TVision: The CW gets jump on competition

Monday, September 7, 2009 at 11:22pm
 Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki of 'Supernatural'

When you’re the number four network and get beat some nights by basic cable shows, you’ve got to take advantage of any opportunity. The CW is launching its new fall season this week ahead of its other competitors, and while most of what they present is neither aimed at or intended for anyone over the age of 30, there is one returning CW show will potentially wider appeal.

That’s Supernatural, which begins year number five Thursday night at 8 p.m. (CW-58) with a blockbuster premise. As last season ended, the Winchester siblings (Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki) were battling each other while also trying to prevent (literally) the gates of Hell from opening up.

They didn’t prove successful on that front, and the new season sees them handling the results when no less a frightening sight than Lucifer himself arises and in some form and fashion actually walks on the earth.

No details have been revealed yet regarding who will play the devil, but this latest ingredient only adds more fire (no pun intended) to what’s become arguably the CW’s best program. It’s certainly among the very few that have appeal across demographic lines, even if sometimes the brotherly conflict seems strained and contrived. But they’ve tapped into the current enthusiasm for all subjects otherworldly, from witches and warlocks to demons and werewolves.

The network’s other big crossover attraction (and longest-running series) is America’s Top Model, which has it’s 13th (believe it or not) unveiling with yet another twist Wednesday at 7 p.m. The latest edition features a group of contestants who are happen to be less than five feet, seven inches.

Tyra Banks has made this show a money magnet and attention-grabber for the CW, which does need all the buzz it can get and revels in the kind of antics and online discussions the program generates.

Another CW staple that relaunches in 90210, whose West Beverly contingent return Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The early storyline involves a major event among the program’s social set, so its fans should be prepared for a few shocks and surprises.

Final ‘Blood’

It vaulted from critical favorite to full-fledged hit in its second season, and HBO’s True Blood is now ready to challenge basic cable hits like The Closer and Burn Notice for audience and critical prestige.

The addition of Evan Rachel Wood as vampire queen Sophie-Ann gave an already rising show another shot of popularity, and the online chatter has never been more heated. There’s also no question that True Blood as well as the Twilight book and film series are responsible for the coming of the CW’s new show The Vampire Diaries, the only program on their network picked by TV Guide as a potential fall breakout show.

Sunday’s season finale at 8 p.m. promises so major developments and a dilemma for Sookie (Anna Paquin) that’s going to place her in extreme peril (to put it mildly). Alan Ball has finally given HBO something close to a replacement for departed hits The Wire and The Sopranos, even if this program doesn’t compare to those in terms of thematic weight or social dissection. But then its fans aren’t concerned with those things anyway.

Anytime a show can spawn a new drink (something called Tru:Blood goes on sale Wednesday) and trigger renewed interest and appreciation in a series of novels that were previously confined to the ranks of specialty genre (Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries) it’s more than made its corporate backers happy.

Fresh ‘Sons’

It hasn’t yet become as successful as Rescue Me or The Shield, but there was steady growth and development last season for the FX show Sons of Anarchy. The program about a California motorcycle gang who are considered “outlaws,” yet band together to keep meth and other drug dealers out of their community, closed out last year with a respectable audience of 5.4 million.

Things get just a bit heavy when the second season starts Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Their determination to keep meth out of the neighborhood puts them squarely in opposition to a big-time dealer who also happens to be a white supremacist. Jax (Clay Morrow) and his buddies have never been social crusaders or particularly political, but they are willing to fight and that’s precisely what they find themselves doing as Sons of Anarchy evolves throughout its new year.