The CW is the newest network to join the primetime fray, although its lineup may seem familiar. This is because The CW is a merger of UPN and The WB. The name comes from the companies involved. CBS (who owned UPN) and Warner Bros. each own a 50% share of the new network. The consolidation of UPN and The WB has resulted in a large number of shows being cancelled. The WB's Everwood, Charmed, and Blue Collar TV along with five of the eight African-American comedies UPN aired (One On One, Half & Half, Eve, Cuts, and Love Inc.) did not make the cut. However, two fan favorites from The WB, Reba and 7th Heaven, both were given last-minute reprieves. Reba will air in midseason. 7th Heaven, which aired its "series finale" in May, is returning in the fall. With a slate that features the best of the networks that preceded it, will The CW be able to make a splash and play with their bigger competitors?
(All times are Eastern. New shows are in bold.)
8-9 p.m.: 7th Heaven
9-10 p.m.: Runaway
From The CW's Press Release:
9:00-10:00 P.M. RUNAWAY (NEW DRAMA) The Raders look like a normal middle-class American family, with a dad, Paul Rader, his lovely wife Lily, teenagers Henry and Hannah and 8-year-old Tommy. Those are their real names, but as they struggle to blend into a new life in Bridgewater, Iowa, they are all using secret identities. This family is on the run, hiding from the legal system that unjustly accused Paul Radar of a terrible and violent crime. Adding to the danger, the real killer is now threatening the lives of the Rader children. As Paul works to protect his loved ones and uncover the evidence that will clear him, he lives with the daily fear that someone will accidentally reveal the family's dark secret in RUNAWAY, The CW's new one-hour drama. RUNAWAY stars Donnie Wahlberg as Paul Rader, Leslie Hope as Lily Rader, Dustin Milligan as Henry Rader, Sarah Ramos as Hannah Rader, Nathan Gamble as Tommy Rader, Susan Floyd as Gina Bennett, Karen LeBlanc as Angela Huntley. RUNAWAY is from Sony Pictures Television, Darren Star Productions and Golly Inc. with executive producers Darren Star (Sex and the City, Melrose Place, Beverly Hills, 90210) and Ed Zuckerman (Law & Order), creator/co-executive producer Chad Hodge and co-executive producer Susie Fitzgerald.
My Thoughts: It's rare for a show to air a series finale then suddenly come back the next season. You have to go back to the 1980's and Magnum, P.I. for a comparable example to what happened to 7th Heaven. Many who did not watch the show are probably wondering why it was resurrected. Quite simply, it got too many viewers for it to disappear. The show was The WB's biggest overall draw last season with an average of 5.66 million viewers each week. The "series finale" drew more than 7 million viewers when it aired. Even if it is reportedly an expensive proposition for The CW, this new network needs shows like 7th Heaven to help it through its inaugural season. This is probably also the reason why The CW decided to use 7th Heaven as the lead-in for Runaway, one of only two new shows that The CW will be airing this fall. The show has an interesting, high-concept premise and is certainly an interesting companion for 7th Heaven.
8-9 p.m.: Gilmore Girls
9-10 p.m.: Veronica Mars
My Thoughts: When The CW was first announced, I think that just about everyone assumed that this pairing was a no-brainer. These two are critically acclaimed, female-driven shows with loyal fanbases. However, Gilmore Girls has lost its core creative team of creator/writer/executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband, writer/executive producer Dan Palladino. As we've seen in recent shows such as NBC's The West Wing and ABC's Commander-In-Chief, the quality of a show can dip dramatically when its creators leave. Will the same fate befall Gilmore Girls?
8-9 p.m.: America's Next Top Model
9-10p.m.: One Tree Hill
My Thoughts: I think putting these two shows together is a good idea. Both of these shows draw a large amount of younger female viewers and they seem like a good fit together. One Tree Hill pulled out all the stops for its season finale (mostly because of the uncertainty surrounding its return). It may be hard for the show to remain fresh after that.
