Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Merger Mania

The WB and UPN networks are merging. The new network will be called "The CW," which is really scraping the barrel as far as network acronyms go.

I guess the decision makes business sense -- neither network was ever really that strong on its own, and together they might have a chance of moving out of fifth place -- but it's kind of sad to see the end of two networks that actually had an individual identity and brand name, in a way that the big networks don't. You could talk about a WB type show and people would know you meant something like "Buffy" (even if that moved to UPN for a couple of disappointing seasons) or "Smallville" or "Charmed" or "Gilmore Girls" or even -- gurk -- "Seventh Heaven," something with youth appeal that the parents wouldn't mind watching too. And UPN forged an identity the last network that seems to recall that not everyone in the world is Caucasian. Now it's all going to get mushed together.

Hopefully, when the new network plans its schedule, UPN's "Veronica Mars" will make the cut. I might as well put in a good word for the WB's "Reba," which has been one of the few good traditional sitcoms on the air for the last few years (though I haven't watched it this season, so maybe it's gone downhill). And the article's mention of the "Kids WB" programming block reminds me that it was the creation of the WB that eventually led to the downfall of the WB televsion animation department -- taking cartoons like "Animaniacs" and "Batman" away from their excellent time slots on Fox and sticking them on the struggling new network, where they were shuffled around, re-tooled and eventually dropped in favor of "Pokemon." Sad memories.

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