Friday, May 8, 2015

2015 Upfront Questions, The CW

Part two of the upfront preview is the SCHEDULE-centric portion, examining the big-picture scheduling questions each network faces on each night in the final week before its upfront. This post tries to lay out the reasonable possibilities rather than spending a lot of time committing to one, but I am including "Spot's Answer" in each section to try to be a little clearer about where I'm leaning. They're not really "official predictions" (more like a hybrid of predictions/recommendations) but you can consider them that way if you want.

Last week's Power Rankings were the SHOW-centric portion, in which I drilled more into the merits of individual shows: CW True Power Rankings

Other Upfront Questions: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | CW


2014-15 Schedule
8:00 - The Originals
9:00 - Jane the Virgin

Question: Will a light newbie slate keep Monday intact?

Tuesday got all the hype, but Monday with Originals and Jane was quietly a significant contributor in the CW's positive year-to-year trend. Of course, this was less about these shows doing gangbusters and more about it being a Surrender Night in previous seasons. But it's still good news for the network that they had enough depth to go with a fourth night that was kinda passable.

However, the late season wasn't good to these shows. The Originals has been at 0.5 (and one 0.4), which is barely passable and with a bad year-to-year trend, while Jane the Virgin has come back down from some midseason momentum and is at a not-really-passable 0.4 in most recent weeks. Before the CW's new series orders, it was very questionable whether they could even hold onto "big eight" timeslots (Monday thru Thursday in the fall). After the pickups, could they actually hold onto these exact timeslots?

Spot's Answer: Even before the CW made its pickups, I had 'em in my personal big eight. The Originals could be the best ratings play to fill out one of the female-skewing nights. Jane gets one more shot in part for political/critical/studio reasons, and in part because of sophomore bounce upside due to awards/streaming exposure in the off-season. I'm not really a buyer in the upside, but it's not impossible. Admittedly, they were not shows I was confident about.

But if two of the three CW newbies are for midseason, they'll both be part of the big eight, and it's quite possible the CW goes stable and brings back the night intact (with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend showing up when ready).


2014-15 Schedule
8:00 - The Flash
9:00 - Supernatural | iZombie

Question: Is the CW just biding time in the post-Flash slot before another DC series arrives?

I'm not really a fan of putting a newbie in a slot where it has to move if it succeeds, but the likely midseason arrival of new DC entry Legends of Tomorrow may complicate things. Maybe Julie Plec's Cordon could start on Tuesday and shift elsewhere later, but we probably wouldn't know about it at the upfront. So let's say there are two general possibilities: 1) go Cordon on Tuesday and be fine with Legends of Tomorrow on Wednesday if necessary; or 2) ride out iZombie for another run after The Flash in the fall, planning to bump it for LoT.

Spot's Answer: I like 1. New show gets biggest lead-in for the fall, and the most recognizable characters on the DC show are Arrow alums anyway. But it also works a lot more elegantly from my perspective since I think Supernatural could be de-prioritized (previously thought to Friday, now Thursday). If I'm wrong about that, 2 is probably more likely.


2014-15 Schedule
8:00 - Arrow
9:00 - The 100 | Supernatural

Question: Will Arrow lead into a very old show, a very new show, or something in between?

Spot's Answer: This one is basically in concert with the Tuesday question, since post-Arrow and post-Flash are the best timeslots. I have to say I'd be a little surprised to see the network put returnee shows after both of its only good lead-ins, even if it's just for the fall and one of them is still very young. A lot of people have Supernatural back here, while I'd go with whichever of my two choices in the Tuesday section loses out.

(24 hours ago, I would've seriously considered putting two newbies in the two good slots, including Tales of the Darkside. But Tales is dunzo.)


2014-15 Schedule
8:00 - The Vampire Diaries
9:00 - Reign

Question: What can the CW pair with an already fading The Vampire Diaries that is losing its lead actress?

Spot's Answer: The answer should be nothing with any upside. Putting iZombie or Jane or a newbie at 9/8c after TVD and up against quite possibly three big four dramas might even be more harsh than moving it to Friday. The new-ish show at 8/7c might be better, but not by much. The only Thursday choices I'd really be behind would be (my pre-pickups vote) compatible choice The Originals or (my post-pickups vote) Supernatural.


2014-15 Schedule
8:00 - Whose Line Is It Anyway? | Hart of Dixie | Cedric's Barber Battle
9:00 - America's Next Top Model | Masters of Illusion | The Messengers

Question: Will a "big eight" contender end up on Friday in the fall?

We talked a lot about "worthiness" for those prized Monday to Thursday slots last week. Especially in light of recent developments, it's a waste of time to rehash that. The discussion assumed that there would be two newbies and six returnees in the big eight timeslots with the seventh contender on Friday. It assumed that because it was the most interesting way to talk about individual shows' merit. But there are a couple other possibilities that don't make those assumptions, and one of them now seems pretty likely to happen.

1. Only one newbie in the fall. On a network that tends to fade a lot over the course of a season, I don't like having so little new material out of the gate. But the network is light on newbies by its standards, so I'm bracing for it. Legends of Tomorrow has long been pegged as a midseason launch and Deadline says Crazy Ex-Girlfriend must "undergo extensive redevelopment," so the fall may not be likely there either.

2. The seventh returnee is held for midseason. The only one of the big eight contenders I could see doing this with is iZombie, and it looks more possible after a couple modest results lately. Still, it's basically a procedural and that means it should be able to churn out episodes and could have a kernel of hope at syndication in the more traditional sense. This isn't The 100, so avoid locking it into 13 per year right now. Maybe the CW is somehow even more down than I am on Supernatural or one of the vampire shows and just gives it a 13-episode final season. But that's about the only other thing I could possibly imagine.

Spot's Answer: I was way out on an island saying Supernatural to Friday, and you can revisit last week's post for more on why. Jane or The Originals could easily be justified as well. But the CW's pickups seemingly make it most likely they'll go with only one fall newbie and not have to make the tough decision. Unless they can churn Crazy Ex or Legends out more quickly, the big eight will be the top seven returnees plus Cordon.

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