The CW today became the first U.S. network to set a “return to normal” date when fresh seasons of new and returning series will get on the air. On what would’ve been the day of its upfront presentation in New York, the network announced that it will launch its 2020-21 season in January, while airing a lineup of acquired scripted series and alternative programming, as well as the conclusion of Supernatural, in the fall.
“The CW will start its new season in January 2021 when we will launch our regular primetime schedule,” the CW President Mark Pedowitz said at the top of the network’s press call today.
The late start of the season will not impact the size of the orders, with series still producing seasons of lengths in line of what they typically do, from 13 to 22 episodes, depending on the show. That will stretch the season to July-August (with a May “midseason”), making for a very short summer break until the CW’s 2021-22 season starts in October as usual. The final episodes from some CW shows’ current seasons, which could not be filmed because of the pandemic, will be shot and included in their next seasons, Pedowitz said. The network also is planning a smaller version of its traditional Arrowverse crossover to air in late Q1-early Q2 2021.
That is all if there is not further major production disruption from the coronavirus pandemic this fall or next year. While “we take an optimistic view at the moment,” Pedowitz acknowledged the CW also continues to look at acquisitions of English-language scripted series and is in discussions on multiple projects as a contingency, in case Hollywood production does not resume by fall.
The CW has been marching to its own drum by breaking with tradition several years ago to start rolling out its fall season in October, several weeks after the official start of the season.
Here is the CW’s January schedule, following by a brief analysis, the network’s Q4 schedule and descriptions of the CW’s new series:
THE CW’S NEW SEASON PRIMETIME SCHEDULE EFFECTIVE JANUARY 2021
(New Programs in UPPER CASE)
8-9 PM — All American
9-10 PM — Black Lightning
8-9 PM — The Flash
9-10 PM — SUPERMAN & LOIS
8-9 PM — Riverdale
9-10 PM — Nancy Drew
8-9 PM — WALKER
9-10 PM — Legacies
8-9 PM — Penn & Teller: Fool Us (New Night)
9-9:30 PM — Whose Line Is It Anyway? (New Night)
9:30-10 PM — Whose Line Is It Anyway? (New Night)
8-9 PM — Batwoman
9-10 PM — Charmed (New Night)
The network’s January schedule features new series Superman & Lois, paired with DC flagship The Flash; and Walker, starring Supernatural‘s Jared Padalecki, taking over Supernatural’s Thursday berth.
The schedule is close to last fall’s (sans series that have ended their run) as the network is betting on “stability and compatibility” with intact Monday and Wednesday lineups, Pedowitz said.
The biggest change is the introduction of an all-alternative Friday for the first time ever in-season with veterans Penn & Teller: Fool Us and Whose Line Is It Anyway? (The network has used an hour of unscripted programming on the night, most recently during the 2015-16 season.) The decision was made based on the fact that the two reality stalwarts’ “have worked well everywhere no matter where we have put them on the schedule,” Pedowitz said.
The new Friday lineup displaces last fall’s Friday dramas Dynasty and Charmed, which is relocating to Sunday, replacing Supergirl, which is being pushed, likely to accommodate the pregnancy of star Melissa Benoist.
On the CW’s midseason bench, Supergirl and Dynasty join fellow returning dramas Roswell, New Mexico, In the Dark and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, as well as new series Kung Fu and The Republic of Sarah.
The CW’s Q4 schedule features the final seven episodes of Supernatural, a second season of CW Seed-generated Two Sentence Horror Stories, scripted acquisitions The Outpost and Pandora, which the CW has been airing as original summer series, as well as the newly acquired Tell Me a Story, Swamp Thing, Coroner and Dead Pixels, whose seasons are in the can.
Supernatural has two episodes to film, with the rest in post-production. The Outpost and Pandora also were impacted by the coronavirus-related production shutdown but both also have a significant portion of their seasons completed, so the hope is that all will be ready to air in the fall. Some of the scripted series, which produce 13-episode seasons, may start airing a little earlier to conclude their runs before January. The rest of the Q4 schedule is devoted to alternative fare.
THE CW’S FOURTH QUARTER 2020 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE
8-8:30 PM — Whose Line Is It Anyway?
8:30-9 PM — Whose Line Is It Anyway?
9-10 PM — Penn & Teller: Fool Us
8-9 PM — Swamp Thing
9-10 PM — Tell Me A Story
8-8:30 PM — Two Sentence Horror Stories
8:30-9 PM — Dead Pixels
9-10 PM — Coroner
8-9 PM — Supernatural
9-10 PM — The Outpost
8-8:30 PM — World’s Funniest Animals
SUPERMAN & LOIS — In SUPERMAN & LOIS, after years of facing megalomaniacal supervillains, monsters wreaking havoc on Metropolis, and alien invaders intent on wiping out the human race, the world’s most famous superhero, The Man of Steel aka Clark Kent (Tyler Hoechlin, “Teen Wolf”) and comic books’ most famous journalist, Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch, “Grimm”), come face to face with one of their greatest challenges ever – dealing with all the stress, pressures and complexities that come with being working parents in today’s society. Complicating the already daunting job of raising two boys, Clark and Lois must also concern themselves with whether or not their sons Jonathan (Jordan Elsass, “Little Fires Everywhere”) and Jordan (Alexander Garfin, “The Peanuts Movie”) could inherit their father’s Kryptonian superpowers as they grow older. Returning to Smallville to handle some Kent family business, Clark and Lois are reacquainted with Lana Lang (Emmanuelle Chriqui, “Entourage”), a local loan officer who also happens to be Clark’s first love, and her Fire Chief husband Kyle Cushing (Erik Valdez, “Graceland”). The adults aren’t the only ones rediscovering old friendships in Smallville as the Kent sons are reacquainted with Lana and Kyle’s rebellious daughter, Sarah (Inde Navarrette, “Wander Darkly”). Of course, there’s never a dull moment in the life of a superhero, especially with Lois’ father, General Samuel Lane (Dylan Walsh, “Nip/Tuck”) looking for Superman to vanquish a villain or save the day at a moment’s notice. Meanwhile, Superman and Lois’ return to idyllic Smallville is set to be upended when a mysterious stranger (Wolé Parks, “All American”) enters their lives. Based on the characters from DC created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, SUPERMAN & LOIS is written and executive produced by Todd Helbing (“The Flash”) and executive produced by Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Geoff Johns. The series is from Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television.
