The CW’s Thursday Night… No Longer Must-See TV

19 Sep

A couple of years ago, the CW’s Thursday night was a lot of fun. Smallville wasn’t exactly deep and meaningful but it was usually an enjoyable way to spend an hour. Then there’s Supernatural which is just awesome. Complex storylines, great character development, dark, gritty… It’s a grownup show on the CW, though based on some websites I’ve seen, it seems like people can enjoy it without being into deep discussions on theology, mythology and folklore. Either way, Thursday was a day to look forward to.

Now… Not so  much.

I won’t review the entire Vampire Diaries series to date. It’s pretty much the normal story about a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire, has a best friend who is a witch, etc. Kinda like Buffy but without the texture that made Buffy fun. See, Buffy was ultimately a spoof. We bought the reality in the series because the show didn’t take itself too seriously. You laughed more than you cried. Beneath that, there were metaphors and there was depth. When the show went deep with episodes like The Body you felt it.

Now, I watch a lot of TV shows. I have a list of shows that I think are actually good (Supernatural, Fringe, Chuck, Community, Raising Hope… and a few more) and then a longer list of shows that I watch which I wouldn’t really say are “good”. They’re more like filler for me. Something to do when I don’t have anything better to do. I think that there’s something to be learned from the writing of shows like that, just as much as there is to learn from shows that are brilliant. How many of us sit back and think “If I were writing that…”? So I won’t defend my decision to watch anymore. I’ll just move on to my thoughts…

Last week, The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle premiered. I didn’t have high hopes or expectations. I went in just wanting to be entertained for a while (DVRed them, since I have some Supernatural DVDs to watch).

With that said, I think that The Vampire Diaries went a bit far. See, I like dark shows. I think Dexter  is one of the better written shows on TV. I enjoy the darkness and the struggle on Being Human (US version since I haven’t seen the UK version… judge me all you want for that). But putting aside most of the story, two things stuck out the most for me on The Vampire Diaries.

First, Damon’s “girlfriend”, Andie. She went out with him last season and when she found out that he was a vampire, she ran screaming. He compelled her (using mind control that they do on the show) to not only remain silent about the vampires in town, but to be okay with what he is. He took away her ability to leave and in doing so, he took away her ability to decide that she didn’t want to be there. She could no longer say “no.” That does not sit right with me.

Secondly, in the episode, Elana discovers that her broody vampire boyfriend has been leaving a trail of dead bodies in his wake all summer long. The episode ends with her talking to him on the phone, telling him that it will be okay. Umm… murderous monster killing a lot of people here. How is that okay? He didn’t misplace his iphone. We’re not talking about him forgetting to get her a birthday present. He kills people. Literally rips them apart and puts them back together…

Maybe I’m just showing my age here, but when that happened on Buffy the heroes on the show usually tried to kill the vampire. At the very least, they could try frowning upon it.

There is some talent on the show. I’m not bashing the actors here (I’d probably watch for one or two of the actresses alone). I think that the writers have gotten so lost in their broody scowls and romantic triangles, they’ve lost track of the little things like rape and murder. Because of this, I can’t relate to anyone on the show and I really can’t care about any of them. There’s no weight to the story. When a major character died at the end of last season, it wasn’t a “Jenny Calendar” moment that haunts you long after its over. It was… forgettable.

When the show makes the issues matter, perhaps there will be more to connect with. When the vampire hunter on the show stops drinking with the vampires and starts preventing them from killing people, maybe my opinion of the show will improve. Until then, The Vampire Diaries isn’t only fluff and filler, but I have to think that’s it’s doing some amount of harm to impressionable youths who are told to relate to these characters and sympathize with them. “Who will Elana choose” shouldn’t be as important as “Which vampire’s crimes are worse?” or “Who should they stake first?”

I think I’ve covered all that I need to cover.

 

Now, The Secret Circle.

