A Closer Look at CW Early Renewals

Much to the relief of anxious fans who have been waiting nervously to hear the fate of their beloved shows, The CW has spared them a few extra gray hairs in the coming months by announcing early pickups for five of their series.  Returning to the schedule for the Fall 2010 season are four dramas: The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Gossip Girl, and 90210, along with the long-running hit reality series America’s Next Top Model.

The renewals are not entirely a surprise, as industry experts have correctly predicted these outcomes for a while now based on series performance and actors’ contracts.  The CW has also gained extra brownie points and cemented viewer loyalty even further by being generous in their early announcements and sparing their viewers the agony of having to wait until the “May upfronts” where such announcements are usually made by all networks, in addition to revealing the new shows to debut in their Fall line-ups.   As our previous post stated, curiously missing from the renewal list at this time is Smallville.

For The Vampire Diaries, it was no surprise that the freshman series would see a second season.  It had the largest audience for a series debut for the network and consistently brings in an average of over 4 million viewers each week.  Besides capitalizing on the current vampire craze as seen with the Twilight saga, True Blood, and a multitude of theatrical releases, The Vampire Diaries excels in its ability to bring together a talented cast and a fast-paced, interesting script.  Characters are well-defined and the story that unfolds weekly easily captivates without stagnating or becoming repetitively cliche.  And despite The CW’s often maligned intention of focusing on the teen girl demo (clearly forgetting the old adage about variety being the spice of life), the creative and, dare I say, mature storytelling of The Vampire Diaries has resonated with viewers who clearly have not seen high school in quite a while, in addition to the high school/young adult crowd.

Supernatural has always faced an uphill battle in its Thursday night slot, which has consistently been the most competitive night on television.  The DVRs are definitely working overtime this season!  But the overwhelming audience loyalty combined with a constantly-promoting online fanbase kept the buzz going enough to see an unprecedented ratings increase as it entered its fourth season last year.  Yet this season many are wondering why there isn’t a higher audience retention rate coming from its lead-in, The Vampire Diaries, considering the genre similarities between the two.  Quite simply, The Vampire Diaries is the shiny new toy that everyone wants to play with at the moment, benefiting from all the extra buzz and advertising.  That audience (with a good portion no doubt building off the Twilight craze) is not likely to jump into a series that is now in its fifth season with all that story to catch up on, despite the fact that Supernatural has been the most creative, fascinating and captivating series during its run, with a tremendously talented cast and writing that delivers a great entertaining story.  It certainly did much better with its previous Thursday night partner, Smallville, who was also an older workhorse rather than a shiny new toy.

In terms of Smallville, the indication for another season is very strong, especially if those same experts are correct in their predictions.  Should the series return for a tenth season, it will be history in the making since it will tie the record for longest running sci-fi series, an honor currently held by Stargate SG-1.  It will be an honor that will forever be associated with The CW, and that is never a bad thing for this small network.  The move to Friday night has definitely been a challenge though, with ratings dropping to nearly half of their prior Thursday night numbers.  But despite the move to the night long held as the wasteland of television where series are dropped off to die, Smallville has had a creative energy this season that has truly rejuvenated the series.  A tenth season is now practically mandatory in order to see the full transformation of Clark Kent to the iconic hero known as Superman, which will finally include ‘flights and tights’.

For Gossip Girl and 90210 it appears that it will be business as usual as they will enter their fourth and third seasons respectively.  And despite the ups and downs and some questionable moves over the years, it will be nice to see America’s Next Top Model go for another round as the series enters its fourteenth season.  The hit reality series has shown an unprecedented lasting power when it comes to reality shows, being beaten only by Survivor, now in its twentieth year, and tying with The Bachelor.

At least with such an early renewal, the creative teams of the drama shows still have the benefit of a little leeway time in order to tweak scripts before filming wraps for the season.  This will allow them to close out these seasons as ‘season’ finales and properly leave us hanging until the new season starts, rather than worrying about presenting ‘series’ finales.  So, thank you CW, for taking a weight of our shoulders, saving us some extra gray hairs, and giving us another season of our favorite shows.

Detailed information on all CW shows can be found at:  www.cwtv.com Program summaries, cast information, picture galleries and discussion boards are among the multitude of items there.  The CW’s announcement can be reviewed on the blog section of their website:  http://blog.cwtv.com/2010/02/16/the-cw-announces-early-pickups-for-five-series/


  1. Great Article Liana:)

  2. Nice piece, Liana.

    Just one minor correction: if Smallville gets renewed [as it should], it would tie SG-1 as the longest running American SF series.

    The BBC's Doctor Who ran for 26 seasons before the hiatus between the original series and the 2005 reboot –
    which carried on in the same continuity [even including the Fox TV's Eighth Doctor from its less-than-excellent pilot movie] beginning with the Ninth Doctor and has added four more seasons and a series od five specials since – for a total of thirty seasons plus.

    Still, it would be an achievement that no one could have predicted when Smallville debuted on the then WB.

  3. Thanks for the kind words fellow Eclipsers 🙂 Sheldon, you are absolutely correct to add the footnote regarding US vs. UK sci-fi series. I was definitely referring to the American SF series, as I cannot imagine anything else being able to top Dr. Who at this point. And it's hard to believe that I was so disappointed with seasons 7 & 8 that I was one of those saying 'put Smallville out of its misery'. Thank goodness it continued because this season has been wonderful!

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