Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Watching MORE TV?

Out of habit, while I flip through my daily newspaper (who still reads newspapers? like on paper? apparently I still enjoy scrubbing the newsprint off my fingers everyday), I scan the back page of the entertainment section where the tv listings are to see if anything of interest is on. Lately, of course, I always end up with the conclusion that, well, nothing is on! I have as fond of memories of American Gladiators as the next guy (Larry Csonka! Nitro!), but on one of the networks? in primetime? what's next? update of Knight Rider? (oh wait) Reinvent Bionic Woman? (what? damn it!) Cast Dakota Fanning in the new Small Wonders? (Yes!)

The way I see it, there are two things preventing a resolution to this writer's strike business. First, the writers have not done a very good job of getting the average American to give a crap. Ask any Joe Schmoes in Middle America if they know that the writer's strike was still going on and at best, you'll get an answer to the effect of, "The writer strike? Is that still going on?" How would picketing a Hollywood studio lot bring your cause to the public? Last time I checked, I don't happen by the set of CSI:Walnut Creek on my way to work, and I certainly don't see anyone telling me that they are getting robbed of their online content royalty on my way to Safeway. Worse, while the writers are whining in their little corner of the world, the networks are getting away with sprinkling just enough new programming into the schedule that people don't even notice something it changed. There has been a steady increase in the hour of reality programming anyway, so what's 3 or 4 more opportunities to see what people would do if they were tied up to an alligator while trying to travel across the country trying to hook up with their high school prom date for a chance to win a hundred bucks and a bottle of ketchup? and I suffered through all sorts of interruptions during Heroes last season, isn't it coming back on in a few weeks just like last time? Television executives have effectively trained your average viewer to have basically no expectations when it comes to their programming, so really, no one gives a crap. How are the writers going to drum up any kind of support? (I know movies are technically affected too, but we are still a couple of months away from the well running dry on those...wait, Rambo opens this week? ah geez....)

I know one way that the writers can rally the public and put more pressure on the movie execs (which, incidentally, was my second point from earlier, but I am way past an organized rant by now), keep count of the length of the strike! Nothing revs up the urgency in a situation (and that is exactly what the writers need at this point) like some big number highlighting how long it has been going on? Does anyone know how long the strike have been going on? No! If you got into writing because numbers aren't your strong point, count weeks or something! Wouldn't you be more concerned if you turned on the TV and were told that we are entering week 13 of the strike, with no end in sight!?!? Come on! You guys create drama for a living! This has not occurred to any of you? Did all of you at one time wrote for the WB??

(Stepping off the frothy soap box)

For me, I think the strike has done me a lot of good. Mostly a financial decision, but made simpler because of the current situation, I have canceled my satellite TV subscription. For getting 200 channels there wasn't really ever anything on anyway. I will probably breakdown and resubscribe sometime after baseball season start (hear that, Comcast? DirectTV? I am declaring my free agency), but for now, I don't feel like I am missing anything at all.

And thanks to the magic of technology, there is more content online than ever. Through the magic of services of Joost, Hulu, Fancast, and even Netflix, I can actually watch more TV than ever, in bed on my laptop. So really, thanks you writers for taking a break so that I can catch up. I am trying to watch some recent shows that I never got around to the first time. I started watching, from the beginning, Arrested Development, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and that 800lbs gorilla known as Lost. So I'm going to stop looking at that depressing TV grid everyday (I switched to a weekend only newspaper subscription) and start figuring out how to best watch my TVs on my iPhone....

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