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Saunders : WB plans nostalgic sign-off (buffy & angel mention)

Monday 11 September 2006, by Webmaster

Felicity (Denver’s Keri Russell) will be there with her controversial hairstyle.

So will Buffy, the noted vampire slayer.

And fans will see Katie Holmes - without Tom Cruise.

Starting at 4 p.m. Sunday, the WB Network signs off forever by airing the initial episodes of four of its signature series during a five-hour block of programming.

The next day things change drastically. So please pay attention.

Many of the current series on the WB can be found on the new CW network, a combination of the WB and UPN network programming.

These series will be aired on KWGN-Channel 2, which will change its identify from WB2 to CW2.

Actually, Sunday’s five-hour event is unprecedented.

Back in TV’s Stone Age (1956), the DuMont Network signed off the air with a simple announcement.

But Garth Ancier, WB’s outgoing president, wanted viewers of the 11-year-old network to recall memories and record for posterity the first episodes of the WB’s key series.

In addition, the WB special will feature a tribute to all the series aired on the network along with classic promotional and image campaigns broadcast following the network’s formation on Jan. 11, 1995.

The Sunday schedule:

• 4 p.m. - Felicity (1998-2002). Created by J.J. Abrams (Lost), the drama centered on the romantic and angst-ridden life of a starry-eyed freshman college student (Russell) in New York.

Russell and her hair were the stars, but the supporting cast featured such now-familiar names as Janeane Garofalo, Teri Polo and Jane Kaczmarek.

• 5 p.m. - Angel (1999-2001). This spinoff of Joss Whedon’s Buffy, the Vampire Slayer starred David Boreanaz (Bones) as Buffy’s vampire lover who vowed to protect Los Angeles citizens from unsavory vampires and demons.

• 6 p.m. - Buffy (1997-2002). Numerous media experts feel this series, which spent its last two seasons on UPN, was the most important in the WB’s history. The campy horror drama starred Sarah Michelle Gellar as a lithe, courageous teen who battled a bevy of vampires in Sunnydale, Calif. Fans can see the two-hour premiere.

• 8 p.m. - Dawson’s Creek (1998-2003). A soap-opera-style teen drama, Dawson’s Creek attracted a wide audience and produced a host of imitators.

Set in coastal Massachusetts, episodes concentrated on frowning high school students and their always-overheated romantic adventures.

My memories include numerous scenes of teens sneaking in and out of bedroom windows.

Cast members included James Van Der Beek, Joshua Jackson, Michelle Williams and Holmes before she started cruising with the famed movie star.

The four series had a common denominator: Wide appeal to the teenage and young adult audiences the WB constantly sought.

Some popular, important WB series. including 7th Heaven and Smallville, aren’t included in the mini-marathon because they remain integral parts of the new CW Network, operated by CBS and Warner Bros. Television.

Ancier and his crew worked hard to get this package together since sticky rights fees were involved with studios and producers.

For the record, two of the WB’s first series were comedies - Sister, Sister, staring Tamera and Tia Mowry, and Kirk, featuring Kirk Cameron.

A bit of trivia about the old DuMont Network: When it folded in 1956, one of its most popular series was Life Begins at 80, featuring a weekly roundtable of oldsters expounding on their longevity.

Life Begins at 80 would never have been a candidate for the WB schedule.

The UPN network, which has ended most of its schedule on KTVD-Channel 20 (now operated by 9News) hasn’t planned a TV farewell.

What could UPN have aired?

Perhaps the best - or the worst - of its wrestling extravaganzas.

TODAY’S NOSTALGIA: On Sept. 11, 1982, NBC presented the Texaco Star Theater, which saluted Broadway musicals. The cast included Sammy Davis Jr., Ethel Merman, Donald O’Connor, Carol Burnett and Robert Guillaume.