While the entire entertainment industry—along with the rest of the civilized world—remains in a disturbing stasis over the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears that The CW is proactively charting a course toward the light at the end of its own dilatory tunnel, officially scheduling the return of the network’s lineup.
The CW has revealed January 2021 as the window in which its new season—what would have been the 2020-2021 season—of shows will premiere. The revealed schedule confirms returning favorites such as DC Comics shows Black Lightning, The Flash and Batwoman, along with genre entries Riverdale, Nancy Drew, Legacies and Charmed.
The full January 2021-launching CW primetime schedule consists of the following:
8-9 PM — All American
9-10 PM — Black Lightning
8-9 PM — The Flash
9-10 PM — Superman & Lois (New Series)
8-9 PM — Riverdale
9-10 PM — Nancy Drew
8-9 PM — Walker (New Series)
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)
Interestingly, conspicuous in their absences are DC shows Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, which are currently playing out their respective coronavirus-delayed 2019-2020 season runs; an especially odd development with the scheduled presence of a debuting spinoff of the former, Superman & Lois. The 2021 schedule also reveals a major timeslot shift, notably with Charmed moving from Friday to—the show’s original night—Sundays, where it replaces the aforementioned missing Supergirl. Also missing on this lineup is The Canaries, a planned spinoff to the recently-ended Arrow, on which it was set via a backdoor pilot episode. However, it might be premature to read too much into the absences, since the 2021 schedule still reflects the parameters of the network’s pre-pandemic full-slate season renewal, with the same amount of episodes.
The network also managed to provide a measure of relief to Supernatural viewers from a most frustrating predicament regarding the status of the final two unproduced episodes of the stalwart series, revealing that the rest of the season will finally run this fall. The series is currently in the midst of its fifteenth and final season, which aired Episode 13 of 20 on March 23 before the shut-downs were implemented that month, which gives Supernatural a 7-episode finish line sprint. The timing will prove fortuitous for the premiere of Jared Padalecki’s starring role on the Thursday-slotted Walker, a reimagining of classic Chuck Norris TV vehicle Walker, Texas Ranger.
While The CW did not reveal the full reasoning for this January 2021 goal post reset, it’s clearly a move made under the modus operandi of optimism about the state of the health crisis by that time, which would be about a year after the global spread of COVID-19; a point in time in which a vaccine might, in the very least, be close to being developed. Indeed, CW president Mark Pedowitz uses that “o-word” in his statement, albeit with a measure of caution of about intrinsic uncertainty of the state of the world, stating that, “[While] we take an optimistic view at the moment,” the network is also bolstering a backup lineup of scripted series, as evidenced by its acquisitions of recently canceled streaming service offerings like DC Universe’s Swamp Thing and CBS All Access’s Tell Me a Story, joined by The Outpost, Pandora, Dead Pixels and Coroner.
The subsequent midseason will also see The CW debut freshman dramas in the female-fronted reboot of Kung Fu, which stars Olivia Liang, and small-town New Hampshire-set drama The Republic of Sarah, which stars Stella Baker.
It will be interesting to see if The CW’s 2021 schedule is able to stand up to the static circumstances of the global health crisis. Regardless, it is actually encouraging to see plans being made for a post-coronavirus world, even if said plans are perpetually in peril.