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WB fortifies its teen formula

Bolstered by two new one-hour teen dramas-Roswell on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and Popular in the same slot on Thursdays-the WB will remain hard to beat in teens and young adults during its six nights per week on air. With last...
September 1, 1999

Bolstered by two new one-hour teen dramas-Roswell on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and Popular in the same slot on Thursdays-the WB will remain hard to beat in teens and young adults during its six nights per week on air. With last year’s hits Felicity and Charmed still crowned as youth market leaders, and with returning series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the network’s highest-rated show Dawson’s Creek both pulling in high teen numbers, the WB is gearing up to break its fourth quarter ’98 tie with Fox for first place in the teen ratings race. For the same period, the WB came out ahead of Fox in female teens with an impressive 5.5 audience share. (Fox garnered a 4.2 share.)

This year’s teen debut duo is designed to further that success. Developing the theme that ‘teenagers are the aliens among us,’ executive producer Jason Katims rekindles some of the moodiness that made his series My So Called Life into a teen cult classic with Roswell, premiering in the coveted post-Dawson’s Creek time slot. Katims lends a David Lynch-ish feel to this tale of a teen girl (played by newcomer Shiri Appleby) who falls in love with an adolescent alien named Max (Jason Behr from Dawson’s Creek) after he spontaneously performs a miracle healing on her following a shoot-out. It turns out that Max, his sister and his best friend are the sole survivors of the UFO crash that put Roswell, New Mexico on the map. If the box office success of The Blair Witch Project proved teens love bizarre detail, this TV series will also strike a chord. (In the pilot, for instance, the aliens douse all of their food with Tabasco sauce.) Another promising aspect is the Romeo and Juliet-esque, obstacle-ridden romance between the two lead characters.

Immediately preceding Charmed, Popular hones in on teen clique conflict, as in-crowd queen Brooke and unpopular teen journalist Sam become stepsisters when their parents marry. With the entire drama centering around who’s hot and who’s not, it’s likely to pale in comparison to the more complex story line and visual style of Roswell.

The first animated teen show to grace the WB’s airwaves, Mission Hill was created by former staffers on The Simpsons. The series features a band of offbeat youths who coexist in an urban apartment, sharing their first adventures out in the world without parents. The half-hour show will air on Fridays at 9 p.m., preceding The Jamie Foxx Show.

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