Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fall TV Preview: The CW

The CW Fall 2012 Schedule

The CW has three new dramas premiering this season, perfectly reflecting their youthful demo and perfectly complementary to their current line-up of shows.  With shows frequently set with one foot in the beyond and one in the real world, the CW is able to cast a smaller net but often with greater accuracy.  Though they come nowhere near getting the kinds of numbers than the other networks often attain -- but not always, we must remember -- the CW knows its audience well.

Tuesdays at 9pm the CW premieres Emily Owens, M.D., starring Meryl Streep's daughter Mamie Gummer (The Good Wife, The Big C) as the title character, a young woman newly graduated from medical school who is interning at a Denver hospital alongside several of her friends and enemies.  Emily quickly learns that life at the hospital is a lot like high school, with all its attendant cliques, rivalries, romances, secrets, lies and like that.  Dr. Emily is surrounded by an interesting circle of colleagues, including her actual former high school rival played by Aja Naomi King (Blue Bloods), her med school crush played by Justin Hartley (Smallville, Passions), a friendly intern played by Kelly McCreary (White Collar) who's a closeted gay woman and also happens to be the daughter of the Chief Resident played by Harry Lennix (Ray, Dollhouse, Little Britain USA, 24).  Emily's cardiac surgeon role model is played by Necar Zadegan (The Event, 24), and her other doctor pal on the staff is played by Michael Rady (The Mentalist, House of Lies, Melrose Place, Swingtown, Sleeper Cell).

If the young women watching the CW want a medical soap opera of their own -- the younger version of ER or Grey's Anatomy -- then Emily Owens, M.D. will be the perfect prescription.  We know that part of the appeal of medical dramas is the heightened sense of drama with lives on the line and enormous medical bills being piled up every second, but the main appeal, to be sure, is the white coat and scrubs uniform fetish that gets played out on these shows.  Whatever works, right?  Whether Gummer and associates end up looking like real docs or just kids playing Halloween dress-up remains to be seen.  Emily Owens, M.D. premieres on 10/16/12 at 9pm on the CW.

Wednesday night at 8pm brings the comic book superhero The Arrow to the CW.  The story of a pampered young billionaire who's lost at sea but later mysteriously turns up alive, is returned to civilization and turns into a secret vigilante against crime. The Arrow stars Stephen Amell (Heartland, Private Practice, Hung) in the title role, with James Ramsey (Dexter, Outlaw,Blue Bloods) playing his chauffeur and confidante.  Colin Donnell (Pan Am) co-stars as The Arrow's best friend, Katie Cassidy (Supernatural, Gossip Girl, Melrose Place, Harper's Island, and she's David Cassidy's daughter) is his ex-girlfriend for whom he still holds a torch.  Willa Holland (The O.C., Gossip Girl) is The Arrow's little sister, and Susanna Thompson (Cold Case, Kings, NCIS) is his mother, an ambitious woman whose present is even more dastardly than anyone guesses.  Paul Blackthorne (The River, The Gates, Lipstick Jungle, 24, Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India) is The Arrow's resident skeptic, a hard-nosed police detective who's determined to get to the bottom of what's up with the new secret crimefighter in his city, and he also just happens to be the girlfriend's father.  What a tangled web we weave....

Perhaps the best thing about The Arrow is that it gives the CW a terrific Wednesday night, with its long-running and always outstanding series Supernatural following in the 9pm time period.  The CW often knows how to get it right with series with fantastic elements, from their current hits to way back with the network's progenitor the WB and its history-making Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The Arrow is a perfect companion piece to Supernatural and we wish the network luck with this great twosome.  The Arrow premieres Wednesday, 10/10/12 at 8pm.

Thursdays at 9pm is the home for the CW's new Beauty and the Beast, a sort-of reboot of the 1980's cult favorite series of the same name.  While the original was famous for Ron Perlman's fantastic leonine look as Vincent, a beast-like man/creature (cause known) who lived underground with a mostly genteel bunch of society's drop-outs, this newest take has its Vincent as more of a Hulk character.  This Vincent, played by New Zealander Jay Ryan (Terra Nova, Young Hercules, Xena: Warrior Princess) is a former military doctor who has been living in hiding after being stricken with a condition that causes him to gain superhuman strength when enraged.  Totally Hulk, right?  Catherine Chandler, played by Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) is a homicide detective -- the 1980s Catherine worked in the D.A.'s office -- and her police partner is played by Nina Lisandrello (Nurse Jackie, Law & Order).  Football player-turned-banker-turned-actor Brian White (The Cabin in the Woods, The Shield, Moonlight) is their boss, Brit Max Brown (The Tudors) plays the flirty medical examiner, and Nicole Gale Anderson (Jonas) is Catherine's little sister.  Austin Basis (Life Unexpected) plays Vincent's childhood friend and only confidante.  

The twist here is that Catherine eventually figures out that a decade ago Vincent saved her life during an gun battle in which her mother died.  She didn't know what or who had rescued her then, but there's a bond between Vincent and Catherine that is inexplicable and unbreakable.  Question -- did the CW think that audiences today wouldn't accept a Vincent that was mostly beast and not conventionally handsome?  Maybe the CW demo doesn't like its heroes to be facially-challenged; the decision to nix the ugly in the beast's make-up job feels like pulling your punches, but the network seems to understand their audience so perhaps this was the best way to go.  In any case, Beauty and the Beast has a compatible lead-in with the successful The Vampire Diaries and there's no reason why viewers who watch that series would want to turn away from this one.  (There was a second Beauty and the Beast project that almost made it to ABC this season, too.)  Beauty and the Beast premieres on Thursday, 10/11/12, at 9pm.

That does it for our Fall Preview for the major broadcast networks.  There are many mid-season entries also coming up, but we'll catch them as they premiere throughout the season.  

Happy Viewing!

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