CW fills its week with super women

Oveshadowed by bigger (much bigger) networks, it's hard for CW to get noticed. It tries hard, with superheroes and, at times, super women. Now its season starts Monday (Oct. 9); here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

After giving the big
networks a two-week head start, little CW is ready for its season.

In one busy week, it
launches all 10 of is shows. Mostly, it gives us lots of women; many
are strong and smart, some are scheming, one is super.

After viewers see
Supergirl hoist a submarine over her head in the opener, the rest
might seem minor. But there are two clever, female-centered shows on
Fridays -- “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Jane the Virgin,” both
Golden Globe winners – and two new shows:

-- “Valor,” at 9
p.m. Mondays, with Christina Ochoa as Nora, a helicopter pilot for a
special-ops unit. “This is a female-driven military drama, which I
think does set it apart,” said producer Anna Fricke.

-- “Dynasty,” at
9 p.m. Wednesdays. This remake puts much of the focus on Fallon
Carrington, Blake's ambitious daughter. “She has a biting wit ... I
lover her strength and I think that's what really drew me to the
role,” said Elizabeth Gillies, who plays her. “I'm having to kick
it up a notch.”

Yes, “Dynasty”
is clearly a soap-opera ... and an over-the-top one at that. “Valor”
also slips in some hyper moments. “It's going to be a great soap,
on top of having a military background,” said Mark Pedowitz, the CW
programming chief.

Still, they're
sharply different worlds. In “Valor,” life is conducted amid
discipline. “Nora and her boyfriend can't touch each other when
they're in uniform and when they're on base,” Fricke said.

By comparison,
Fallon and her rival Cristal have fancy hair and gowns ... which
doesn't stop them from having a fierce fight, seeming like a
throwback to the old “Dynasty” days.

“If modern women
today (fight) for equal pay and to be treated equally and seen
equally as men,” said Nathalie Kelley, who plays Cristal, “why
can't we also have the right to fight like men? .... That's my
feminist take on why we pull each other's hair out (in) Episode 1.”

The key women offer
international roots:

-- Kelley is a
Peruvian native who grew up in Australia. She had supporting roles on
“Body of Proof,” “Unreal” and CW's “Vampire Diaries.”

-- Gillies grew up
in New Jersey and was on Broadway at 15. Then came Nickelodeon's
“Victorious” and FX's “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,”
vigorously tackling all of the elements in the title.

-- Ochoa is from
Spain and fits that new ideal of a modern woman – tall (5-foot-10)
and confident, conquering multiple fields. Her grand-uncle (Severo
Ochoa) was a Nobel prizewinning biochemist ... her father (Victor
Ochoa) is a noted sculptor. She's a member of Mensa, studied marine
biology and physics, speaks at scientific conferences, writes
articles ... and then does make-believe, jumping straight from
“Animal Kingdom” to this summer's “Blood Drive” and beyond.

“The intellectual
and the mental side are satisfied by my philanthropic endeavors and
science,” Ochoa said. But then there's “the creative side of my
life, where I smile the most. I get to play.”

Especially in
“Valor,” where Nora unleashes fierce emotions. For one scene,
Ochoa had to learn to bang a drum fiercely. “That was a skill that
I was not familiar with.”

For another, she
pounded walls of an abandoned house with a hammer. “They kind of
let me run wild with it .... They actually had to rebuild the wall
several times, because we got so carried away,”

That's modern life,
perhaps. Some people pull hair and rip gowns ... some batter walls
and fly helicopters ... one lifts a submarine. They're CW's

-- CW season starts
Oct. 9-13; “Valor” (9 p.m. Mondays) and “Dynasty” (9 p.m.
Wednesdays) are new.

-- Mondays:
“Supergirl,” 8 p.m., “Valor,” 9; Tuesdays: “The Flash,”
8, “Legends of Tomorrow,” 9; Wednesdays: “Riverdale,” 8,
“Dynasty,” 9; Thursdays: “Supernatural,” 8, “Arrow,” 9;
Fridays: “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, 8, “Jane the Virgin,” 9.