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StrikeWatch: Another 48 Hours

In about 48 hours time, the strike could be a thing of the past.

By Tuesday night, we'll know about the outcome of the WGA's vote about whether or not to lift the strike proviso and if they will in fact return to work while the 10-day ratification process of the tentative agreement takes place.

In the meantime, showrunners (those lucky writer-producer types) returned to the job today and it's expected that the WGA's member body will vote to lift the strike. For the first time in months, things seem hopeful here in Los Angeles.

Since the strike began over three months ago, there has been a pall cast over this city, a hush that infected every restaurant, every bar, every coffee shop. All anyone could talk about was this strike, when it would end, what it would mean for an industry already under seige, a business which many viewers seem to have deserted for parts unknown. Expense accounts were slashed, pickets raised, overall deals were canceled, crews given pink slips, writers force majeured off the lots.

And yet maybe that's just what this city of dreams needed: a wake-up call. When this strike first started, I don't think anyone anticipated quite how far the writers were willing to take this battle nor that David would be able to slay Goliath in the end. After all, they were warring against multi-national corporations with vast resources. They were fighting against corporate greed. They were crusading for change, for fair pay for themselves and the generations to come.

Did they make sacrifices? Yes. And for many, the ends did justify the means. The tentative deal, currently under review by the WGA's membership, did allow for significant gains to be made. Gains which will hopefully be taken on board by SAG once their contract comes up in June. (Members of that union have stood side-by-side with their writer brethren and my hope is that there won't be another strike this summer, especially because I don't think the unsung victims of the strike--those TV crews, many of whom supported the writers' cause--can weather another dry spell.)

As for what this means for you, the viewing public? Production on many series will ramp up again in the coming days and weeks as networks try to get as many original installments of scripted series on the air before May. Expected to show up this spring: 30 Rock, The Office, Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, CSI, Two and a Half Men, Cold Case, Bones, House, and a slew of others.

But don't expect many of your favorites to return this spring. Word on the streets (and in the creative bullpens) is that several freshman series--like Dirty Sexy Money, Chuck, Pushing Daisies, and Life, among them--may resume production but will not air any new episodes until this fall. (On the other hand, Gossip Girl is expected to air new episodes throughout the summer in order to entice the teen set to return to the series.) Big, heavily serialized series like 24 and Heroes won't turn up until next season either.

Some many not return at all. The prognosis isn't looking too good for Bionic Woman, Cane, Journeyman, Friday Night Lights, or Women's Murder Club.

Pilot season will be a much smaller, much more contained affair this year, with only a handful of pilots expected from each network. Many projects will be ordered directly to series, like Fringe, The Oaks, Kath & Kim, etc. while others will get presentation orders rather than pilot orders. Still others will fade away into the ether, an unavoidable side-effect of the strike-impacted pilot timeframe.

One thing is certain. This has been a television season unlike any other. Now that the strike is coming to an end, let's all agree to put the drama back where it belongs: on our televisions.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: How I Met Your Mother/Welcome to the Captain (CBS); American Gladiators (NBC; 8-9:30); Gossip Girl (CW); Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann (ABC; 8-9:30 pm); Prison Break (FOX)

9 pm: Two and a Half Men/New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC; 9:30-11 pm); Girlfriends/Girlfriends (CW); Notes from the Underbelly (ABC; 9:30-10 pm); Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (FOX)

10 pm: CSI Miami (CBS); October Road (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Gossip Girl.

It's another chance to catch up on the teen soap. On tonight's repeat episode ("Poison Ivy"), Dan and Nate find themselves competing for something other than the lovely Serena: namely, a covered usher gig when Ivy League reps come to their school; Blair uncovers one of Serena's secrets; Jenny and Eric get to know each other better; Rufus has a favor to ask of Lily.

8:30 pm: Welcome to the Captain.

It's not the best series out there, but there's something winsome about this low-key comedy. (And, hell, at least it's scripted.) On tonight's episode ("Weekend at Saul's"), Josh invites Hope to stay at the apartment for the weekend, but Uncle Saul thinks it's a bad idea and tries to persuade him to stay at his weekend retreat... to make Hope jealous.

9 pm: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

On tonight's installment ("Queen's Gambit"), Sarah meets a stranger (guest star Brian Austin Green) at a chess competition whose past mirrors her own, while Cameron undergoes grief counseling and Ellison finds some spare terminator parts.

9:30 pm: Old Christine.

On tonight's episode ("Beauty is Only Spanx Deep"), Christine must face her fears that Mr. Harris will leave her for a younger woman after a pretty waitress flirts with him during their date. Oh and Sad Dad (Andy Richter) returns.

10 pm: No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain on Travel Channel.

It's a brand new season of No Reservations on the Travel Channel; follow enfant terrible chef Anthony Bourdain as he travels the world in search of good food. In tonight's installment, Tony skips across the pond to take in the cities of London and Edinburgh (which easily could have had their own unique episodes), where he observes the veddy British scenery and samples the local cuisine.


I truly hope that the writers are getting a fair deal and that everyone will be able to get back to work soon. It will be interesting to see what the long term impact of the strike is when we get into next season with fewer new shows. Maybe that will be a good thing and allow new programs more of a chance. I guess we'll have to wait and see!
Unknown said…
"[A] business which many viewers seem to have deserted for parts unknown." Unknown? Hardly (IMO). They've left for series presented over the Internet or for DVDs of old series or even for movies. That's why I think we'll see next season have one of the lowest viewerships yet.

On another note: No more Chuck until next season?! Say it ain't so! I can do without everything else--even 24--but this is too much.
Brad said…
so which side does Lost fit into? "Big and heavy" like 24 or "scripted favorite" like 30 Rock?
eAi said… is reporting that 24 may return sooner - with 12 episodes this season, 12 in September and presumably 24 next January...

Brad: I believe Lost is running short series for the next three series and has already filmed 8 episodes for the current series and should be able to film 4 to 6 more to finish the series. The final two series are intended to be 16 episodes long each, though I'm not sure if this will change due to the shortening of this series - probably not.
Anonymous said…
Sad news about Friday Night Lights, which, despite a couple of missteps this season, was still the best show on network television.

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