The CW took the wraps off of its 2013-14 primetime schedule on Thursday morning, marking the final day of the broadcast network upfronts.
Among the changes afoot at the nearly seven-year old network: Hart of Dixie and Beauty and the Beast are moving to Mondays, Supernatural moves to Tuesdays, and The Carrie Diaries gets pushed to Fridays at 8 p.m. Nikita, which will have its final season of a six episodes, will be held until midseason. The network ordered five new dramas for next season, which will be scattered throughout Tuesdays (The Vampire Diaries spin-off The Originals), Wednesdays (The Tomorrow People), and Thursdays (period drama Reign) when The CW begins its fall season in October. Two additional dramas—Star-Crossed and The 100—will be held until midseason along with newly ordered reality show Famous in 12; their timeslots are still to be determined.
President Mark Pedowitz spoke to reporters after the The CW's upfront presentation on Thursday afternoon. Asked to reveal why he had ordered these five particular pilots to series, Pedowitz was blunt: “We developed a number of shows for pilots. These are our best pilots. You have to make noise these days.”
“We love all our children equally," said Pedowitz when asked by a reporter to choose his favorite pilot this year. “You pick the best shows, you do it from viewing, from research, from your gut. You do it from watching the pilot and seeing if there are 100 episodes there. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong. But that’s the nature of the business we’re in.”
Asked about the six-episode final series order for Nikita, Pedowitz said, “We felt that six episodes was the way to go… We wanted to give the fans a conclusion.” Nikita will be "used later in the fall," said Pedowitz, who added that production on the fourth and final season "begins in late July/mid-August."
The Selection is now not moving forward at The CW after two attempts to bring it to series. It's "unlikely that we’ll revisit it. It was a terrific pilot this year, but it's a matter of numbers…. This pilot they came pretty close."
As for Amazon, The CW's take on Wonder Woman, the project is still very much alive: “Oh, god, yes. It is being redeveloped. We’re waiting for the script to come in. We have not seen it yet… We will prepare the pilot off-cycle if the script is what we want it to be. We do not want to produce something that doesn't work for that particular character. It is the trickiest of all the DC characters to get [right].” Unfortunately, writer Allan Heinberg is no longer the writer on Amazon, though Pedowitz wouldn’t name the new writer who had come on board the potential Wonder Woman prequel project. (The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that the new writer is Aron Eli Coleite.)
The episodic order for Season 2 of The Carrie Diaries is 13: "Carrie was a midseason show so the obligation was only 13," said Pedowitz.
He also touted reality show Famous in 12, which will turn up on the schedule at a later point. "It will be a docusoap," he said. We will be working in conjunction with TMZ and Harvey, who is very passionate about it." But don't think that it means that The CW will begin to order a slew of unscripted programs: "We believe in our scripted programming," Pedowitz said. "We believe it’s a better way to go, but if it’s the right reality show, we will put it on."
As for comedy, this summer’s revival of "Whose Line is a way to get back into the comedy business," he said. "If it works, we’ll put it on during the season."
“We had a terrific season last year, growing our audience on-air, digitally and socially," said The CW President Mark Pedowitz in a statement. "Now we are building on that success by continuing to add more original programming all year long, and by adding high-concept, exciting shows to our schedule that will help us continue our mission of broadening out our 18-to-34-year old audience. Arrow was one of the breakout hits of this season, and we’re using that show and The Vampire Diaries, our two highest-rated series, to launch our new dramas The Tomorrow People and Reign, on Wednesday and Thursday nights."
“Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah, the original family of vampires, have become fan favorites over the past three seasons on The Vampire Diaries, and we know viewers will be excited to see more of their story in their new spin-off series, The Originals on Tuesday nights," he continued. "And with Star-Crossed and The 100 set for midseason, The CW is poised to keep growing and keep our momentum going.”
The CW's fall primetime schedule can be found below, along with video trailers and further comments from Mark Pedowitz.
The CW Primetime 2013-14 Schedule
8-9:00 p.m.: Hart of Dixie (New Night)
9-10 p.m.: Beauty and the Beast (New Night)
8-9 p.m.: The Originals (New Series)
9-10 p.m.: Supernatural (New Night)
8-9 p.m.: Arrow
9-10 p.m.: The Tomorrow People (New Series)
The Tomorrow People is a revival of BBC series that was remade in the 1990s for Nickelodeon, and apparently was Greg Berlanti and Julie Plec’s favorite show in college, though Pedowitz admitted, “god knows what they were doing in college watching this.” He added: “When Greg and Julie are passionate about something, you do it. And that was the rationale behind it.”
8-9 p.m.: The Vampire Diaries
9-10 p.m.: Reign (New Series)
So why didn't The CW opt to put The Originals behind The Vampire Diaries? “Reign is spectacular," said Pedowitz. "The Vampire Diaries has our biggest concentration of women. We do believe Reign majorly appeals to women and we wanted to give that show the best shot of women coming to find it. It didn’t work behind Arrow. And we felt that Wednesdays behind The Vampire Diaries made the most sense.”
8-9:00 p.m.: The Carrie Diaries (New Night)
9-10 p.m.: America's Next Top Model
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what to make of this schedule. Given the limited real estate at the network (only 10 hours to program), it's shocking that nearly every show (except two, in fact!) has been given a new timeslot next season. It's the very opposite of CBS's stability: every single night of the week has been altered in some way. Perhaps this will allow The CW to make some dramatic increases, but right now it just reads as change for the sake of change.
Yes, I think it's wise that The CW will give six episodes to Nikita to wrap up its multiple-season narrative, but other than that, there are a lot of headscratchers here, in terms of the pairings. Are Hart of Dixie and Beauty and the Beast really all that compatible? Why lead off Tuesdays with new entry The Originals instead of pairing it with its predecessor, The Vampire Diaries? Is it intentional that the Amell boys are together leading the network's Wednesday night lineup? The Carrie Diaries on Fridays? Really?
I don't think there's much analysis to be done here. Either the changes will help the struggling netlet or they won't. But offering blocks of two dramas that don't really seem all that compatible seems odd, even if The CW doesn't have a lot of spots to put their shows.
With three new shows for midseason (two dramas and one reality show), plus the six-episode final season of Nikita, the network will have some safety in knowing that they have some backup should their fall launches fail to find its footing.