Watch previews of The CW’s new 2009-2010 series

The CW has three new series planned for this fall, in addition to bringing back shows like Gossip Girl, 90210 and Supernatural. Here’s a rundown on them, with official CW summaries, some preview scenes, and my first impressions.

The Beautiful Life

The life of a high-fashion model appears glamorous and sexy, but as every new model quickly learns, behind the beautiful facade is a world of insecurity and cutthroat competition. Two teenage models who are about to discover this world for themselves are Raina Collins (Sara Paxton, Last House on the Left), a stunning beauty with a secret past, and Chris Andrews (Benjamin Hollingsworth, The Line), a strikingly handsome Iowa farm boy. When Raina makes an unforgettable impression at a show introducing the new line from designer Zac Posen (appearing in a cameo role), she steals the spotlight from her friend Sonja (Mischa Barton, The O.C.). Sonja has been out of the country for mysterious reasons and is now desperate to reclaim her standing as the reigning supermodel.

While Raina and Sonja live at the top of the fashion food chain, Chris is starting at the bottom, having just been discovered by agent Simon Lockridge (newcomer Dusan Dukic) of the Covet Modeling Agency, which is owned by former supermodel Claudia Foster (Elle Macpherson, Friends). At his first photo shoot, Chris’ inexperience almost derails his career until Raina comes to his rescue, showing him how to relax and work the camera.

That afternoon, Raina brings Chris to the models’ residence where she lives along with other young hopefuls, including Marissa Delfina (Ashley Madekwe, Secret Diary of a Call Girl), Egan (Jordan Woolley, As The World Turns), Issac (Corbin Bleu, High School Musical 2) and the current alpha-male-model known as Kai (Nico Tortorella, Twelve).

At an exclusive industry party that night, Chris is again impressed by Raina’s generosity when she steps aside to make sure Sonja lands a job that will resurrect her career. However, after an ugly scene with Simon, Chris is left to question whether he can survive in this world of dangerous excess and fleeting fame.

Scenes from the The Beautiful Life


First impression: Glad to see Mischa Barton on TV again (I still have a soft spot for her from Once and Again), but I’m not convinced a show about the darker side of modeling is what America is looking for right now — stories about desperate, often-wasted beautiful people worried about being washed up at 24 is going to get boring and depressing pretty quickly. Also boring and depressing? That The CW made a show about models and none of them are gay or bisexual (at least not from the casting sides I’ve read). Although given the seedy life this show depicts, maybe that’s a good thing.

Vampire Diaries

Four months after the tragic car accident that killed their parents, 17-year-old Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev, DeGrassi: The Next Generation) and her 15-year-old brother, Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen, Everwood) are still trying to cope with their grief and move on with their lives. Elena has always been the star student; beautiful, popular and involved with school and friends, but now she finds herself struggling to hide her sadness from the world. As the school year begins, Elena and her friends are fascinated by a handsome and mysterious new student, Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley, Army Wives).

Stefan and Elena are immediately drawn to one another, and Elena has no way of knowing that Stefan is a centuries-old vampire, struggling to live peacefully among humans, while his brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder, Lost) is the embodiment of vampire violence and brutality. Now these two vampire brothers — one good, one evil — are at war for Elena’s soul and for the souls of her friends, family and all the residents of the small town of Mystic Falls, Virginia.

Scenes from Vampire Diaries


First impression: The premise isn’t totally original, but the cast is appealing and the timing is perfect to tap into the Twilight movie craze (as well as all the fans of the Vampire Diaries books this series is based on). I’ll probably give it a try myself, since I like moody, outsider-y shows. And Ian Somerhalder (I still remember him from Young Americans with Kate Moennig).

Melrose Place

In an elegant Spanish-style apartment building in the trendy Melrose neighborhood of Los Angeles, a diverse group of 20-somethings have formed a close-knit surrogate family. Sydney Andrews (Laura Leighton, the original Melrose Place) is the landlady, still beautiful at 40, and a central figure in the lives of all her tenants, especially handsome and rebellious David Breck (Shaun Sipos, Shark).

Both father and son learned through experience that Sydney was not above using blackmail to control people. Another tenant, high-powered publicist Ella Simms (Katie Cassidy, Supernatural), once considered Sydney her mentor, but their friendship was destroyed by betrayal, and Sydney threatened to evict Ella and ruin her career.

The other tenants include Lauren Yung (Stephanie Jacobsen, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), a medical student in desperate need of money to pay her student loans, and Jonah Miller (Michael Rady, Swingtown), an aspiring filmmaker who has just proposed to his live-in girlfriend Riley Richmond (Jessica Lucas, Cloverfield), a first-grade teacher. The newest tenant, 18-year-old Violet Foster (Ashlee Simpson-Wentz, 7th Heaven), has just arrived in LA with her own secret connection to Sydney. When a bloody body is found floating in the courtyard pool, David is the leading suspect. However, as the police are soon to discover, almost everyone living at Melrose Place had a reason to want the deceased out of the way.

Scenes from the new Melrose Place


First impression: Eh. The first Melrose Place was fairly original in its over-the-top campiness, but now that over-the-top is so commonplace on TV, I’m not sure this is going to stand out much. But since Ella is supposedly bisexual, I guess I’ll find out. I can’t say I’m upset at having to see more of Terminator‘s Stephanie Jacobson, though, even if she is playing a med student/call girl here, instead of a kick-ass resistance fighter. Does she get to keep the accent, at least?

Tell me your take on the CW’s new series in the comments!