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If the WGA Strike is over, but there’s nothing to watch, would you notice…

The writers are back at work, but the season is almost over. Do they all just work extra long on next season, or do they coast until the potential SAG strike is over?

The only place anyone is really likely to notice is late night talk TV. Other than that, most of the shows I have found interesting or worth watching are screwed. (And before we go down this road; I don’t blame the writers for this. I blame the greedy producers and entertainment conglomerates. I hope you’re happy that everyone will have found alternative forms of entertainment as you wail about diminished ratings/profits next year.)

The first problem is the big networks’ idea of a season. Cable stations have been steadily chipping away at the networks for a few years now by starting series in the summer (Burn Notice being the latest example of a success.) or January. Fox seems to be the only network to somewhat embrace this practice. (24 viewers got tired of waiting for baseball coverage to finish up to find out how Jack Bauer was going to save the US.)

The second problem is the scattershot method the networks take in releasing a bunch of series simultaneous to one another and offering little support, hoping that they will attract an audience. This commitment-phobic attitude is what stops people from watching in the first place. Nobody wants to start watching an intricately plotted drama or actioner only to have it yanked leaving you hanging. Cable commits to however many episodes constitute a ‘season’ and they produce them. Things are wrapped up enough that you can live with it, but are still open to continue. They also only green light a few (hopefully quality) series, thereby limiting their exposure which allows them to make the seasonal commitment. (During the strike NBC announced it would begin following something more along these lines.)

So here’s where we (the audience and the networks) are at a tipping point; The networks are banking on the general viewing audience to continue to lower their expectations/IQs and embrace programming that continues to plume the depths of lowest common denominator. (cough-reality programs-cough) The audience, in turn, has shown the ability to embrace edgier, more thought-provoking fare. (Orginally started on HBO, then other pay-channels, and now on to standard channels like FX and AMC)

It’s up to you to make the differnce take hold and force the change. (Hell, you may decide you like nothing being offered and take to the Internet, or actually read a book.) You have to be the one to decide not to be led around by the nose. Dopey extreme religous organizations have been trying to blackmail networks into showing what they perceive as ‘correct’ for years. (And getting away with it much of the time.) Now is the time to vote with your television remotes and turn the tide on network programmers. If a letter from one moron who proports to representing a (inflated) block of viewers will get a response, then think what will happen when real numbers turn away from pablum and on to (or off completely) something else.

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