TV Upfronts: The CW's Fall Schedule Tries to Anchor a Third Night (Analysis)
Leaving only "Arrow" and "The Vampire Diaries" in their current slots, the network opens Tuesdays with recognizable spinoff "The Originals" and goes in the opposite direction of genre on Fridays.
The 2012-13 season saw the CW put a second flower in its cap with Arrow. Its strongest freshman performer, the drama now ranks behind only The Vampire Diaries in the network ratings rankings. And for that very good reason, it joins The Vampire Diaries in being one of only two series not to get shuffled in the network's significantly rejiggered fall schedule.
Attempting to bring Arrow-esque success to Tuesdays next season, and give the CW a third dependable night in the process, is The Originals. The quickly greenlit Vampire Diaries spinoff with built-in brand appeal is the network's best bet for an immediate audience. So instead of partnering it with its parent series on Thursday, it will open without training wheels at 8 p.m.
Supernatural, the network's lone WB holdover, will follow The Originals at 9 p.m. It's the series' third move in as many years, but its somewhat remarkable consistency eight seasons in means the network doesn't have to worry much about where it lands. (There were several nights last year when it even beat its Arrow lead-in.)
Arrow's solid Wednesday start will be used to propel Tomorrow People. A production from two of the network's heaviest hitters, Arrow ep Greg Berlanti and Vampire Diaries ep Julie Plec, the sci-fi effort is a more natural fit with Arrow than the other fall debuts.
The golden hour on the CW remains 9 p.m. on Thursdays. And that's where the hefty Vampire Diaries lead-in will attempt to launch bold period piece Reign. The time slot, the best starting point the network has to offer, has yet to produce a hit anywhere nearly as strong as its neighbor. The Secret Circle was axed in the slot after just one season, and though it didn't rate much better, Beauty and the Beast recently earned a renewal.
As for Beauty and the Beast, it was destined to migrate on the calendar. Instead, it heads to Monday where it joins similarly soft-but-steady Hart of Dixie. The Rachel Bilson dramedy, which debuted on the same night in 2011, has landed in the 8 p.m. hour -- with Beauty and the Beast following at 9 p.m. The duo work for the CW, though neither series, however consistent, could have launched a new neighbor or reaped much benefit from one of network's stronger leads.
Friday's shifts make similar sense. Gone are the genre efforts of the past. Nikita stuck it out at Friday for two seasons, the same night Supernatural once called home. Now, the network is pulling something of a 180 with the female-skewing and female-focused Carrie Diaries at 8 p.m. and America's Next Top Model returning to the night at 9 p.m.
The pairing works, but it seems Carrie might be better suited to cap off the night rather than finish it. Top Model remains one of the CW's strongest efforts, and with the network limiting the series to one cycle per season, it could return with a revived audience.