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The CW Upfront 2012: Recycling All The Pretty People

You've got to hand it to The CW: they know how to really keep an upfront moving. From kicking it off with a performance by Flo Rida to just jumping right in to a preview of their most interesting new series, Arrow, it flew by faster than any other network presentation this week. Sure, they spent time discussing social media and whatnot, but it was all broken up by on-stage appearances by the very beautiful people who are on their shows. And hey, most of their 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 Smallville's Green Arrow Justin Hartley (he's got 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 space 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's got 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.

Beauty and the Beast (Thursdays at 9 PM)
Kristen Kreuk (Smallville) provides this fairytale update with the beauty, as an NYPD cop (yes, really) who is still hung up on the murder of her mother from nine years prior. 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 ... and 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 super-soldier 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 bad guys 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)
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 Eady (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 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 geekier '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.

Cult (Midseason)
Honestly, this show sounds massively confusing, though it could be compelling, mainly 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 maybe behind a real-life rash of grisly crimes and that his show was somehow recruiting people. Since the teaser was only a couple of minutes, it's not surprising that the show-within-a-show concept was hard to clearly encapsulate. But if it's this incomprehensible once it makes it to air, it will be in the running for most baffling show on TV alongside Fox's Zero Hour.

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