The CW usually has the most energetic upfront of them all each May, and while I was a bit concerned about this year's new location (Jazz at Lincoln Center), the presentation began with the band LMFAO singing "Party Rock Anthem" while members of America's Best Dance Crew alums Quest Crew (including Hok!) did their B-Boy thing on stage. Once they shuffled off, outgoing CW president Dawn Ostroff introduced the very attractive casts of all of the network's shows, forcing them to engage in awkward banter on stage - a tried-and-true CW upfront tradition (I certainly hope that her successor Mark Pedowitz continues it next time). But the Good Sport of the Week Award goes to sales exec Rob Tuck, who came out wearing both a gold lamé jacket and the cardboard robot head from LMFAO's performance. Finally, after some hype about CWingo (a new Facebook bingo game) and the obligatory joke about Ian Somerhalder's bite being worse than his bark, we finally saw clips from the new line-up.
Hart of Dixie (Mondays, 9 PM)
I hate it when TV or movie titles are just plays on characters names. It's the sole reason that I resisted watching Grey's Anatomy at first. And here, Rachel Bilson stars as a doctor named, you guessed it, Zoe Hart. She didn't get her dream cardiothoracic job in New York City (preach to the Cristina Yang choir), so she goes sweet-home-Alabama-ing down to a quaint Southern (Dixie, get it?) town called Bluebell, where she and her Louboutins are immediately out of place. She isn't exactly welcomed by one of the partners at her new practice, but tries her best to adapt to small town life by flirting with Scott Porter. There are so many things I like about this show -- Summer Roberts, producer Josh Schwartz, Scott Porter, Cress Williams and previously-unknown-to-me Wilson Bethel, who is fairly easy on the eyes -- but it's going to take some doing to get me truly hooked on yet another fish-out-of-water-tale that has a stupid title to boot.
Ringer (Tuesdays, 9 PM)
CBS failed to see the appeal of Sarah Michelle Gellar, so sister network CW picked up this tale about twin sisters (both played by Buffy). One sister (Bridget) is poor and a former drug addict; the other (Siobhan) is living in the lap of luxury. But when Siobhan commits suicide, or falls off a boat, Bridget assumes her life and things start to get very mysterious and spooky. If it weren't for former Life Unexpected star Kristoffer Polaha, I'd hardly recognize this dark show as a CW program, particularly with Ioan Gruffudd as Siobhan's husband and Nestor Carbonell as an FBI agent. It's a nice step in the grown-up direction for the network, but it probably would have been a better fit with Gossip Girl on Mondays than with frivolous 90210 on its new night.
H8R (Wednesdays, 8 PM)
Mario Lopez is hosting this show that introduces "celebrities" like Snooki and Kim Kardashian to people who trash them on the internet. I've got a feeling I'm already a H8R of this show.
The Secret Circle (Thursdays, 9 PM)
Kevin Williamson is doing another show based on a book series by LJ Smith? I was almost ready to set my DVR sight unseen based on my addiction to The Vampire Diaries. But, I hate to say, the footage curbed my enthusiasm somewhat. Not only does the show star Britt Robertson (Lux from the blissfully canceled Life Unexpected) but it's all about a secret gang of witches, like from The Craft, and there was a moment in the preview that had droplets of rain levitating in the air and sparkling around a couple (Lux and Thomas Dekker from Sarah Connor Chronicles) like a scene straight out of Twilight. And, in case it's not obvious, I don't mean that in a good way. On the other hand, Williamson has done some great stuff on TVD with Stefan, who I originally thought was boring, while Gale Harold has stopped making out with Aly Michalka on Hellcats to become this show's big bad. It might not be Vampire Diaries, but it could be a bewitching version of Pretty Little Liars.
This looks like Hollywood Squares meets Big Brother. Teams of two have to live within the confines of a frame, and compete against other teams living in other frames. And viewers can torture them by picking out punishments and rewards. It looks stupid, but I'm a sucker for mindless social experiments like this, so I'll check it out. Just hope one of the options be to pull the plug on the show.
If you've watched Kitchen Nightmares or Tabatha's Salon Takeover and wished that someone would take struggling modeling agencies and help them improve, then your wish has been granted. Paul Fisher is creating a network of agencies and helping them identify their star talent. Sounds riveting.
And with that, this year's upfront season is blissfully over.
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