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October 4, 2015

Top TV Stories of 2006: The CW

by Richard Keller, posted Jan 8th 2007 12:31PM

The CW -- The new 5th network(Part 5 of 5) In the winter of 2006 CBS and Warner Brothers got together to create a new 5th network . . . The CW. You read right, I said 5th network. That's probably confusing you right now since you thought there were six major broadcast networks on the air last winter: ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, WB, UPN. Yes, that's true, but The CW was to do something unique to make it the 5th network. It was going to combine the programming of both the WB and UPN, eliminating those networks completely.

It sounded like a good idea at first. Take the best programming from both WB and UPN and put it on one network. No more jumping between the two networks to find the show you wanted to watch. No more confusion as to whether Veronica Mars was on WB or UPN. Plus, there was elimination of much of the mediocre crap that filled their weeknight schedules.

Like I said, it sounded like a good idea.

There were many issues with the creation of this network. First and foremost was how to deal with the WB and UPN affiliates. I mean, when the dust settled, only one would become a CW affiliate and the other would have to scramble to find weeknight programming to fill the gaps. One solution was MyNetwork, which was the brainchild of Fox. The MyNetwork concept was to air two American telenovelas six nights a week (the sixth night would be a recap of the previous week's shows). Nice idea, but one that didn't impress the viewing public that much. The ratings have been so low for MyNetwork affiliates that FOX has considered dropping the whole all-telenovela concept. If this happens, those affiliates would once again need to scramble for prime-time programming.

Another issue was what shows would come to The CW. It was safe to assume that many of the major players like Gilmore Girls, Smallville, America's Next Top Model and, heaven help us, WWE Smackdown would join the schedule. What was up in the air was whether some of the mid-level shows like Reba and critical but not ratings favorites like Everybody Hates Chris and Veronica Mars would be joining the network. All three of those shows did join the network, although Reba was in doubt at the beginning because the network didn't feel her show fit the 'hip' image it wanted to show (That, and star Reba McEntire wanted more money). What didn't join the network was the WB's Everwood, which came as a shock to many of its fans.

A third issue came from two WB shows that provided the highest ratings for the network: 7th Heaven and Gilmore Girls. The story behind 7th Heaven was quite odd. Here was a show that had been canceled by the WB. A big good-bye was given, complete with a series finale that featured everyone pregnant with twins (even Happy). Then, the executives decided to renew the series with a much reduced cast and budget. When the show returned for an 11th season last September it was a pale image of its former self, with much of the focus on Lucy Camden and her husband Kevin rather than on the rest of the Camden family. Add to that the continuing storyline of father Eric Camden's fatal heart disease and you have a 7th Heaven that is not performing very well at all this season.

The story behind Gilmore Girls was more straightforward. The creators of the show, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino, could not come to an agreement with the studio on their contracts so they up and left the show. This left a gap in the style and pacing of the show that has not returned this year with new show-runner David Rosenthal. As my brother Joel mentioned in his 'Best and Worst of 2006' list, Gilmore Girls is falling apart fast.

So, two of The CW's biggest shows are just ghosts of what they once were and could possibly not return next season. A third, Smallville, seems to have 'jumped the shark' this season and isn't as big as in previous years. As of this writing there are no new shows in development for the network. Is The CW a success? Right now it sure doesn't seem like it. However, there is plenty of season left. We will have to see if 2007 is the year for this infant network.

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Smallville and Veronica Mars are 2 of my favorite shows currently on television (along with Lost, Heroes, The Office, Entourage, and The Sopranos). I also enjoy Supernatural even though I don't catch every episode. I haven't tried most of the other CW shows mostly because I try to limit my television viewing. I have to fit in movies, games, and something called a life (meaning family, friends, work, etc.) in somewhere. Fortunately, everything I watch these days is previously recorded content from DVD, HD-DVD (Smallville season 5), or my dual tuner DVR, and so I can watch content on my own time. Because of this, I can't help but wonder how flawed the ratings are for television shows.

January 18 2007 at 10:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Add to this that one (of its only two) new series, "Runaway," was cancelled pretty early on.

I lost interest in "Smallville" early in the fourth season, but it and "Supernatural" are still bringing in (I think) at least as many viewers as they used to do. And while the ratings numbers might not always be there for "Veronica Mars," they never really were, and I think this has been its best season thus far.

But, all in all, I don't know that anything's been gained by combining them except saving everyone involved some money.

January 08 2007 at 8:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think "jumped the shark" should be omitted from the Official Blogger's Vocabulary entirely.

January 08 2007 at 7:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't watch any of their lame shows, but Everwood was this rare glimpse into goodness on network television. Great character development, strong writing... a wholesome show that didn't cheese out like 7th heaven. It IS missed and the execs in charge of that decision are idiots.

January 08 2007 at 4:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And adding insult to injury with Gilmore Girls was bookending it with that Aerie Girls crap. Fortunately those segments got shorter and shorter, but Jebus! I think that those were insulting even to their target audience!

I watch Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, and Supernatural on the CW. Ugly Betty took Smallville's slot on my Thurs nights. I'll catch Smallville on DVD.

There is a show called "The Game" on the CW that I've caught occasionally think is pretty good, but I've already got a full schedule.

January 08 2007 at 4:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with the previous posts about Smallville building towards something greater. While not every episode is up to snuff, the story arc leading to the justice league and eventually to Clark's acceptance as Superman is a necessary step in concluding the series, not 'jumping the shark.'

I am still in disbelief how Everwood was cancelled. Simply inexplicable. And the won't even release seasons 2-4 on dvd. The people in charge haven't just made a blunder with the show, they are downright mistreating the fanbase.

January 08 2007 at 3:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree in principle about "the CW", and in particular, cancelling "Everwood" and bringing back "7th Heaven" was an outrageously awful idea. Overall, in combining the networks they managed to add 1+1 and come up with about .6.

However, I don't think "Smallville" has jumped any sharks this year. I've been surprised to find the Green Arrow storyline very entertaining--more so than anything they've done with Clark Kent lately. Sure, both the actress playing Lana and the character of Lana are as annoying and one-dimensional as ever, but Chloe, Martha Kent, and even Lois are all much richer, interesting characters played by very competent actresses. Michael Rosenbaum is finally getting a chance to play Lex Luthor as a bad guy, and is doing it without the mustache-twirling evil you might expect. And John Glover continues to be a superb actor doing great work as Lionel Luthor.

"Smallville" is the only remaining show on "the CW" that I watch these days. And a few years ago, I used to watch more WB shows than anything else.

January 08 2007 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Cw is a disaster. 7th Heaven is just the shitty spinoff that the writers said they didn't want when 7th heaven was canceled. Gilmore Girls has been shit since Rory got together with Logan instead of Martan aka Nake Guy. And Smallville fell apart and lost everyone besides the geeks when they did crazy shit that doesn't make any sense to the common veiwer and had lesbian sex instead of stories.

It did take Fox 15 years to become a true network so we might be living on the Moon before The CW becomes a good network.

January 08 2007 at 2:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I disagree on your Smallville statement.
I think that the past seasons were meerly leading up to this one.
Lex is finally poised to take his position as the super evil dooer and Clark is working on the birth of what will become the Justice League.
I can't wait for the new epp this week.
But the rest you said is dead on.
The CW is in trouble.
The only shows I watch on the CW are Smallville and Supernatural.

January 08 2007 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I only watch Girlfriends, The Game (occasionaly), and ANTM on the CW. The MyTV affiliate's programming is just awful. I mean awful.

January 08 2007 at 1:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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