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Vampires and monsters and aliens, oh my! It's The CW

Published February 14, 2014 10:57 am

Television • Gorgeous actors and supernatural plot elements continue to shape The CW vision.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

If you are a character on the average show on The CW, you're probably between the ages of 16 and 30 and supermodel gorgeous. And the odds are pretty good that you're a vampire, a monster hunter, a superhero, a mutant with superpowers or an alien from outer space — and you're caught up in some sort of high-drama soap opera.

It's just what happens on the network that targets viewers in their teens and 20s.

"That is what works for us," said CW president Mark Pedowitz, who describes the shows as "high concept/fantasy meets serialized drama."

"High concept" is TV speak for an idea that can be easily communicated — not necessarily an idea that is highly intelligent or highbrow. The CW's newest series, "Star Crossed" (Monday, 8 p.m., Ch. 30), is a high-school soap opera about the romance between a human girl and an alien boy, one of the survivors of a huge spaceship that crash-landed on Earth.

The new show — sort of "Romeo and Juliet" meets "Alien Nation" — will join The CW's two vampire series ("Vampire Diaries" and "The Originals"), its two series about mutants ("Beauty and the Beast" and "Tomorrow People"), its show about monster hunters ("Supernatural") and its superhero show ("Arrow").

To say the network has an affinity for this kind of thing would be an understatement.

"We look for those type of shows," Pedowitz said.

Sci-fi teen soaps aren't all that easy to find. And you have to make some allowances for the fact that the aliens look like every other supermodel-gorgeous person who has a few alienlike, tattoo-looking facial birthmarks.

Never fear, there is a sci-fi explanation for why aliens look so much like us.

"We don't delve hugely into it," said executive producer Adele Lim, "but we hint at a common ancestor."

You could say that science fiction and fantasy are in the DNA of The CW. They were certainly in the DNA of UPN and The WB, the two defunct networks that merged to form The CW in 2006.

UPN launched with the premiere of "Star Trek: Voyager" and aired sci-fi series like "Star Trek: Enterprise," "Jake 2.0," "Level 9" and "The Sentinel."

The WB had an extensive history with fantasy and sci-fi — "Angel," "Birds of Prey," "Charmed" and "Roswell," just to name a few. Both Superman (in the form of "Smallville") and "Supernatural" transitioned from The WB to The CW when the network launched in 2006.

The WB's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (which moved to UPN for its sixth and seventh seasons) is almost a template for much of what The CW airs now — serialized, ensemble-cast drama featuring young-adult characters and supernatural elements.

Not only is the The CW airing the Green Arrow-adaptation "Arrow," but it's developing another series centering on comic-book superhero the Flash.

"We want to expand upon the DC universe," Pedowitz said. "We think they have rich characters that we can use."

And not only is "Supernatural" a virtual lock to return for a 10th season in the fall, The CW is developing a spinoff.

We don't know who will be in the shows, but we can count on them being young and extraordinarily good-looking.

"Well, we don't think it's just about them being pretty and handsome," said "Star Crossed" executive producer Adele Lim. "A big part of it for the aliens was that they be relatable to us."

Well, we all want to be young and good-looking, right?

You could argue that The CW is more committed to science fiction and fantasy than even the Syfy Channel, which is replete with hokey ghost-hunter and reality competition shows.

"Star Crossed" executive producer Josh Appelbaum said CW executives have been "incredibly supportive" of his team's efforts to "dive into science fiction."

"There's always a romantic component to it and there's the high school and all that stuff," he said. "But [CW execs] kept pushing us, and we were thrilled to go deeper and deeper into the science fiction. Where did they come from? What was the reality of that planet? The different factions within the [aliens], really understanding their culture. And then, as the season goes on, really dissecting and questioning — was it a crash landing? How did why really did they come here?

"So for the sci-fi fans, we'll be touching on things like that and a lot more things I think they'll get a kick out of."

And there's more sci-fi to come on The CW. On March 17, the network will launch "The 100" — a series set 97 years after a nuclear holocaust rendered Earth uninhabitable. The surviving humans have been living on a space station, and as the series begins, 100 incredibly gorgeous young criminals are sent back to the planet to recolonize.

"I think what we're doing is a hard sci-fi show on broadcast television," said executive producer Jason Rothenberg. "There's not a lot of it out there right now."

Except on The CW.


Twitter: @ScottDPierce —

New sci-fi on The CW

"Star Crossed" • Premieres Monday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m. on The CW/Ch. 30.

"The 100" • Premieres Wednesday, March 19, at 8 p.m. on The CW/Ch. 30.