinking of a slogan: "Come for the Girls, stay for the guys." Supernatural has the potential to be a hit for The WB for a number of reasons. Apart from following one of The WB's best (and most popular) shows, it features two male leads that WB viewers know and already like from other series. And for kicks, it has a scary/horror theme that could draw in male audiences. The WB has used this formula before (Angel, anyone?) and it just might work again.


8:00-9:00 p.m. “One Tree Hill”
9:00-10:00 p.m. “RELATED”


The four Sorelli sisters are a bundle of contradictions. These quirky young women are best friends one minute and bitter enemies the next. They confide in one another, yet manage to keep a lot of secrets. They worry about each other, give advice and push each other's buttons. First-born sister Ann (casting TBD) is a 33-year-old legal aid lawyer and the nurturing mother hen of the group. Ann works out of a run-down office, helping people who have no voice, while her closest sibling, Ginnie (Jennifer Esposito, “Crash” “Spin City”), also an attorney, spends her days in a high-powered law firm working for huge corporations. While Ann worries about her long-time relationship with chef and restaurant-owner Danny (Jon Hamm, “The Division” “Kissing Jessica Stein”), Ginnie is trying to figure out how to tell her husband Bob (Callum Blue, “Dead Like Me” “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement”), her bosses and her family that she is pregnant. Next in line is 23-year-old Marjee (Lizzy Caplan, “Mean Girls”), a special events coordinator who stresses out over her demanding celebrity clients while secretly yearning for respect and approval from her older sisters. The youngest sister, Rose (Laura Breckenridge, “Boston Public”), is a 19-year-old college student who just switched her major from pre-med to experimental theater and is afraid to deliver this news to her over-achieving family. A comedic ensemble drama, “Related” is a poignant reminder that family is what life is all about. From Warner Bros. Television Production Inc. and Class IV Productions with executive producers Marta Kauffman (“Friends”), Steve Pearlman, Andrew Plotkin, director/executive producer Mimi Leder (“ER, ” “Pay It Forward”) and writer/co-executive producer Liz Tuccillo (“Sex and the City” and the best-selling book, “He's Just Not That Into You”).

My Thoughts: I think One Tree Hill is strong enough to be a lead-in but I'm not sure if Related will do that well. Part of me thinks that Supernatural should have followed One Tree Hill and Related should have followed Gilmore Girls. Maybe Related and Gilmore Girls have too much in common that they wouldn't work together.


8:00-9:00 p.m. “Smallville”
9:00-10:00 p.m. “Everwood”

My Thoughts: And here I thought it was a good thing that Everwood was no longer conflicting with Las Vegas. Now, it and Smallville are on an insanely competitve night that also has The OC and a brand new block of UPN comedies. VCRs Ahoy! Anyway, this is a very interesting pairing. I think Everwood has a better chance of succeeding after Smallville than Jack & Bobby did.


8:00-8:30 p.m. ‘What I Like About You”
8:30-9:00 p.m. ‘TWINS”
9:00-9:30 p.m. ‘Reba”
9:30-10:00 p.m. ‘Living With Fran”


Having explored the hilarious complexities of sexuality with the wildly successful “Will & Grace, ” Emmy Award-winning producers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick bring their unique take on contemporary relationships to The WB. This time, they're targeting societal stereotypes and perceptions of brains vs. beauty with a bitingly funny comedy about twin sisters. Mitchee (Sara Gilbert, “Roseanne”) has the intelligence and the determination of a successful businesswoman. Her twin sister Farrah (Molly Stanton, “Passions”) is a stunningly perfect lingerie model. Mitchee and Farrah are about to inherit their parents' undergarment business, which gained world-renown for form-fitting inventions that make every woman look and feel like a goddess. These anything-but-identical twins are true reflections of their parents. Mitchee takes after their father, Alan (Mark Linn-Baker, “Perfect Strangers”), a brilliant designer who built the company up from nothing, while Farrah is the image of their mother, Lee (Melanie Griffith, “Working Girl”), a beautiful former lingerie model who is not a deep thinker. There are loyal staff members, especially the flamboyant Neil (Chris Fitzgerald, “Personal Velocity”) and hot new marketing exec, Jordan (Steve Braun, “True Calling, ” “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle”), but with Mitchee and Farrah in charge, this business – and this family – are going to need a lot of, um, support. From KoMut Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television Production Inc. with executive producers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick (“Will & Grace, ” “Boston Common”).

My Thoughts: If Twins works out, The WB could actually have a real comedy block on its hands. There are a lot of good people behind Twins (Mark Linn-Baker back in front of the camera!) so I hope it's funny. What I Like About You is mediocre at best but it's just really a stepping stone for Amanda Bynes to eventually do a funnier, much better show in the future. Reba is probably the most underrated sitcom on TV. It's a lot of fun. I hope Living With Fran gets better because there is the inkling of a fun show somewhere.

Overall Thoughts: I like how The WB is trying to expand its image beyond fully youth-driven fare while still trying to keep young audiences watching. However, it remains to be seen if this lineup can actually achieve what the network wants. Out of the new shows, I think Supernatural and Related have the best chance of lasting the entire season.

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