WALKER — a reimagining of the long-running series “Walker, Texas Ranger,” stars Jared Padalecki (“Supernatural”) as Cordell Walker, a widower and father of two with his own moral code, who returns home to Austin after being undercover for two years, only to discover there’s harder work to be done at home. He’ll attempt to reconnect with his creative and thoughtful son (Kale Culley, “Me, Myself and I”) and his headstrong, somewhat rebellious teenaged daughter (Violet Brinson, “Sharp Objects”) and navigate clashes with his family – an ADA brother (Keegan Allen, “Pretty Little Liars”) who stepped in during Walker’s absence, his perceptive mother (Molly Hagan, “Herman’s Head”) and his traditional rancher father (Mitch Pileggi, “The X-Files”). Walker’s former colleague is now his Ranger Captain, (Coby Bell, “The Game”). Walker finds unexpected common ground with his new partner (one of the first women in Texas Rangers’ history) played by Lindsey Morgan (“The 100”), while growing increasingly suspicious about the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death. The show also stars Jeff Pierre as Trey Barnett. WALKER is written and executive produced by Anna Fricke (“Being Human,” “Valor”), and executive produced by Dan Lin and Lindsay Liberatore and Jared Padalecki. WALKER is from CBS Television Studios in association with Rideback.
KUNG FU — A quarter-life crisis causes a young Chinese-American woman, Nicky Shen (Olivia Liang), to drop out of college and go on a life-changing journey to an isolated monastery in China. But when she returns to San Francisco, she finds her hometown is overrun with crime and corruption and her own parents (Tzi Ma and Kheng Hua Tan) are at the mercy of a powerful Triad. Nicky will rely on her tech-savvy sister (Shannon Dang), pre-med brother (Jon Prasida), Assistant District Attorney and ex-boyfriend (Gavin Stenhouse), and new love interest (Eddie Liu) as well as her martial arts skills and Shaolin values to protect her community and bring criminals to justice … all while searching for the ruthless assassin (Gwendoline Yeo) who killed her Shaolin mentor and is now targeting her. Inspired by the original series created by Ed Spielman, KUNG FU is from Warner Bros. Television in association with Quinn’s House and Berlanti Productions, with writer/executive producer Christina M. Kim (“Blindspot,” “Lost”) and executive producers Martin Gero (“Blindspot,” “LA Complex”), Greg Berlanti (“Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Riverdale”) and Sarah Schechter (“Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Riverdale”).
THE REPUBLIC OF SARAH — The bucolic tranquility of Greylock, New Hampshire is upended when a massive vein of coltan – an incredibly valuable mineral used in tech – is discovered under the town. State-backed mining company Lydon Industries swoops in with plans to extract the mineral … plans that include wiping Greylock off the map. With her friends and family in danger of losing their homes, rebellious high school teacher Sarah Cooper (Stella Baker) vows to stop Lydon’s bulldozers. It won’t be easy. Leading Lydon’s efforts is Sarah’s estranged brother, Danny Cooper (Luke Mitchell). After enduring a difficult childhood at the hands of his mother, former state senator Ellen Cooper (Megan Follows), Danny is eager to exact his revenge on a community he feels abandoned him. Sarah enlists her friends – fellow teacher Corinne Dearborn (Hope Lauren), police officer Amy “AJ” Johnson (Nia Holloway), and diner manager Grover Simms (Ian Duff) – in the fight against Danny, but there seems to be no way to stop the town’s impending demise … Until Sarah proposes an oddly intriguing solution: Greylock could declare independence. Citing various historical maps, she explains that the land on which Greylock sits was never properly claimed by the United States. If Sarah and her friends can convince the town to vote for independence, Greylock would gain international sovereignty and could protect its land for good. With the help of a group of supporters that includes three of her teenage students – LA transplant Maya Jimenez (Izabella Alvarez), introspective outsider Tyler Easterbrook (Forrest Goodluck), and preppy “popular girl” Bella Whitmore (Landry Bender) – Sarah and her friends win the vote. And after a federal judge agrees that Greylock isn’t – and never was – part of the United States, the town becomes a new nation. Now, Sarah and her allies must confront an even more daunting task: building a country from scratch. Executive Produced by Jeffrey Paul King (“Elementary”), Marc Webb (“Why Women Kill), Mark Martin (“Rendition”), Jeff Grosvenor and Leo Pearlman, THE REPUBLIC OF SARAH is a production of CBS Television Studios in association with Fulwell 73 and Black Lamb.