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October 4, 2015

CW wrap-up: Vampire Diaries, Melrose Place, Life Unexpected - TCA Report

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 4th 2009 8:28PM
Life UnexpectedThe CW's TCA panels today were full of beautiful people. It seemed like all the shows were about young pretty things in scandalous situations. Even the highly-anticipated Vampire Diaries didn't look much different, except some of the over-sexed high schoolers were vampires. But one show shined through the pretty clutter in the CW's new slate. Too bad we won't see it until early 2010.

That show is Life Unexpected, which CW programming head Dawn Ostroff described as "Juno meets Gilmore Girls." After seeing the pilot, I can agree with that description. It's sweet, warm, even a little bit hokey. In fact, it feels like a show that would have been on the old WB network. What the heck is it doing on the CW?

Life Unexpected
is about how a Portland teen named Lux drops herself into the lives of her youngish and immature parents, who gave her up so they could finish high school, and how things change due to her presence. There's a bit of a WB pedigree on the show, as co-creator Janet Leahy worked on Gilmore Girls and the other co-creator, Liz Tigelaar, worked on Dawson's Creek. Oh, and star Shiri Appleby was one of the main players on Roswell. No wonder why it feels WB-ish.

The whole panel did a nice job of charming the grumpy critics. It was especially funny when Tigelaar expressed surprise that Kris Polaha, who plays Lux's erstwhile dad Baze, wasn't as "douchey" as she thought he might be. Always good to hear "douchey" in a press session, right?

Melrose Place

Now, onto the pretty people. What can we say about Melrose that's hasn't been said already? The alumni that are currently back are Laura Leighton (who had a Sydney-esque smirk on her face the entire time), Thomas Calabro, Daphne Zuniga and Josie Bisset. Executive producer Todd Slavkin said that he talked to Grant Show -- who is in CBS' new comedy Accidentally on Purpose -- about appearing, but nothing has been finalized.

It's interesting that not many of the new genration MP-ers watched the original version, even though Slavkin thought that the show ended recently enough for even folks in their mid-20s to remember. Katie Cassidy, daughter of former pop idol David Cassidy, didn't get to watch much TV at all as a kid.

So none of them would remember the first, pre-Heather Locklear season, where the drama was nice and everyone was earnest. Asked if that model is going to be followed, Slavkin said that "Melrose Place is still the most scandalous address in West Hollywood." With a murder mystery which will dominate the first season, it's not a surprise.

Vampire Diaries

Finally, the teen vampires. People may think Vampire Diaries is a rip-off of True Blood, right down to the antebellum setting, or that it's riding the coattails of Twilight's success. But the Diaries books the show is based on predate both of them, and as executive producer Kevin Williamson states: "The premise is the same: you know, girl meets vampire. But what (author) L.J. Smith did was once you sort of you get past that premise and - but that's - when you read the first book, I was like, 'No way. This is Twilight.' But when I got to the second book, you start to realize, boy, this is a fork in the road. It really does separate. So we're getting to that fork in the road really quick."

Star Paul Wesley didn't even see Twilight after taking this role. "I don't think that it would be wise for any actor to make any judgments on their character or decisions based on anyone else," he said. "I think if there are similarities to Robert Pattinson's character in Twilight, so be it. I take the scripts that Kevin and Julie (Plec) write, and I do my honest, best portrayal."

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