8-9 p.m.: Smallville
9-10 p.m.: Supernatural
My Thoughts: This is one of only two nights on The CW's schedule that remains completely unchanged from one of the previous networks. Supernatural is the only show that premiered on The WB last season to make the jump to The CW. This combination of genre shows with appealing male leads did pretty well last season for The WB and will probably continue to do so.
8-10 p.m.: Friday Night Smackdown!
My Thoughts: This is the other night that remains unchanged from one of the previous networks' schedules. Friday night is not exactly the most competitive night, so it's good to have some stability here
8-10 p.m.: Local Programming
My Thoughts: The CW, like UPN and The WB before it, does not air any original programming on Saturday nights. Considering that the other networks pretty much air either reruns or sports, it doesn't need to.
7-7:30 p.m.: Everybody Hates Chris
7:30-8 p.m.: All Of Us
8-8:30 p.m.: Girlfriends
8:30-9 p.m.: The Game
9-10 p.m.: America's Next Top Model (Encore Presentation)
From The CW's Press Release:
8:30-9:00 PM THE GAME (NEW COMEDY)
Being the wife or girlfriend of a pro-football player might sound like a glamorous and stress-free existence, but Melanie Barnett is about to discover the truth. Melanies boyfriend, Derwin, is the new third-string wide receiver for the San Diego Sabers. While Derwin worries about the plays on the field, Melanie learns about the power plays that NFL wives use to get their men the best agents, managers, endorsements, merchandising deals and even the in charity. As she deals with egos, groupies and image consultants, Melanie is finding out how THE GAME is played among the women behind the athletes. THE GAME stars Aldis Hodge as Derwin, Coby Bell as Jason, Tia Mowry as Melanie, Hosea Chanchez as Malik, and Wendy Raquel Robinson as Tasha. THE GAME is from Happy Camper productions and Grammnet Productions in association with CBS Paramount Network Television with executive producers Kelsey Grammer (Frasier, Girlfriends, Medium), Mara Brock-Akil (Girlfriends, Moesha, The Jamie Foxx Show) and Steve Stark (Medium, The In-Laws).
My Thoughts: In an interesting move, The CW decided to move the remaining comedies from UPN to Sundays. This harkens back to the early days of The WB where African-American-driven comedies like Sister Sister and The Parent Hood were shown on Sundays. The hit Everybody Hates Chris leads off the block of comedies and is the only show that premiered on UPN last season to make it to The CW. Everybody Hates Chris and All Of Us make a family-friendly hour of programming while Girlfriends and its spinoff The Game (whose pilot was aired as a Girlfriends episode last season) court women. Everybody Hates Chris may do better in a less competitive slot and fans of All Of Us and Girlfriends will probably follow the shows to Sunday.
As recently mentioned by Blogcritic Matthew Milam, it looks like Girlfriends will be without actress Jill Marie Jones. Jill's character was a major part of Girlfriends last season and has been on the show from the beginning. Major story arcs revolved around her character Toni attempting to get custody of her child and her fractured relationship with Tracie Ellis Ross's character Joan. The CW's press release about their 2006-2007 lineup makes no mention of Jill Marie Jones being part of the cast of Girlfriends. The loss of one of its original cast members could possibly affect the show negatively next season.
Overall: The CW's inaugural fall schedule is mostly a success. Many of the better shows were kept and some dream pairings were made. Some viewers will be left reeling due to the loss of their favorite shows. Many TV fans and critics are mourning the loss of Everwood. Many African-American viewers are angry about the cancellation of many of UPN's comedies, especially since both UPN and The WB catered to African-Americans to keep their networks afloat when they first premiered. There is also the fear that the network will eventually abandon African-American audiences in the way that FOX and The WB did previously. Despite these concerns, The CW looks promising. As FOX starts to attract a more mature audience with shows like House, The CW seems pretty committed to attracting the same type of young audience that helped make FOX a success. By combining instead of cannibalizing each others' audiences, CBS and Warner Bros.' joint venture should do pretty well.