The CW usually has the most energetic upfront of them all each May. While we were a bit concerned about this year's new location (Jazz at Lincoln Center), the presentation began with the band LMFAO singing "Party Rock Anthem" while Quest Crew from "America's Best Dance Crew" did their b-boy thing onstage.
Once they shuffled off, outgoing CW president Dawn Ostroff introduced the attractive casts of all the network's shows, forcing them to engage in awkward banter onstage — a tried-and-true CW upfront tradition. Finally, after some hype about CWingo (a new Facebook bingo game) and the obligatory joke about Ian Somerhalder's bite being worse than his bark, we finally saw clips from the new lineup.
"Hart of Dixie" (Mondays, 9pm ET)
We hate it when TV or movie titles are plays on characters' names. It's the sole reason that we resisted watching "Grey's Anatomy" at first. And here, Rachel Bilson stars as a doctor named, you guessed it, Zoe Hart. She didn't get her dream cardiothoracic job in New York City, so she goes sweet-home-Alabama-ing down to a quaint Southern (Dixie, get it?) town called Bluebell, where she and her Louboutins are immediately out of place. There are so many things we like about this show — Summer Roberts, producer Josh Schwartz, Scott Porter, Cress Williams, and previously-unknown-to-me Wilson Bethel, who is fairly easy on the eyes — but it's going to take some doing to get us truly hooked on yet another fish-out-of-water tale with a stupid title.
"Ringer" (Tuesdays, 9pm ET)
CBS failed to see the appeal of Sarah Michelle Gellar, so sister network CW picked up this tale about twin sisters (both played by the "Buffy" actress). One sister (Bridget) is poor and a former drug addict; the other (Siobhan) is living in the lap of luxury. But when Siobhan commits suicide, or falls off a boat, Bridget assumes her life, and things start to get mysterious and spooky. If it weren't for former "Life Unexpected" star Kristoffer Polaha, we'd hardly recognize this dark show as a CW program, particularly with Ioan Gruffudd as Siobhan's husband and Nestor Carbonell as an FBI agent. It's a nice step in the grown-up direction for the network, but it probably would have been a better fit with "Gossip Girl" on Mondays than with frivolous "90210" on its new night.
"H8R" (Wednesdays, 8pm ET)
Mario Lopez hosts this show, which introduces "celebrities" like Snooki and Kim Kardashian to people who trash them on the Internet. We have a feeling we're already a H8R of this show.
"The Secret Circle" (Thursdays, 9pm ET)
Kevin Williamson is doing another show based on a book series by L.J. Smith? We were almost ready to set my DVR sight unseen, based on our addiction to "The Vampire Diaries." But the footage curbed our enthusiasm somewhat. Not only does the show star Britt Robertson (Lux from the blissfully canceled "Life Unexpected"), but it's also about a secret gang of witches, like from "The Craft," and there was a moment in the preview where droplets of rain levitated in the air and sparkled around a couple (Lux and Thomas Dekker from "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles") like a scene straight out of "Twilight." And, in case it's not obvious, we don't mean that in a good way. On the other hand, Williamson has done some great stuff on "The Vampire Diaries" with Stefan, who we originally thought was boring, while Gale Harold has stopped making out with Aly Michalka on "Hellcats" to become this show's big bad. "The Secret Circle" might not be "Vampire Diaries," but it could be a bewitching version of "Pretty Little Liars."
This looks like "Hollywood Squares" meets "Big Brother." Teams of two have to live within the confines of a frame and compete against other teams living in other frames. And viewers can torture them by picking out punishments and rewards. It looks stupid, but we're suckers for mindless social experiments like this, so we'll check it out. Just hope one of the viewer options will be to pull the plug on the show.
If you've watched "Kitchen Nightmares" or "Tabatha's Salon Takeover" and wished that someone would help struggling modeling agencies to improve, then your wish has been granted. Paul Fisher is creating a network of agencies and helping them identify their star talent. Sounds riveting.
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