As a network created specifically to target a younger demographic, the CW has always mirrored current trends in entertainment. This season, the network moves away from its signature teen sex soaps to a greater emphasis on science-fiction, fantasy, and horror.
Recently, the first episodes of new fall series on each broadcast network were shown at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles. This post examines the new fall 2013 shows on the CW.
Tuesdays, 8:00 p.m. ET
Premieres: October 3
Now preceding the long-running CW adventure/horror series Supernatural on Tuesday nights, The Originals follows in the footsteps of such popular series as Twilight in a complex, horror-themed soap opera about the clash of various supernatural creatures in New Orleans. Klaus, a hybrid vampire/werewolf, was a founder and one-time ruler of the city, but has long been absent. Lured back by news of a plot against him, Klaus finds the city now ruled by his vampiric former protégé, Marcel. Thwarted in his attempt to learn more about the plot, Klaus allies with his sinister, power-crazed vampire brother, Elijah; his former lover, werewolf Hayley, who is carrying Klaus’ unborn child; and Sophie Devereaux, who is leading a rebellion of the city’s witches against Marcel’s tyrannical rule. Together, the alliance of vampires, werewolves, witches, and humans scheme to overthrow Marcel – but which faction will retain power afterwards?
Dominated by its large cast of characters and convoluted plot, The Originals also features some scenes of brief but graphic and bloody violence typical of the horror genre, such as vampires slashing people’s throats, being impaled, skewered on swords, and the like. As a result the show is not recommended for children; but it will likely be a hit with audiences of similar shows like The Vampire Diaries.
The Tomorrow People
Wednesdays, 9:00 p.m. ET
Premieres: October 9
A “reimagining” of the 1970s British children’s science-fiction program of the same name (which aired in this country on Nickelodeon in the 1980s), this series centers on Stephen Jameson, a troubled teen whom everyone around him believes is suffering from mental problems, as did his father. Stephen doesn’t realize that his problems are a side-effect of his “breaking out” – manifesting the psychic powers which make him the next step in mankind’s evolution. Stephen is contacted by other “tomorrow people” who have banded together for protection, including leader John, smart-alec Russell, and the beautiful Cara, who has an unexplained psychic link with Stephen. The psychics are hunted by Dr. Jedekiah Price, leader of the government group ULTRA, who seeks to enslave or exterminate them. But both Price and the “tomorrow people” have a special interest in Stephen: the others believe Stephen’s long-missing father was the greatest of their kind, and may have established a sanctuary for them, while Price is revealed to be Stephen’s uncle, and wants to control him for his own reasons.
Like Doctor Who, The Tomorrow People is an updating of a British sci-fi series which is likely to gain tremendous popularity with today’s youngsters. The first episode contained no sex (though Stephen is frequently shirtless), and only a few intense fistfights, though Price’s murder of other “tomorrow people” is implied. One nice touch, faithful to the original series, is the fact that despite their tremendous powers, the “tomorrow people” are incapable of killing. As series executive producer Phil Klemmer noted at a Paley Center panel, “At first, the network didn’t like it, but then Sandy Hook happened…If the next stage in human evolution can’t kill, that’s a beautiful message.”
Preceded by the superhero program Arrow (like The Tomorrow People, produced by Greg Berlanti), the program promises a relatively clean, action- and fantasy-filled Wednesday night for viewers.
Thursdays, 9:00 p.m. ET
Premieres: October 17
A romanticized and historically inaccurate retelling of the early life of Mary, Queen of Scots, Reign is likely intended to appeal to female fans of “bodice-ripping” romance novels and the HBO series Game of Thrones with its mixture of a strong female protagonist, court intrigue, and costume drama. The series’ first episode finds young adult Mary, who has grown up in exile from Scotland in a French convent, arriving at the French court preparatory to her marriage to the heir to the throne, Francis. Though delighted to be reunited with her four close friends Green, Kenna, Lola, and Aylee, young Scottish women who serve as her handmaids, Mary is unprepared for the attitudes which greet her at court. The French king is indifferent to her and is in no hurry to see his son married, while Francis himself, though attracted to Mary, realizes that any love they may share is beside the point: his marriage must serve the interests of French politics, not his own feelings. And Mary is hated by the French queen, Catherine de’Medici, who has been told by the seer Nostradamus that marriage to Mary will end Francis’ life. Also caught up in the plotting against Mary is Francis’ lustful, illegitimate half-brother Sebastian, who has his own plans regarding Mary.
Though the first episode was largely inoffensive, it did feature several brief scenes of bloody violence, as well as a sequence in which Mary and her maids watch “the consummation,” a custom during which members of the court observe the French princess’ wedding-night sex with her new husband (thus proving to all concerned that the couple did consummate their marriage). The sex is shown through gauzy bed curtains, so stimulating one of the maids that she rushes out of the room and graphically masturbates on a stairway. As with The Originals, the first episode was largely focused on establishing the show’s premise, setting, characters, and plot, so future episodes may contain more graphic content.