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A little over a year after The Vampire Diaries sunk its fangs into viewers for the final time, Paul Wesley reteamed with TVD co-creator Kevin Williamson for another dark, though different, kind of series with the fairy tale drama-thriller Tell Me a Story. After streaming for two seasons on the genre-friendly CBS All Access, the digital service's execs decided against a "happily ever after" conclusion and cancelled Tell Me a Story. It's obviously bad news for fans of the show and its stars, but may be a silver lining.
The news of Tell Me a Story's cancellation at CBS All Access more or less coincided with the announcement that the Paul Wesley series is one of four recent TV shows picked up for second-run airings by The CW. (More on the other three projects below.) The network aims to bring the shows not only to its primetime linear TV schedule, but also to its streaming site.
For one thing, landing a second home at The CW will almost definitely give Tell Me a Story a boost in its average viewership. Granted, The CW's shows regularly fare worse than shows on the other broadcast networks, but its more popular series presumably draw bigger weekly audiences than a variety of more niche streaming shows. And more eyeballs obviously means more people will be talking about the show in the future, which could potentially convince CW execs to take a chance on a third season. It's a long shot, sure, but not the most outlandish idea.
CBS All Access hasn't been very forthcoming with its subscriber numbers, nor its original programming stats, at least beyond touting the increased subscriptions whenever new Star Trek series debut, so it's not exactly clear how well Tell Me a Story did, but its cancellation after two seasons doesn't speak too highly of the totals.
However, The CW has a long history with Paul Wesley and Kevin Williamson (not to mention some other cast and crew members), thanks to The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, so the network's core audience might very well flock to the new show when it debuts. If only the network could also secure the rights to Ian Somerhalder's shortlived Netflix horror thriller V Wars. Interestingly enough, Wesley returned to The CW earlier this year to direct an episode of Batwoman, though there's no sign yet of him joining the Arrowverse proper. (But cross those fingers anyway.)
At this point, it's not known if The CW will choose to debut Tell Me a Story Season 1 during the summer, or if it will wait until the fall. Season 2 will remain a CBS All Access exclusive until the final months of 2020, so it will likely get used as a midseason entry, though that obviously hasn't been confirmed yet.
Beyond Tell Me a Story, arguably The CW's biggest acquirement is the criminally short-lived horror-drama Swamp Thing, which lasted for one truncated season on DC Universe, and was cancelled the week after it premiered. The comic book series is definitely darker and more polished than The CW's other DC-related properties in the Arrowverse, so it will be interesting to see if and how the content gets edited for linear TV airings.
The CW also secured the rights to the Canadian detective drama Coroner, starring Chicago Fire and Inhumans vet Serinda Swan as a recently widowed coroner who uses her wits and uncanny intuition to investigate a plethora of mysterious deaths around the city of Toronto. Finally, The CW also scooped up the UK comedy Dead Pixels, which stars Alexa Davies (Detectorists), Will Merrick (Skins) and Sargon Yelda (Close) as three friends whose lives are upended by their collective obsession with the MMORPG video game Kingdom Scrolls. It will be the first time either Coroner or Dead Pixels will air in the U.S.
While TV series jumping from streaming services to TV networks is not the most traditional approach, there has definitely been precedents set in the past, such as Netflix's BoJack Horseman making its linear TV debut a few years ago. CBS All Access actually tested that kind of model in 2019 by allowing the first season of its spinoff drama The Good Fight to air weekly on CBS.
It's currently unclear when Tell Me a Story will bring Paul Wesley back to his former home on The CW, as well as what its future may be. But stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates as they become available. For those wondering what else is hitting the small screen soon, be sure and bookmark our Summer 2020 TV premiere schedule.