Looking back at The WB
Check out our favorite moments from the network that brought us ''Buffy,'' ''Everwood,'' ''Felicity,'' and more
Buffy Kills Angel
Buffy was The WB’s first double hitter — a breakout and a cult hit, teen-centric and adult-oriented. Crucial Buffy-mythos events occurred in this 1998 episode, ”Becoming, Part 2,” as Sarah Michelle Gellar’s vamp killer was compelled to slay her great love, Angel, to save the world. At that point, Angel (David Boreanaz) was switching in and out of his evil alter ego, Angelus, representing death and destruction as much as he did allure and romance. At the operatic climax, Buffy and Angel kissed, and then she stabbed him in the chest. Also in this Joss Whedon-written masterwork: Buffy’s mother first discovered her daughter is a slayer, and Xander told a pre-gay Willow that he loves her. This season ender concluded with Buffy leaving Sunnydale on a bus. You know you’re in bad shape when you’re a supernatural hero using the most depressing form of cross-continental transportation.
Felicity Gets a Haircut
Nothing could prepare fans of the collegiate drama for its season 2 shocker: Felicity (Keri Russell) — the coed with the luxuriant, curly tresses — was shorn within mere inches of a cue ball. Suddenly, the question that had seemed so important — Ben or Noel? — took a backseat to What on earth can we do to get her hair back? Ratings for the 1999-2000 season took a hit — though time-slot changes likely had more to do with them than Russell’s new ‘do. But the negative reaction was so strong, The WB’s then entertainment president Susanne Daniels (half) jokingly told reporters: ”Nobody is cutting their hair again on our network.”
Dawson Hearts Katie
On Jan. 20, 1998, Katie Couric became an unlikely object of desire when Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek) admitted his crush in the pilot episode of Dawson’s Creek. That declaration from his second-floor bedroom — prompted when his pal Joey (Katie Holmes) asked who starred in his onanistic daydreams — foreshadowed the blunt discussions about sex and pop culture that fueled Creek over its six-season run.
Shannen Doherty Quits Charmed
Doherty’s telekinetic Prue bit the dust in the 2001 season finale. But the better action was occurring off screen in The WB’s juiciest scandal to date. Rumors brewed that Doherty was booted because she and costar Alyssa Milano didn’t have a very sisterly bond. Just as he had with Charlie’s Angels 24 years earlier, producer Aaron Spelling quickly found another PYT for the show: Rose McGowan joined the following fall as long-lost sis Paige. The new troika cast a spell on viewers for five more seasons, and McGowan proved that Tiffani Thiessen isn’t the only actress who can fill Doherty’s shoes.
Chad Michael Murray Is a Star, Dammit!
Like the movie studios of the ’40s, The WB had its own celeb-making system: casting cute boys in project after project until one stuck. Murray is The WB’s most successful farm teamer — he harassed Rory on Gilmore Girls and toyed with Joey on Dawson’s Creek before landing at One Tree Hill. Other cute crops: Milo Ventimiglia (from Gilmore to a lead on The Bedford Diaries), and Supernatural‘s Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, who appeared on Smallville and Gilmore, respectively, before teaming up to fight ghosts.