Un­der­rated CW adds Bri­tish se­ries to lineup

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST/TELEVISION - MICHAEL STOREY

Judg­ing by my email, not too many read­ers pay much at­ten­tion to what’s go­ing on with The CW. I even had a reader a cou­ple of weeks ago who asked what The CW was.

The much smaller fifth broad­cast net­work is partly to blame for the prob­lem — if it even sees it as a prob­lem. The CW seems per­fectly con­tent to tar­get a niche au­di­ence and let the Big 4 net­works bat­tle it out for ma­jor rat­ings. Here’s some back­ground. The “CW” is an odd name, but it comes from the first let­ters of its par­ent cor­po­ra­tions, CBS and Warner Bros. The CW was formed in 2006 when its two mini-net­work pre­de­ces­sors, UPN and The WB, folded af­ter 11 sea­sons of money-los­ing frus­tra­tion.

The CW’s early pro­gram­ming con­sisted mostly of the best of left­over UPN and WB shows and was aimed at younger au­di­ences, es­pe­cially women.

Shows sur­viv­ing from The WB in­cluded Gil­more Girls, One Tree Hill, Reba, Smal­lville and Su­per­nat­u­ral. UPN con­trib­uted, among oth­ers, Amer­ica’s Next Top Model, Veron­ica Mars, Ev­ery­body Hates Chris and WWE Smack­Down.

Later se­ries, such as Gos­sip Girl and The Vam­pire Diaries had new ap­peal and so­lid­i­fied The CW base as it tried to ex­pand be­yond young women.

Since 2012, The CW has seen even more suc­cess with its ac­tion se­ries such as Ar­row, The Flash and DC’s Le­gends of To­mor­row, as well as its crit­i­cally ac­claimed come­dies Jane the Vir­gin and Crazy Ex-Girl­friend.

Last sea­son, Su­per­girl moved over from big sis­ter net­work CBS, and fresh­man Riverdale man­aged to earn a sopho­more sea­son de­spite mixed rat­ings.

That brings us up to date and the de­but of a CW ac­tion­ad­ven­ture sum­mer se­ries im­ported from the Brits. It’s the best of both worlds — ac­tion and Bri­tish ac­cents.

Hooten & the Lady de­buts at 8 p.m. to­day and fol­lows the “high-oc­tane” ad­ven­tures of two glo­be­trot­ting trea­sure hun­ters who ven­ture forth to re­cover price­less ar­ti­facts.

I love it when net­work pub­li­cists de­scribe a show as “high oc­tane.” Who even knows what that means any­more?

Ulysses Hooten is a ma­cho, fast-talk­ing Amer­i­can ad­ven­turer played by Michael Lan­des ( CSI, Love Soup), and “the lady” is strait­laced, aris­to­cratic Bri­tish Mu­seum cu­ra­tor Lady Alexan­dra Lindo- Parker, por­trayed by Ophe­lia Lovi­bond ( El­e­men­tary).

Added bonus: The al­ways de­light­ful Jane Sey­mour has a re­cur­ring role as Alex’s mum, Lady Lindo- Parker, whose sole pur­pose in life ev­i­dently is to try to or­ga­nize Alex’s wed­ding to her fi­ance Ed­ward (Jonathan Bai­ley).

Want to feel old? Sey­mour, a for­mer Bond girl ( Live and Let Die, 1973) and star of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, is 66 now. Trivia: Sey­mour’s birth name was Joyce Pene­lope Wil­helmina Franken­berg. She changed her name to that of Henry VIII’s third wife be­cause it was not un­usual back in the day to take a more mar­ketable stage name. (Ex­am­ples: Cary Grant’s real name was Archibald Alec Leach; John Wayne’s was the de­cid­edly less manly Mar­ion Robert Mor­ri­son.)

Hooten and Alex will have eight episodes to de­light us. Their far-rang­ing ad­ven­tures take us from Siberia and South Amer­ica to the Hi­malayas and Rome.

Tonight’s open­ing episode finds Alex trav­el­ing to the Ama­zon in search of the leg­endary lost camp of Vic­to­rian ex­plorer Percy Fawcett (18671925?) who dis­ap­peared. One thing leads to an­other, she’s joined by Hooten, and the duo stum­ble upon El Do­rado, myth­i­cal city of gold.

One ad­di­tional thing — Hooten and Alex are po­lar op­po­sites and don’t re­ally get along. That al­ways makes for good TV.

Does all this sound like fun, light sum­mer en­ter­tain­ment? If so, give Hooten & the Lady a try.

Pro­gram­ming note: As is its habit, The CW will de­but its fall lineup af­ter the dust set­tles from the other net­works. This year it will be the week of Oct. 9.

High on the list of an­tic­i­pated shows is the new mil­i­tary/con­spir­acy/soap opera drama Valor at 8 p.m. Oct. 9. It stars Matt Barr ( Hell­cats) and Christina Ochoa ( An­i­mal King­dom).

Penn & Teller: Fool Us, 7 p.m. to­day, The CW. The magic com­pe­ti­tion’s fourth sea­son kicks off fea­tur­ing ma­gi­cians Richard Turner, Young & Strange, Kayla Drescher and Mike Su­per. Alyson Han­ni­gan re­turns as host.

Wil­lie en­core. In case you missed it last year, AETN is re­peat­ing Wil­lie Nel­son: The Li­brary of Congress Gersh­win Prize for Pop­u­lar Song at 9 p.m. Fri­day. It is an hour and a half well worth your time.

Nel­son was hon­ored for his long ca­reer, which spans six decades and more than 200 al­bums. The im­pres­sive list of per­form­ers in­cludes Rosanne Cash, Neil Young, Paul Si­mon, Raul Malo, Edie Brick­ell and Ali­son Krauss.

The TV Col­umn ap­pears Sun­day, Tues­day and Thurs­day. Email:

mstorey@arkansason­line.com

The CW Bri­tish im­port Hooten & the Lady stars Michael Lan­des and Ophe­lia Lovi­bond as glo­be­trot­ters track­ing down his­tor­i­cal ar­ti­facts.

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