The last network to present during upfronts week always has a scrappy underdog quality to it, but the CW has become the home of some of our favorite broadcast shows, across the board. So it’s always exciting to look at how they’re selling their upcoming hits, including a classic nighttime soap updated for today, a military drama, and the newest superhero to join the Berlanti-verse.
This trailer makes the relaunch of the iconic ’80s franchise look like basically any other “rich people behaving badly” trailer… though the addition of literal catfighting does put it a step ahead of shows like “Big Little Lies” and “Gossip Girl” — Reese Witherspoon never ripped off anyone’s wig (but she totally could of). A few major plot points do get spoiled along the way, so this is definitely not a trailer to watch if you want to avoid twists. But Elizabeth Gilles gets to shine as Fallon Carrington, and Nathalie Kelley as new rival/step-mother Krystle Carrington looks to be a likely match. With a gay storyline and at least one person of color, this update doesn’t look like anything super-special, but we’re convinced of its soapy core.
To be honest, my expectations were low here, but I found myself surprised by the way the trailer for “Valor” went beyond your standard ultra-patriotic military drama and delivered some real intrigue and shades of grey. The set-up of the mission gone wrong, and resulting POWs, plays nicely into the human story of the two soldiers who did make it back safely. We’re assessing negative points for including one too many twists, including a complicated thread involving a CIA operative, but overall it’s impressive enough.
Basically, “Life Sentence” looks like this year’s “No Tomorrow,” which isn’t the most encouraging statement give that “No Tomorrow” got canceled, but the trailer sets up an intriguing premise: Stella (Lucy Hale) finds out that she’s no longer dying of cancer, and it turns out that there are a lot of repercussions, not all of which are great news. Hale proves charming, the trailer manages to set up the complexity of the situation with relatively quickly, and there’s some real pathos included along with the light comedy. It feels like an easy sell for the CW audience that already loves “Jane the Virgin.”
It’s kind of weird and confusing that the gang being fought by Black Lightning is called “The 100,” right? Also it’s kind of weird and confusing that a CW superhero show stars a man old enough to have grown daughters. But judged on its own merits, the trailer for “Black Lightning” teases a superhero whose storyline feels fresh and relevant to today, as well as solid action and engaging stars.
Based on this trailer, I suspect that at some point Jefferson Pierce gets killed and his daughter (who narrates the trailer, presumably to distract people from the fact that Cress Williams is far older than the network’s traditional demographic) takes his place. If that’s the case, then kudos to the CW for choosing not to spoil anything. If that’s not the case, then we’ll look forward to Jefferson/Black Lightning as the newest addition to the Berlanti/DC universe.
As an added bonus, check out the below sizzle reel released by the CW, teasing the action, drama, and attractive stars that “dare to defy.” It’s not a great tagline, but there are some great shows here.