Wednesday, November 7, 2007

the Writers' Strike

The Writers' Guild, whose members provide the scripts for television shows and movies, went on strike this week. As with all kinds of work walkouts such as this, they are looking for better financial compensation - in particular in the areas where new revenue streams have come in for the studios thanks to advancing technologies (DVD releases, internet feeds, podcasts to phones, etc.).

The last time that the Guild went on strike was back in 1988, and that strike lasted 22 weeks. However, the impact was not as severe since the strike was between the end of one television season and the beginning of the next; the impact to viewers was that it pushed back the Fall Season debuts a bit. Clearly, this time things were a bit more calculated - with the shoe dropping just in time for November sweeps. While most shows have a few scripts in the can in advance for shooting, talk shows and nightly shows are hit first as they tend to be rather topical and written much closer to air time. The movie studios have a less of an impact as they tend to have their 2008 shooting scripts already in hand.

This really kind of bums me out a bit because a lot of the shows I've been enjoying are really starting to click nicely. After about three or so slow weeks, Heroes has been coming back hard in the past two weeks with that "wow factor" that it had from season 1. Still, the planned spin-off/hiatus-filler show Heroes: Origins appears to have been put on hold. The writers' strike might have been a factor in that. Similarly, How I Met Your Mother has been picking up again after a slow transition out of last season's storylines. These past three weeks or so they've been back in the comedy style that made the show a hit in recent years.

Other shows have been solid all along, and the strike putting them on hold will be felt in our household. Bones and Two & A Half Men have been pretty solid all season. And freshman comedy the Big Bang Theory has been knocking it out of the park weekly, in our household, since its debut. I will be very disappointed if the season-interuptus is long on these shows.

The networks figure they'll be able to counter with reruns or by pumping up the schedules further with non-scripted shows (reality shows and game shows). I'm not a mega fan of reruns but I will support my favorites by catching them as they show (my DVR is only set for recording first-run episodes though). I guess, too, if the writers' strike lasts a long time that the daily soap operas will get quickly derailed (they too only shoot about four or so weeks in advance). I guess if that happens I'll have more free time on my weekend nights - less programming to catch up on if I can skip the weekly five-block of Guiding Light.

The silver lining, I guess, is I can do over the winter what I do over the summer - catch up on other things and hobbies. I have a couple things that I've been neglecting of late - books to read, films to catch up on, etc. So maybe this won't be such a bad thing. I'll let you know.

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