“………Or Five Reasons to Give the CW a Chance.”

by Kate Passis

Let’s not get carried away. I’m not recommending that you track down episodes of the thankfully departed H8r or get into America’s Next Top Model. If Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill were your type of thing, you’d already be watching them. While some of the other programming on the network might be instantly forgettable, one genre the CW (and its predecessors, the WB and UPN) consistently does well is supernatural drama — especially the teenage variety.

The Vampire Diaries

There are 160(+)-year-old vampire Salvatore brothers and Elena, the 17-year-old girl they both love/love to hate. Plus werewolves, ghosts, witches and doppelgangers — luckily, the moody, voice-over journal-writing gimmick is abandoned pretty early on in the first season, as are the attempts to cram a new song down the viewers’ throats with each scene change. By the time the first few episodes are over, the show becomes a somewhat soapy and thoroughly enjoyably hour of television escapism.
Worth watching for: very attractive people in their twenties (or beyond) pretending to be teenage-ish undead; Elena’s younger brother searching Bing for “vampires” and “back from the dead.” Without irony.
How to catch up: It’s currently in season three, with seasons one and two available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

If you arrived late to the party, you might have missed the real reason for the Twilight season. Originally aired in 1997 on The WB and ending in 2003 on UPN, Buffy provided seven seasons of undead ass-kicking, sharp rejoinders and plenty of soul-searching drama without getting too maudlin.
Worth watching for: compelling storylines and main characters who are easy to empathize with. While there’s plenty of violence, the show keeps it to a prime time network level.
The show may be dead, but: All seven seasons are available on DVD.

Supernatural

Brothers, again. This time, it’s Sam and Dean Winchester, a pair of demon-hunting siblings who have more than their share of baggage and a trunk full of esoteric weapons. If you don’t like Kansas (the state) or Kansas (the band), you’d best steer clear. The show begins in Lawrence and is mostly set in and around the Midwest, and Kansas’s “Carry On Wayward Son” launches many of the episode recaps and all of the season finales. The acting’s a bit wooden at times, but there are some really funny moments —mostly because the show never takes itself too seriously.
Worth watching for: lots of pop culture references — literally, tons of ’em —, a solid classic rock soundtrack and a plot arc in which a fictional series of books coincide with the storyline.
How to catch up: Supernatural is currently in its seventh season, with all of the previous seasons available on both DVD and Blu-ray.

Smallville

The beginning of the Superman saga is set in a small Kansas town. Picking up its main story when Clark Kent begins high school, the show follows him as he (eventually) matures into the familiar character of the DC comics. Framed by the turbulence of adolescence, this long-running show explored loss, betrayal, politics, dating and meteor-induced superpowers. Along the way, several familiar faces from the DC Comics Universe are introduced, including Green Arrow, Aquaman, and Hawkman.
Worth watching for: a cast that is very committed to its characters, and though you may know the end (Lois! Clark!), you don’t know how they’re going to get there …
How to catch up:  Seasons one through 10 are available on DVD and seasons six through 10 are also on Blu-ray.

Not a supernatural drama, but certainly deserving of consideration:

Veronica Mars

Kristin Bell plays a smart-mouthed high school detective who solves cases big and small while treading the dangerous waters of life as an ostracized teenager in a privileged town. The dialogue is snappy and the plots — throughout both the episodes and the series — are engaging. Despite its critical praise and devoted fan base, the show went into hiatus in its third season to make room for The Pussycat Dolls Present: and was eventually canceled.
This show may be dead, but: All three seasons are available on DVD.

You can either download seasons of these shows on iTunes, or check out your local Slackers to see if they’ve got them pre-owned!