Last one of the upfronts, it’s The CW, natural home of entertainment for young adults, particularly young women, and spin-offs from old trashy TV shows of the 80s.
Coming after the jump, complete with vids, Melrose Place, The Vampire Diaries and The Beautiful Life.
The Beautiful Life (Wednesdays 9pm)
The life of a high-fashion model appears glamorous and sexy, but as every new model quickly learns, behind the beautiful façade is a world of insecurity and cutthroat competition.
Two teenage models who are about to discover this world for themselves are Raina Collins (Sara Paxton, “Last House on the Left”), a stunning beauty with a secret past, and Chris Andrews (Benjamin Hollingsworth, “The Line”), a strikingly handsome Iowa farm boy. When Raina makes an unforgettable impression at a show introducing the new line from designer Zac Posen (appearing in a cameo role), she steals the spotlight from her friend Sonja (Mischa Barton, “The O.C.”).
Sonja has been out of the country for mysterious reasons and is now desperate to reclaim her standing as the reigning supermodel. While Raina and Sonja live at the top of the fashion food chain, Chris is starting at the bottom, having just been discovered by agent Simon Lockridge (newcomer Dusan Dukic) of the Covet Modeling Agency, which is owned by former supermodel Claudia Foster (Elle Macpherson, “Friends”).
At his first photo shoot, Chris’ inexperience almost derails his career until Raina comes to his rescue, showing him how to relax and work the camera. That afternoon, Raina brings Chris to the “models’ residence” where she lives along with other young hopefuls, including Marissa Delfina (Ashley Madekwe, “Secret Diary of a Call Girl”), Egan (Jordan Woolley, “As The World Turns”), Issac (Corbin Bleu, “High School Musical 2”) and the current alpha-male-model known as Kai (Nico Tortorella, “Twelve”).
At an exclusive industry party that night, Chris is again impressed by Raina’s generosity when she steps aside to make sure Sonja lands a job that will resurrect her career. However, after an ugly scene with Simon, Chris is left to question whether he can survive in this world of dangerous excess and fleeting fame.
THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE is from Katalyst Films in association with CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Television with executive producers Ashton Kutcher & Jason Goldberg (“True Beauty,” “Punk’d”), Karey Burke (“True Beauty”), Mike Kelley (“Swingtown,” “Jericho”) and Carol Barbee (“Swingtown,” “Jericho”). Christian Duguay (“Coco Chanel”) directed the pilot.
Rob’s initial impression: Nothing outstanding, nothing too awful. About what you’d predict, really. It’s a good pairing with America’s Next Top Model, good casting – even if the English girl seems a little wooden – so I predict it’ll do well.
The Vampire Diaries (Thursdays 8pm)
Four months after the tragic car accident that killed their parents, 17-year-old Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev, “DeGrassi: The Next Generation”) and her 15-year-old brother, Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen, “Everwood”) are still trying to cope with their grief and move on with their lives. Elena has always been the star student; beautiful, popular and involved with school and friends, but now she finds herself struggling to hide her sadness from the world.
As the school year begins, Elena and her friends are fascinated by a handsome and mysterious new student, Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley, “Army Wives”). Stefan and Elena are immediately drawn to one another, and Elena has no way of knowing that Stefan is a centuries-old vampire, struggling to live peacefully among humans, while his brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder, “Lost”) is the embodiment of vampire violence and brutality. Now these two vampire brothers ─ one good, one evil ─ are at war for Elena’s soul and for the souls of her friends, family and all the residents of the small town of Mystic Falls, Virginia.
Based on the series of books by L. J. Smith, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES is from Alloy Entertainment and Bonanza Productions Inc in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios with executive producers Kevin Williamson (“Dawson’s Creek,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer”), Julie Plec (“Kyle XY,” “Wasteland”), Leslie Morgenstein (“Gossip Girl,” “Privileged”) and Bob Levy (“Gossip Girl,” “Privileged”). Marcos Siega (“Dexter”) directed the pilot.
Rob’s initial impression: Why not be honest and just call it “brazen attempt to cash in on the success of Twilight“? Seemed more than a bit rubbish, from the effects right through to the “absolutely nothing new” script. It’s hard to predict whether it’ll be loved for echoing the same themes as Twilight or hated for being too close to Twilight without actually being Twilight. There’s probably already a group of people who hate Twilight because it’s not like The Vampire Diaries books, and there’ll be a group that love this as a result. I’d need Venn diagrams to see who wins.
Melrose Place (Tuesdays 9pm)
In an elegant Spanish-style apartment building in the trendy Melrose neighborhood of Los Angeles, a diverse group of 20-somethings have formed a close-knit surrogate family. Sydney Andrews (Laura Leighton, the original “Melrose Place”) is the landlady, still beautiful at 40, and a central figure in the lives of all her tenants, especially handsome and rebellious David Breck (Shaun Sipos, “Shark”). Sydney started an affair with David despite her turbulent history with his estranged father, Dr. Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro, the original “Melrose Place”). Both father and son learned through experience that Sydney was not above using blackmail to control people.
Another tenant, high-powered publicist Ella Simms (Katie Cassidy, “Supernatural”), once considered Sydney her mentor, but their friendship was destroyed by betrayal, and Sydney threatened to evict Ella and ruin her career. Sydney also played a pivotal role in the career of Auggie Kirkpatrick (Colin Egglesfield, “All My Children”). After they met at an AA meeting, she became Auggie’s sponsor and encouraged his dream to become a chef. Now a successful sous chef at the trendy restaurant Coal, Auggie has been avoiding
Sydney since she began drinking again. The other tenants include Lauren Yung (Stephanie Jacobsen, “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”), a medical student in desperate need of money to pay her student loans, and Jonah Miller (Michael Rady, “Swingtown”), an aspiring filmmaker who has just proposed to his live-in girlfriend Riley Richmond (Jessica Lucas, “Cloverfield”), a first-grade teacher. The newest tenant, 18-year-old Violet Foster (Ashlee Simpson-Wentz, “7th Heaven”), has just arrived in LA with her own secret connection to Sydney.
When a bloody body is found floating in the courtyard pool, David is the leading suspect. However, as the police are soon to discover, almost everyone living at Melrose Place had a reason to want the deceased out of the way. An updated version of the popular 1990s series, MELROSE PLACE is from CBS Television Studios with executive producers Todd Slavkin & Darren Swimmer (“Smallville”). Oscar-winner Davis Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth”) is the director and executive producer of the pilot.
Rob’s initial impression: Looks pretty pants, but so did the original, so I’m holding off judgement on this, particularly since I already know the twist.
Nothing that shines quality in the way Gossip Girl or even Privileged did, these look like programmes picked because they match a particular demographic, not because they’re necessarily any good. But, their good might be my evil, and The Beautiful Life looks okayish, I guess, so they might turn out to be incredibly well targeted bits of programming. Let’s wait and see.