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The 2013-14 Upfront

The CW Stacks Up the Sci-Fi

Fall schedule seeds new dramas in mid-week

The CW today announced a radical tinkering of its prime-time Feng Shui, shifting two bubble series to Monday nights and placing its new series in unexpected time slots.

The new lineup centralizes the network’s sci-fi programming in a three-night midweek cluster, while pushing its more traditional fare to the margins. Starting with Tuesday nights, the first of the three genre showcases, the CW has paired its Vampire Diaries spinoff, The Originals, with its veteran franchise Supernatural.

Sliding The Originals in the 8 p.m. slot subverts the notion that new series are best served by leading out of established shows, and it also negates the possibility of an all-bloodsucker block. The time slot promises to be particularly challenging for The Originals, as it will go head-to-head with the 800-lb gorilla that is the ABC newbie Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The breakout drama Arrow returns to its Wednesday 8 p.m. perch, where it sets the table for the new sci-fi strip, The Tomorrow People. Based on the weird ‘70s U.K. kids’ show of the same name, TTP is about a race of high-cheekboned telepaths (Robbie Arnell, Peyton List, Luke Mitchell) who are being hunted down by a group of paramilitary scientists.

The pairing with Arrow should give the newcomer a lift; per Nielsen, the superhero drama was the most-watched series on the CW this season.

On Thursdays, the network’s top-rated show in the 18-34 demo, The Vampire Diaries, will lead into the costume drama Reign. That this hot-blooded story of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane) is shacking up with a show about vampires is another odd twist, but placing Reign in the marquee time slot is a sure sign that the CW is in love with the new series.

In the past three seasons, two freshman series (Beauty and the Beast and Nikita) performed well enough in the post-VD slot to merit renewals, while the uneven Kevin Williamson drama The Secret Circle was one-and-done in 2011-12.

Bookending the three new nights are two pair of more earthbound returning series. Hart of Dixie and Beauty and the Beast stack up on Monday nights, while sophomore show The Carrie Diaries and the long-running America’s Next Top Model will strut their stuff on Fridays.

Midseason dramas include Star-Crossed (formerly Oxygen), a sort of interstellar Romeo and Juliet meets District 9, and The 100, a dystopian sci-fi caper about a group of juvenile delinquents who are sent back to Earth to determine if the planet can be re-inhabited 95 years after a global thermonuclear war killed off all sentient life.

Speaking at the CW’s upfront reception, president Mark Pedowitz said the network this summer wil look to revive Whose Line is it Anyway? Should the show find an audience, the CW would next try its hand at scripted comedy.

The last time the CW experimented with comedy was in 2010, when it picked up the Canadian import 18 to Life for a summer run. Low ratings prompted the network to yank the show after just three episodes. Before that, the CW aired 18 episodes of David Guarascio and Moses Port’s Aliens in America, its first and only original comedy series. (The net did carry a number of legacy comedies originally developed at precursors UPN and the WB.)  

The CW’s fall schedule is as follows. New series are in bold:

MONDAY

8-9 p.m. — Hart of Dixie

9-10 p.m. — Beauty and the Beast

TUESDAY

8-9 p.m. — The Originals

9-10 p.m. — Supernatural
WEDNESDAY

8-9 p.m. — Arrow

9-10 p.m. — The Tomorrow People
THURSDAY

8-9 p.m. — The Vampire Diaries
9-10 p.m. — Reign
FRIDAY

8-9 p.m. — The Carrie Diaries
9-10 p.m. — America’s Next Top Model

TBD: Premiere dates and time slots for midseason dramas Star-Crossed and The 100, as well as the TMZ co-produced unscripted series, Famous in 12. A six-episode final season of Nikita is also due at a later date.

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