In the WB show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the title character died and came back to life — twice — during the series.
It seems the network is following in Buffy’s footsteps, resurrecting itself not on the television screen but on the Web site thewb.com.
In 2006 the WB and UPN merged to form the CW. The partnership brought together shows from both networks, essentially killing the WB in favor of the new hybrid.The seemingly final nail in the WB’s coffin was when a local station, My TV Tampa Bay, replaced the WB’s channel.
Two years later, the WB is back, living exclusively online. The site features old shows from the WB such as Buffy, Angel, Gilmore Girls, Smallville and Roswell along with shows from other networks that were produced by Warner Brothers, such as NBC’s Friends, UPN/CW’s Veronica Mars and FOX’s The O.C.
“These hit shows still have an incredible amount of equity with their audiences, who grew up with these characters and went through significant events in their lives just as some of the characters did on the programs,” said Brent Poer, general manager of thewb.com, in a press release.
The site also includes new shows like Sorority Forever, which consists of two-minute-long episodes about the behind-the-scenes drama of a sorority. It’s produced by McG (director of the Charlie’s Angels movies and executive producer of The O.C.).
Mikaela Hoover, who plays Madison, the mean girl, said it is about the darker side of Greek life.
“It is willing to go places where no other show would go,” she said. “I think a lot of shows are afraid to do that, maybe, because they are on television, but we weren’t afraid to touch on the nitty-gritty side of sorority life.”
Though Sorority Forever will only air on the Web, that doesn’t mean the show cuts corners on quality, said Annemarie Pazmino, who stars as Rachel, the vice president who is torn between her morals and succeeding in the sorority.
“It’s not (that) just because it is on the Internet it’s not going to look as good, or the writing is not going to be as good,” she said. “It’s just as good, if not better, then what is on TV right now.”
Other shows include Blue Water High, a drama that takes place in a surf academy, and A Boy Wearing Makeup, a video diary of a boy who gives makeup and fashion advice.
The site also features an online community where users can play games, blog and blend shows to make videos.
“It’s not just about watching an episode on your computer,” Pazmino said. “They are going to develop a lot additional things that parallel the show that the fans will be able to get involved in. It’s the full experience.”
Most of the major networks are posting their shows online as well. Kenneth C. Killebrew, a mass communications professor, said that this is more than a trend — it’s part of the medium’s future. As the Internet continues to grow, viewers will be able to watch all their shows in real time, he said.
FOX is piloting a new project to do just that. Specifically targeted at college students, the project will stream shows at the same time they air on TV. The shows are Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles (starting Monday at fox.com/terminator/college) and Fringe (starting Tuesday at fox.com/fringe/college). The airings will include pre- and post-show extras, like behind-the-scenes features and interviews.
“It’s the new wave,” Killebrew said. “In 10 to 15 years we will be watching most of television on the computer.