Tuned In

The CW: Don't Cha Wish Your Network Was Hot Like Me?

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To get into the CW upfront at Madison Square Garden, you walk through the “trend bar,” where waiters stand around with heaping trays of mini muffins and giant, CW-green-and-white posters announce the trends that the hip CW advertiser should be aware of. Not surprisingly, they are pretty much entirely about social technology and the environment. In the future, everybody will be trading carbon offsets on MySpace.

Speaking of recycling, CW used the stars of its newest reality hit as onstage entertainment, as the Pussycat Dolls kicked off the show performing with their newest member, courtesy of The Search for the Next Doll. (What do they do next season, when the show returns and they pick yet another? Kick out the one with the highest percentage of body fat?) The gyrating Dolls invite the “girls” in the executive audience to sing along. Don’t cha wish your media buyer was a freak like me?

Last year, the brand-new merged CW network announced only a couple of new shows. This year, on a stage flanked by oblong glowing video displays that look like iPhones, CW entertainment president Dawn Ostroff announced several. Let’s get it out of the way: Veronica Mars was one of the shows dumped to make room. And you can flame me for it, but I’m sad but not outraged. I’d rather see Veronica on air than One Tree Hill, or Pussycat Dolls Present, or pretty much anything on the CW–but it had its chance. (Not an ideal chance, but come on, what low-rated, quirky series does?) I loved VM its first season; I liked it its second and third; but I can’t say it was robbed.

So go ahead and jump me in the comments: I’m glad to provide an outlet. Now, on to the new shows:

GOSSIP GIRL: Josh Schwartz (The O.C.) gets his second new show of the season with this adaptation of the chick-lit series about a Manhattan tabloid website entrepreneur. She refers to herself in the third person a lot, which Tuned In would never do. Looks very soapy, very envy-licious, very CW-appropriate, though I don’t sense The O.C.’s sense of humor from the trailer. Could it be the Central Park West of the 21st century?

CW NOW: “The ultimate source for current trends,” this looks to be the celebrity / pop culture noozemag for 18-to-34s who want something a little less intellectual than Access Hollywood. Also, from the marketing head’s presentation, it will basically be full of product placements. Yay!

ONLINE NATION: A weekly half-hour collection of the latest viral videos. Despite the stupid name (actually, maybe I should make sure TIME never used it as a cover-story title before I say that), this I’d actually watch. But then I’m 38, so I don’t know if that’s a good sign for the CW. Does the demo need a dinosaur-era TV show to find their videos?

LIFE IS WILD: This drama is shot entirely in Africa, which makes me think it should perhaps be called, Overseas Production Is Dirt Cheap. A family series in which a widowed and remarried dad moves his troubled family to South Africa. There’s bonding, emotional uplift and lots of wildebeest.

FARMER WANTS A WIFE: Reality show. Exactly what you think.

CROWNED: Reality show about a mother-daughter beauty pageant. The Amazing Race with tiaras and self-tanner? Adults desperately latching on to their nubile daughters’ youth? I am so totally watching this.

ALIENS IN AMERICA: A “fish out of water” sitcom about an outcast teen whose mother imports a Pakistani exchange student to befriend him. Definitely a bit creepy, probably offensive, but the funniest sitcom trailer I’ve seen all week. Also, the trailer uses Belle and Sebastian’s The Blues Are Still Blue, so bonus points.

REAPER: A 21-year-old discovers that, before he was born, his parents sold his soul to the devil. On his birthday, the Devil comes to collect, recruiting him as a bounty hunter, bringing escaped souls back to Hell. I’m not saying this is the next Buffy, but the series (co-produced by Kevin Smith) looks like the kind of funny, whimsical drama the WB/UPN/CW hasn’t done since… oh, right, Veronica Mars. Sorry to have to remind you.