THE CW

 

Week after week, when I write my regular Ratings Roundup column, certain trends always prevail.

Jersey Shore, American Idol and Modern Family always seem to be hitting highs. Ditto History and Tru TV. Meanwhile NBC and Vh1 continue to slip further with a seemingly non-stop series of flop shows.

But one network more than any other makes me roll my eyes and question its very existence. That network – The CW.

Recently we’ve seen new reality show, Shedding For The Wedding, flop disastrously in the ratings, following in the footsteps of fellow non-scripted shows Fly Girls, High Society and Plain Jane. America’s Next Top Model is showing serious signs of age and is well past its prime years. Gossip Girl and 90210, no matter how much the network hypes them, still aren’t hits and are regularly thrashed by cable show Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family. Smallville is in its final season. And new recruits Hellcats and Nikita, while performing respectably, are far from breakout smashes.

In fact The CW only has one certifiable hit – and that’s The Vampire Diaries, airing on Thursday nights, which can often pull ratings in the 3-4 million range. But elsewhere the network really is a wasteland, leading to frequent speculation that the whole channel may finally be pulled.

So can The CW be saved… maybe. Here’s a few Remote Patrolled suggestions on how the lights might be kept on…

GIVE TOP MODEL A MAKEOVER: Tyra’s veterean reality show has been running for 16 cycles now – and yet if you go back and compare current shows with early series you’d barely spot any differences. The Top Model team have been spectacularly lazy at jazzing up the format in the way that the Survivor and Biggest Loser producers have done year after year. The result – Top Model feels distinctly tired now.

I’ve talked about what some of these changes could be in my Top Model Trouble piece  – so how about male models versus female models, rich versus poor or international girls versus American models. Plus Top Model could do with a short-term rest – or a reduction to just one cycle a year. It won’t happen of course – but at the moment the franchise is definitely being run into the ground. How much longer can the show realistically continue?

ENOUGH WITH THE HIGH SCHOOL SHOWS: No matter how much The CW tries to hype them Gossip Girl and 90210 just aren’t bona fide hits. Both average under 2 million viewers an episode despite countless magazine covers and the blooming big screen careers of some of the show’s stars. In fact in many ways the two shows lack of success is rather staggering.

So maybe it’s time the CW stopped churning out high school themed shows – which let’s be honest have always been well mined territory – and started looking for fresher ideas. And that doesn’t mean just jumping on the latest genre bandwagon – yep, the network is really working on a zombie themed show for the Fall! It means having original ideas that make the network stand out. Speaking of which…

REVAMP THE REALITY LINE-UP: I honestly don’t know who’s in charge of unscripted shows over at The CW, but boy are they screwing up royally. Shedding For The Wedding had flop written all over it  – did the world really need another weight loss show? And since when are weddings a good fit for the CW teen audience?  But most of all Wedding was totally derivative and unoriginal. Ditto last summer’s makeover show Plain Jane, probably the most generic makeover show in years.

The fact is The CW has totally lost its way on the reality front – ceding ground to the likes of Bravo, MTV and TLC. Where is the network’s Jersey Shore, Real Housewives or teen themed Cake Boss? Why isn’t The CW doing a competition show as on brand and well produced as Face Off for Syfy. Weight loss and makeover are easy options from a network that doesn’t really know what it needs. Drop us a line guys – we’ve got plenty of idea that would fit your network just right! It really shouldn’t be this hard…

FIGURE OUT THE AUDIENCE: And finally The CW really needs to work out who it’s appealing to and program accordingly. The network is obviously courting teen girls with the likes of Gossip Girl and Hellcats… but then Smallville and Supernatural target the guys. Only The Vampire Diaries and Nikita feel as though they have equal appeal – which may explain why the former is the network’s sole hit at the moment.

The fact is guys and girls frequently have very different tastes and the teen market as a whole is terrifically tough to target – we all know teens watch a lot less TV these days since they have so many other distractions. Plus the audience ages out fast. So maybe The CW could benefit from some older programming – perhaps reaching out to the 20-something – or dare I say it, 30-something market. They’re likely to be a lot less flaky…

But what do you think? Do you watch The CW – and which shows? What do you think the network should do to turn its fortunes around? Start commenting everyone…