Writers love using the cliché term “the long national nightmare is over” – whether they’re being serious or facetious. So in honor of the writers of the world, I’ll use the phrase myself, as I rejoice that our long national nightmare is, in fact, finally over. Members of the Writers Guild of America are back at work after over three months of striking. The WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers came to a tentative agreement on Feb. 8 – an appropriate birthday present to the Nexus’ entertainment columnist (me!) – and hammered out the final details last week. While the strike may be over, it’ll take years to figure out if the slight pay raises for the WGA will counteract the losses of income over the last few months. But that’s an issue for the writers themselves to worry about. I’m more worried about myself – and my DVR – and I’m sure most of you are likewise wondering how the strike’s resolution will affect your TV-deprived lives.
Let’s start with the people who still won’t be happy: Fans of “24.” With only eight episodes finished before the strike, FOX decided to bump the new season to January 2009 rather than rushing to finish before the summer. Networks don’t like to air marquee shows over the summer because most viewers are on vacation. Hopefully, the long break will give Jack Bauer and the rest of Counter Terrorist Unit a chance to improve on a lackluster season six.
A variety of other shows now face a cloudy future, including a collection of crap that includes “Cane,” “The Women’s Murder Club,” “Big Shots” and “Cavemen,” all of which are expected to be canceled. Because it had a stockpile of finished shows, NBC’s “Friday Night Lights” ran uninterrupted throughout most of the strike. But, because the morons at the peacock network refused to move it to a better night, ratings suffered. It’s likely we’re looking at the cancellation of the best drama to hit TV since Oceanic Flight 815 crashed on an island.
Speaking of the survivors, the strike likely assures ABC will keep churning out new episodes of “Lost” after the current stockpile of eight new episodes is exhausted. “Lost” got an unexpected boost from the strike, as it was able to debut the new season with virtually no competition. Although it’s still unlikely any show could have stood in its way, judging by how good the new season has been. ABC has four more episodes in the can, with tentative plans to shoot and air five additional episodes before the summer. That plan might change, however, as the producers vowed a year ago to air 16 episodes a year for the final three seasons of “Lost.”
While “Lost” will keep you glued to the couch for at least nine more Thursdays, a bunch of other shows have scheduled their returns in hopes of bringing back viewers. ABC hasn’t announced exact dates yet, but chick favorites like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Ugly Betty” and “Desperate Housewives” will return in April. NBC tried to bring “Must See TV” back to Thursday nights last fall, but after the damage done by the strike, “My Name Is Earl,” “Scrubs” and “30 Rock” won’t be seen again until early April. If you’ve read this far, I’m pretty sure you’re just waiting to find out when “The Office” returns, and sadly the wait continues a while longer. Michael Scott et al. won’t be back until April 10, for the first of six new episodes to finish the season. That might sound like good news, but it’s a serious letdown when you consider NBC had originally planned on airing 30 new episodes of “The Office” this season.
So there you have it. The strike’s over, but we’ve still got a while to wait for our DVR lists to be back at full strength. The resolution’s not perfect, but it sure beats the hell out of three more months of “Celebrity Apprentice” and “The Moment of Truth.”