If there’s a TV award for pandemic patience, it should go to the CW network.
Others scrambled to get many of their shows on the air by November; CW simply waited. Now – midway through the season – most of its shows are starting their seasons. The result, as usual, is mixed:
– One show is surprisingly good. The first season of “Batwoman” (8 p.m. Sundays), shown here, was beautifully crafted, in a grim and gloomy way. Then its star quit; the show found a way to keep the quality, while brightening a bit. “We wanted to add a little fun to the show,” said producer Caroline Dries, “because it is so bleak.”
– Another is surprisingly not-good. “All American” (8 p.m. Mondays) thas been CW’s nod to serious drama, with a football star moving from his ghetto school to Beverly Hills splendor. Now it has him return to his old school. It’s an interesting step, but the opening crises feel false.
– Two are in their usual form. “Riverdale” and “Nancy Drew” (8 and 9 p.m. Wednesdays) offer heightened views of high school and post-school life, awash in ghosts, gang wars,, serial killers and a snuff film. They’re well-made, in their own extreme way.
– Two will arrive soon. “Legacies” (9 p.m. Thursdays) and “Charmed” (9 p.m. Sundays) didn’t have advance screeners available.
– And the other three will wait until next month. “Black Lightning” arrives Feb. 8. “The Flash” and “Superman & Lois” on Feb. 23. For now, Tuesdays will have fill-in shows – “Two Sentence Horror Stories” and “Trickster” – that try hard. “The number of very serious topics is impressive,” said Kimani Ray Smith, who directed the season’s first and last “Horror Stories”
That leaves the one show that’s completely new – and has the best shot at a broad audience.
CW shows usually stay rooted in youth culture. With the exception of “All American,” they’re based on comic books and/or include the supernatural. But now comes “Walker,” debuting at 8 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 21).
It’s a prequel to a show (“Walker, Texas Ranger”) that older viewers remember. It follows a traditional formula – catching crooks, with no ghosts in sight. And it stars Jared Padalecki, whose previous show (“Supernatural”) thrived in this timeslot.
Certainly, the show tries to fit modern tastes. It adds a tough Latina partner who’s quick to thump Walker (verbally) or crooks (physically). And it gives Walker lots of personal problems.
The first part works well; Lindsey Morgan is excellent as the tough-talking, tough-hitting Micki Ramirez. The second part may oversucceed; Walker soon becomes a downbeat drunk who seems to ignore his kids unless they’re in trouble.
He’s difficult to like – but we may have time to get around to it. “Walker, Texas Ranger” did nine seasons, “Supernatural” did 15 … and Padalecki talks about “Walker” doing 15 more.