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Why is it that whenever I see a new CW series that piques my interest, I can't help thinking it looks like something from the classic WB playbook. Such is the power of even a defunct brand whose legacy carries on into the better parts of The CW, an amorphous youth-oriented mini-network that changes identity night by night, from tired soaps (90210, Gossip Girl in its last lap) to cutesy soaps (the saccharine Southern saccharine Hart of Dixie) to high-concept horror/superhero action series that pack a cult punch.

The good old much missed WB leapt immediately to mind as scenes from the new Arrow began to play at Thursday's CW upfront, a brief but noisy affair — Flo Rida was the opening act at New York's City Center — that revealed some programming spunk and nerve with a few bold moves that left only one returning show (The Vampire Diaries) in its regular time period. (See the full lineup here.)

Arrow is clearly The CW's top priority this fall, and considering for how long Smallville was a signature show for first The WB and then The CW, it's not hard to understand why. The clip "sizzle" reel actually did sizzle with cinematic boldness, setting up the origin story of its Bruce Wayne-like hero Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), a young billionaire thought dead for five years during which time something life-altering happened to him on a Pacific island. As he returns to the family manse — the great Susanna Thompson (Once and Again) is his regal mother — the moody, psychically and physically scarred Oliver takes on a vigilante superhero alter ego. There's violence, romance (with Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance), family intrigue, all in all a promising escapist package.

Adding to the WB vibe is The CW's smart decision to shoot Arrow right into the center of the prime-time lineup: on Wednesday at 8/7c, not consigned to the cult cellar of Fridays. The long-running Supernatural (the last remaining remnant of The WB) joins it at 9/8c, a sign of faith in a show whose end of days now appears to be nowhere in sight.

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