Fall TV 2013: 'Tomorrow People,' 'Reign,' 'Originals' and more CW drama snap judgments
Sci-fi and fantasy mixed with an occasional period drama represent the new world order at CW (no "Emily Owens, M.D." this season), which was the only broadcast network to completely revamp its schedule for fall.
Audiences have already had a peek at one of the newbies -- "Vampire Diaries" spinoff "The Originals" aired as a backdoor pilot in April -- while another is a remake of a cult favorite and yet another is based on a young adult book series.
Here's a rundown of the five new dramas The CW presented to advertisers at its 2013 upfront on May 16 at New York City Center.
The only spinoff to make it onto the fall schedule (attempts to develop spinoffs of "The Office" and "NCIS: LA" went up in flames), "The Originals" hopes to lure the established audience of "Vampire Diaries" to Tuesday nights (and maybe counter-program "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" in the process), while a fresh start gives the show a chance to find viewers not already hooked on "Diaries." This feels like the right show at the right time and a smart play for CW.
While viewers have already been introduced to "The Originals," they haven't yet met Davina (series regular Danielle Campbell), a 16-year-old witch seen in flashes in the upfront trailer. Her incredible powers are Marcel's secret weapon,
"The Tomorrow People"
Developing a superhero companion series to breakout hit "Arrow" must have been a top priority for CW and they've found an interesting prospect in this reboot of a U.K. cult series, executive produced by Greg Berlanti ("Arrow") and Julie Plec ("Vampire Diaries").
The longer preview screened at the upfront clarified the show's "X-Men" meets "Matrix" ambitions, establishing a war between humans and the mutant-like Tomorrow People and featuring scenes of the teen hero played by Robbie Amell teleporting, receiving telepathic messages from a fellow tomorrow person ( Peyton List of "Mad Men"), levitating a toothbrush and knocking out and strangling a school bully without touching him. It also revealed a twist about just how directly connected the villain played by Mark Pellegrino is to Amell's hero. It all looks pretty fun, actually.
The CW's clear internal favorite and most unexpected offering earned the coveted post-"Vampire Diaries" slot and will attempt to broaden the network's demographic appeal a bit. "Reign" tells the story of young Mary Queen of Scots (potential breakout star Adelaide Kane) in what looks to be a fast-moving sexed-up soap with lavish (for CW) production values and no shortage of royal intrigue.
The preview above is only a small taste of the extensive trailer shown at the upfront which featured a scheming queen ( Megan Follows of '80s TV favorite "Anne of Green Gables" all grown up), an assassination attempt, lavish balls, stunning locations including an enormous castle and even hints of (what else?) supernatural happenings. It looks like a less stuffy spin on Showtime's "The Tudors" or a soapier version of Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette," and could even appeal to some of the same audience that's made an unlikely mega-hit out of "Downton Abbey."
One of the few true surprises of this year's upfronts, "Reign" earns a place next to "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." as one of the most intriguing new shows on any network this fall.
Once upon a WB, there was a show called "Roswell" about a teen girl who fell in love with an alien. From the looks of the lackluster and frankly laughable upfront preview reel, "Star-Crossed" is no "Roswell." It looks more like the "Beauty and the Beast" of this season and will need to draw the same romance-first crowd capable of overlooking extreme cheese if it has any hope to succeed.
The longer upfront preview reel included much more footage of the star-crossed romance between alien ( Matt Lanter of "90210") and human ( Aimee Teegarden, nearly unrecognizable from her "Friday Night Lights" days), as well as longer flashbacks to their childhood meeting, some more details of the world they live in (including holograms) in school and a whole lot more bad acting and terrible dialogue.
A step up from "Star-Crossed" but lagging behind everything else, this uninspired YA novel adaptation also looks like it skews more cheap and cheesy than the CW's fall offerings. The premise involves 100 delinquent teenagers sent from space back to Earth to test out its suitability for human life after a long time away from the planet. Built around a heroic female lead ( Eliza Taylor) -- a la "Hunger Games" -- the upfront preview suggested a show that intercuts between the teens down on Earth and the adults up in space (including Paige Turco as the heroine's mom, Isaiah Washington as a commanding officer and Henry Ian Cusick as a possibly corrupt leader). It also provided more hints at the dangers the teens will face on Earth and weird things they'll encounter (like a two-headed deer).