Honestly, I liked this one better when it was called The Craft. The plots are similar. A girl’s deceased mother was a witch, so the girl is naturally powerful. She moves to a new town where she falls in with a group of other witches who teach her how to be one of them. In this case, there are a couple of guys included in the coven. All of the female characters are pretty much cut from the same cloth as the characters from The Craft. At times, it seemed like they were even trying to channel those other actors, especially when it came to the bad girl, played by Pheobe Tonkin. There’s just no escaping the fact that Fairuza Balk did it better. In fact, I’d say that if anything, The Secret Circle made me want to watch The Craft again. And come to think of it, a series with that tone and the sort of creepy intensity of those characters from the film could be really interesting.

Great, now I want to see the original cast of The Craft back for a sequel… also, wouldn’t Fairuza Balk be an awesome Livewire in a Superman movie? (sorry, sidetracked)

The Secret Circle really doesn’t captivate. There’s not much to talk about with it. I liked Thomas Dekker was cool on The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and I think that this is kind of a step backward for him.

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2 Responses to “The CW’s Thursday Night… No Longer Must-See TV”

  1. Jhase September 20, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    Well I can’t really argue with a lot of the views you’ve pointed out here, as they are very sound.

    The Secret Circle, I actually hadn’t thought of The Craft, but then it explains why that chick kept walking like that. It was way too forced and she wasn’t really being seductive. I actually thought that at least twice she was going to fall over a wooded board, but now that you’ve pointed that out. I see where you’re coming from.

    Either way, this season I’m only down for maybe three CW shows. Nikita, Ringer, and Supernatural. Because I’m a drama loving freak and a gay-male enthusiast I’ll watch 90210. Plus Jessica Lowndes really is one of my favorite women on The CW now that Kristen Bell is gone and Katie Cassidy is gone. Of course she’s second to Sarah.

    Regardless, I have to watch it. I’m a fan of the old one. Yup, but you’re right in a lot of points about both shows.

    • authorkyleandrews September 20, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

      I don’t really get how 90210 has survived for so long. Gossip Girl doesn’t get super great ratings, but there are come up-and-coming actresses on the show that get it a lot of press. 90210, on the other hand, really has a lot of incredibly bad actors and the writing is almost criminally bad.

      The first season of the new 90210 was fun because it had the old characters and while I hated the old 90210 for many years during its run, there was some nostalgia there… Plus, I’ve always been a sucker for Jennie Garth. After they ditched those connections to the old series, there was no point to anything that was happening.

      Supernatural keeps the network afloat, in my opinion. It’s the best written, best acted, best produced show on an otherwise sub-par network. Ringer could become another good show, but it’s too early to tell.

      I gave Nikita a solid chance when it started. I defended it before it came out, when people didn’t like them redoing the show after it had been done pretty well before. But I gave it a chance… But after five or six episodes, I just didn’t buy into anything that was going on. I didn’t buy into the characters or the stories that were being told, so I couldn’t even watch it just for the fun of watching it.

      If the CW were smart, they would have had a DC Universe character ready to go after Smallville ended (Nightwing!) but they didn’t. Now Supernatural is getting to a point where they could end at any minute (though I think the series could go on for years, I just don’t know if the actors would stay) and the CW doesn’t have a show that will fill that gap. If they had gone with smarter shows at the start, instead of canceling things like Veronica Mars, they could have had a solid base. Now I think the network is primed to fail, because they invest everything they have into their under-performing shows like 90210 and Gossip Girl.

      Just to compare some ratings:

      Supernatural (season 6 finale) – 2.11
      90210 (season 3 finale) – 1.64
      Gossip Girl (season 4 finale) – 1.36
      Veronica Mars (when it was canceled) – 2.15
      The Vampire Diaries (season 2 finale) – 2.86
      Smallville (series finale) – 3.02
      Nikita (season 1 finale) – 1.94

      Now, I can see why the network backs The Vampire Diaries. It hits their target demographic while actually performing well for the network. However, the two other shows that the network invests the most in and keeps renewing are nowhere near impressive, even for their network.

      Rather than build on what works, they seem to be trying to build on what doesn’t. For a “girl” targeting network, it seems to me that their highest performing shows are the ones that appeal to both men and women… in fact, Supernatural is pretty much a guy show (cars, guns, graphic violence)

      I just don’t get the CW.

      and I realize that this rant was completely random and has nothing to do with anything you said, but I just go tto thinking about it and had to ramble for a while.

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