The CW has probably seen some of its best and worst ratings from its freshman shows in the fall season. Out of the three shows, one was cancelled after two episodes and another has been struggling from the start. Where did The Beautiful Life and Melrose Place go wrong and why has The Vampire Diaries flourished for the network?
I’ll start with The Beautiful Life, though I won’t go into it too much or I’ll repeat the same things that I mentioned in a post after the show got cancelled. What was meant to get people excited seemed to rest on three things. The fact it was centred on models, was meant to attract viewers of American’s Next Top Model, the television comeback of Mischa Barton and Ashton Kutcher as co producer.
Unfortunately for this show, that’s where it went wrong. Just because ANTM is popular doesn’t mean people want to watch a drama about models. Too much attention was placed on the fact that Barton was back on TV since her character was killed off in The OC. I don’t think people really cared and it might have actually put some off watching. Then comes to my last point, Ashton Kutcher fans might not want to watch a show that doesn’t actually show him. How much creative control did he actually have? It’s not like he’s a top draw producer/show creator where fans will follow every show they do.
If it wasn’t for The Beautiful Life, then Melrose Place would have been the worst performer from the start. MP’s ratings haven’t been great, stumbling behind 90210; both not being able to surpass 2 million viewers this season. The failures of Melrose Place is sort of similar to why 90210 isn’t working. Banking on fans of the original to follow it and forgetting about attracting viewers that weren’t fans and keeping them. It was something I touched upon before about TV remakes.
This brings me to The Vampire Diaries, based on a series of books. I’m not too familiar with the success of the books so I can’t say that was my reason for watching the show. Three things brought it to my attention; Kevin Williamson, Ian Somerhalder and vampires. Now I shall explain. I’m a Dawson’s Creek fan, I’ve watched Ian on Young American’s, Tell Me You Love Me and Lost. I also watched a lot of things involving vampires (Buffy, Angel, Twilight, Moonlight, etc). I think that as characters, vampires are complex and can be a writers dream, if they know what to do with them, other than make them drink blood.
Whether or not it was their complete intention, the timing of TVD was impeccable. With the success of Twilight and books being made into films/TV shows, there was a market to tap into. As we all know, things like this don’t guarantee success but it did get 4.8m viewers for the first episode. What keeps people watching is the cast, including Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder and the excellent writing. The mid-season finale had it all, with an ending that made you want to count down the days until the next episode, to see the conclusion.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not someone who’s only exposure to 90210 and Melrose Place has been in the past year or two. I did watch both shows when they were originally aired, though not in its entirety. There’s just a big difference in quality between Melrose Place and The Vampire Diaries and the ratings paint the picture. MP seems to lack a meaty storyline and real direction. Bringing Heather Locklear isn’t enough, she needs something to work with. There does seem to be a slight improvement and the last episode aired shows it. With the break and Auggie and Violet due to leave the canvas, they have a chance to make creative changes.
A new show will be joining the party in January. Life Unexpected is due to start in January. I’m quietly excited by this and it has the opportunity of being a hit for the network and I hope it is. The older shows like Supernatural, Smallville and One Tree Hill aren’t going to be around forever and The CW needs to find its next batch of hits.