The Real Cause Of The Writer's Strike: Refusal To Work On Crap Like Cavemen
With no end to the Writers Guild strike in sight, one has to wonder: what do the studios have up there sleeve? Production has already been shut down on many, if not all, of the shows slated for the 2008 season. This week, the studios fired the writers they had on hand, throwing even next year's television slate into jeporady. Thanks to the writers' strike, Lost, Season 4 will only be 8 episodes long, meaning that the answer to the four-toed statue mystery will not be coming anytime soon.
The writers, and just about everyone else, figured the studios would have blinked by now. But the fact that they haven't indicates--at least to me--that the studios have a plan to weather the storm.
This worries me, as a member of the tv-watching public, and it should worry you. Because if you watched that pathetic Golden Globes, it's obvious that without writers (and the actors that support them), all we're left with is Billy Bush and another season of "Battle of the Choirs."
While I back the writers in this fight, I have no desire for TV to become a wasteland of half-baked reality tv and crappy game shows. So I've compiled a list of five ways networks can continue to put out programming that the viewing public can enjoy:
1. Re-run Cancelled Classics. Sometimes, awesome shows met their ends wayyy too soon. CBS's Jericho, for example, about a small town that survives in a post-nuclear-attack America (which was brought back for a second season after pssionate fan demand). Or Fox's Firefly, about a ragtag bunch of space travelers in a wild-west galaxy. No one saw these shows because the networks were glutted with high quality fare like "Celebrity Boxing," "Who Wants To Marry a Millionaire," and "Baby Bob." Now is the time to bring them back for a second run. A dedicated cult following will watch the shows, and they'll appear brand new to those who haven't seen them before (and that's most people). Better yet, the shows may undergo a "Family Guy"-style rebirth, with renewed interest sparking DVD sales and increasing demand for new episodes.
I'm not the only one with this idea. Alan Sepinwall, tv critic, is featuring the cancelled tv show "Cupid" on his blog, as part of his "Strike Survival Club." How long until the networks follow suit?
(also, what about a show featuring failed pilots (like "Heat Vision and Jack"?? Wouldn't it be interesting to see what the network execs passed on?? They're already in the can, and could be either great or unintentionally humorous.)
2. Feature High-Quality Online Hits. Notice the words "High Quality." I'm not talking YouTube sensations like that crying "Leave Britney alone" guy/girl and the infamous dancing baby. I'm talking about drawing from a pool of millions of shows that are only currenly available online. These include animated cartoons, comedy sketches, and fully-produced live action sitcoms. Check out programs like Jonah Ray's Freeloader's Guide To Easy Living. You're telling me a show like this couldn't fly on Fox? While many online shows have their dedicated followings, none enjoy the type of viewership that comes with having a program on network television. Nearly all would jump at the chance to take their show, and their production values, to the next level.
3. Go back to season one. Lost is a brilliant show, but if you haven't seen the first season, you probably don't know what the hell is going on. Same thing with Prison Break. And 24. While the first seasons of these shows were all huge hits, it's likely that millions missed them. Now's the chance to get those viewers caught up.
The first season of a series is usually the best, because everything has been planned out and fully conceived by the time the season starts. The writers and producers had a long time to imagine and construct a great plot, and most likely, had a signifigantly higher budget than they would have in the following years. By re-running these first seasons, networks can attract new viewers who will watch the shows when they come back on, and remind current followers of the show just what greatness these shows are capable of.
4. Go British!! Ok, so no one cares about the Golden Globes. That's pretty apparent from the bulk of the comments people made after this week's "ceremony." "Best Golden Globes ever!" some people shouted. But what happens when the Grammys get cancelled? And the Emmys? And (gasp) the Oscars??
Enter the BAFTAS.
That's right. The British Academy of Film and Television Awards. All the fun of the Oscars... plus british accents! Half the celebrities on tv and in movies now are British anyway. And Americans have been copying British sitcoms (like The Office) for a while now. So lets go back to the motherland and mine their shores for entertainment.
5. Hire me. I am not a member of the WGA. I will work for peanuts. And I am very talented. Hire me and a couple of non-union actors and actresses, and we'll put together a show that will be at least as funny as ABC's Cavemen.
With all these options available, the writer's strike doesn't need to be the end of television. But let's hope this thing gets settled soon, because there's only so much the American public can take of reruns.
And I need to know the story behind that damn four-toed statue.