Features
6.25.18: a rebel alliance of quality content
our facebook page our twitter page intrepid media feature page rss feed
FEATURES  :  GALLERYhover for drop down menu  :  STUDIOhover for drop down menu  :  ABOUThover for drop down menu sign in

i want my wb
classic tv network lives again
by michelle von euw
5.9.08
television

For a brief few weeks between my first two real post-college jobs, I took a temp position at a new television station. It was an exciting time for the WB: the network had just gone national, consolidating local stations that had been purveyors of fine television like the "Creature Double Feature" and kept a new generation engrossed in the trials of the Brady kids. The WB, and its counterpart, UPN, hoped to follow in FOX’s wildly successful footsteps by becoming the fifth and sixth national networks, in a time where cable and pay stations were grabbing their own niches with specialized audiences.

Neither the WB nor UPN ever had a broad enough appeal to reach everyone, and certainly, that was never their intention. Both networks hoped to capture a young viewership who would then grow with their channel, imitating the success FOX had with shows like "The Simpsons" and "Married... with Children." Every day I’d arrive in my temp office and watch the ad execs work the phones, cajoling advertising dollars out of tight-fisted local businesses that were skeptical about the product at best.

“Tell them to watch ‘Savannah,’” I’d say. For four years of college, I’d watched two television shows -– “SportsCenter” and “The X-Files” -– but as a recent graduate with evening time suddenly on my hands, I was already hooked on the brand-new network.

“Savannah” was my first WB love, and it was everything I wanted in a television show: three pretty Southern girls with great clothes and interesting jobs, loaded up with all the sex, intrigue, mystery, murder, mayhem, and laughs a twenty-two year old girl could ever want on her small screen.

I was apparently the only one who appreciated the trashy appeal of “Savannah,” however, because by the time I’d left my temp job at the WB, the soapy drama with the cute boys and all those accents was gone [Editor: Yeah! And just when things were getting good with Reese's murdered fiance Travis' long-lost identical twin!], replaced by some silly-sounding show based on a bad movie about cheerleaders and vampires.

Little did I know that the lame show that’d killed off my beloved “Savannah” would eventually become my all-time top seed, the best television show in the history of television shows, the series against which all other television series would be compared. My appetite for over-arching narratives and strong characters had been whet by “Twin Peaks;” now, finally, several years later, there was finally a show that was off-beat and familiar at the same time, a show that turned the horror genre on its side, putting all the power in the hands of a little blonde high school girl and her somewhat geeky friends.

At its best, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was perfect television: whip-smart, complicated, hilarious, suspenseful, heart-breaking. It rewarded the viewers who watched every episode, sometimes more than once, who went on line to compare notes with strangers and review the tiniest of details. Over its seven-year run –- five years on the WB, and the final two on UPN –- the show wasn’t perfect; the plot hit several creative snags once Buffy and her friends graduated from high school, and, not so coincidentally, the character of Angel was given his own spin-off, dividing not only the cast, but creator Joss Whedon’s attentions.

While “Buffy” -– along with every other show on either the WB or UPN –- never got stellar ratings, the cult following it (and the shows that followed, like “Dawson’s Creek,” “Charmed,” and “The OC”) garnered meant a smooth transition to DVD, and now every episode of the show is available for purchase at Costco or rental on Netflix, or whatever legal way you choose to obtain classic television content.

But not every show made by the Warner Brothers, broadcast on their late, lamented network has received this treatment. Many shows linger in the limbo between network and DVD, tied up by sluggish sales projections or music rights, sometimes popping up in syndication on pay stations like the ABC Family Channel, but often, existing beyond the reach of interested viewers.

That’s where theWB.com comes in.

Perhaps encouraged by the success of sites such as Hulu (an online warehouse for content from FOX and NBC, containing shows as old as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” to as recent as last night’s “Battlestar Galactica”), the WB is re-launching as a website for content new and classic, for viewers who cannot get enough of the shows that drove the pop culture-loving 18-34 demographic during the decade of the WB’s run.

According to the website’s mission statement, the goal of theWB.com “is to allow you to find and enjoy iconic, dramatic video content when, where and how you want it.” The network has started a Facebook page, aiming directly for its key demographic, and since the beginning of May, has gathered over a thousand fans, all clamoring for WB content, and anticipating the online presence of “Veronica Mars” and “Gilmore Girls.”

While the website will perhaps eventually be known for the new content it hopes to provide, what will initially attract the most attention is its access to shows not currently available in any legal way. For me, the highlight of this announcement is that the website will contain episodes of “Everwood,” a brilliant, complicated drama that ran for four years on the WB without me ever paying it much attention until its very last episode. “Everwood” was one of the shows that didn’t survive the merger of the WB and UPN, purportedly because it wasn’t sexy enough to appeal to the networks’ youngest demographic. When the WB died, “Everwood” died with it, and, other than a four-month span on the ABC Family Channel, the show’s second through fourth seasons have been completely unavailable.

This summer, “Everwood” will live again. As someone who missed the original episodes (and didn’t have enough foresight or room on her DVR to save it during its only run in syndication), I’m looking forward to having access to the show, to be able to trace character arcs and plot developments from the standpoint of knowing where it all ends, and to be able to recommend the show again, instead of just saying, “It’s great, you’ll love it, but wait, the season one DVDs end with a wicked cliffhanger, so, nevermind.”

So the WB will once again be relevant. Now, if only I can convince the website to do what the network would not: bring back "Savannah."


ABOUT MICHELLE VON EUW

Originally from Boston, Michelle is a writer, editor, instructor, obsessive sports fan, loud talker, quick laugher, new mom, and chances are, she watches more television than you do. Follow her on Twitter at michellevoneuw

more about michelle von euw

IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...

kiss and television
why watch when you can read about watching?
by michelle von euw
topic: television
published: 8.6.01


the seven year itch
why can't tv do right by marriage?
by michelle von euw
topic: television
published: 10.10.08





COMMENTS

jael mchenry
5.9.08 @ 2:40p

"Savannah" was AWESOME.

Getting the cast back together would probably be pretty easy, since no one's doing anything except Ray Wise and George Eads... seriously, where's Jamie Luner been? Loved her!



Intrepid Media is built by Intrepid Company and runs on Dash