You've got to hand it to The CW: It knows how to keep an upfront moving. From kicking it off with a performance by Flo Rida to just jumping right to a preview of its most interesting new series, "Arrow," it flew by faster than any other network presentation this week. Sure, it spent time discussing social media and whatnot, but it was all broken up by onstage appearances by the very beautiful people who are on the shows. And hey, most of the upcoming shows look watchable, if not legitimately entertaining, and since they're recycling a ton of their talent (and in some cases, characters), we feel like we know these programs already.
'Arrow' (Wednesdays at 8 PM)
It's a show about the DC Comics hero Green Arrow, but it doesn't star the "Smallville" Green Arrow, Justin Hartley (he has another CW gig), nor does it refer to him as "Green." This Oliver Queen comes in the chiseled form of Stephen Amell, who plays a young billionaire who was presumed dead for years after being shipwrecked. He comes back to the world, does some CrossFit workouts in an industrial warehouse, and gets into action as a bow-slinging vigilante. Katie Cassidy ("Melrose Place") is his ex-girlfriend, and Willa Holland ("Gossip Girl") is his sister. It has a great, gritty, adult feel that immediately sets it apart from "Smallville." And since "The Avengers" left us wanting more Hawkeye, this straight arrow may just hit the bull's-eye this fall.
[Photos: The CW's New 2012-2013 Shows]
'Beauty and the Beast' (Thursdays at 9 PM)
Kristen Kreuk ("Smallville") provides this fairy tale update with the beauty, as an NYPD cop (yes, really) who is still hung up on the murder of her mother nine years ago. She was with her mom but was saved by a shadowy creature. Jay Ryan is the beast who looks like a model, except for a facial scar. When he gets angry, his eyes bulge and his veins pop -- because he had been used by the military as a test subject for some experimental supersoldier drug. He's more like the Hulk (with a dash of Wolverine or Sabretooth) than the Beast of yore. Based on the trailer, it all looks very CW, with tiny Kreuk taking down three armed baddies as well as attempting to outrun a subway train, while flirting with an attractive man who turns into a monster on occasion. It's probably a good fit with "The Vampire Diaries," though it would be surprising if this show delivers the captivating twists and turns of "TVD" since it seems more procedural than anything else.
'Emily Owen, M.D.' (Tuesdays at 9 PM)
Here's another CW show about a surgeon who has trouble fitting in, but at least this one doesn't wear shorts to work. Instead, Emily (Mamie Gummer of "Off the Map" and "The Good Wife") is a first-year intern at a Denver hospital who is desperate to prove herself, but she's haunted by her high school nemesis (also a doctor) and her old nickname "Pits" (because of some sweat gland issues). Justin Hartley got himself a consolation gig as a fellow doctor and Emily's crush du jour, while Michael Rady ("Melrose Place") is a resident who befriends her. It's like an awkward, less gross "Grey's Anatomy" with a lighter, but not full-out, comedic tone. It looks like it could be a fun, mindless watch, but certainly not a great medical drama.
'The Carrie Diaries' (Midseason)
It's a prequel to "Sex and the City" starring AnnaSophia Robb as a young Carrie Bradshaw (the show is set in 1984), who hangs out with the oddballs instead of the popular girls and is grieving the recent loss of her mother. So her father (Matt Letscher) sets her up with an internship in Manhattan, where she meets the likes of "Interview" writer Larissa (Freema Agyeman) and begins her fashionista-filled city life. But she has to juggle it with high school and her crush on new boy Sebastian (Austin Butler of "Life Unexpected" and "Switched at Birth"). It's remarkably similar to the plot of "Jane by Design," but this one is purposefully '80s. And while we thought that a geeky '80s version of Carrie might resemble Patty Greene from "Square Pegs," Robb is probably a more CW-friendly choice. It looks fun, but without the melodramatic, soapy deliriousness of "Gossip Girl," which it will replace when that show ends its run by midseason.
This show sounds massively confusing, though it could be compelling because it stars Alaric and T-Bag. It's about a scripted TV show about cult leader Billy Grimm (Robert Knepper from "Prison Break") and detective Kelly Collins (Alona Tal of "Supernatural"), whose devotees are taking the show seriously. And Jeff Sefton's (Matt Davis of "Vampire Diaries") brother somehow gets caught up in the mania. In the footage we saw, it seemed like Grimm was a real dude and may be behind a real-life rash of grisly crimes and that his show was somehow recruiting people. Because the teaser lasted only a couple of minutes, it's not surprising that the show-within-a-show concept was hard to convey clearly. But if it's this incomprehensible once it makes it on air, it will be in the running for most baffling show on TV alongside Fox's "Zero Hour."
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