Monday, November 05, 2007

Writers’ Strike Hits Daily Show & Colbert Hard

Comedy Channel’s “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” both rely on topical, up-to-the-minute writing. The strike by the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture &Television Producers, which placed their members on picket lines this morning, puts TDS and Colbert into rerun. That’s okay for a week, but after that, those shows are stale and unwatchable. Viacom, the daddy of MTV Networks cable channels and the Paramount movie studios, says it's not worried. It’s got tons of movies to play in all their timeslots and they are geared up to replace their shows with movies FOREVER. Which effectively says: “We’re okay. But screw you and your writers, TDS and Colbert.” Sitcom writers for scheduled TV shows will actually be ahead of the game in a strike. One of the big issues is residual payments. And the writers will be getting residuals for reruns during a strike. Reality shows are not affected by the strike and will no doubt clog all channels even more than they do now. Will the outcome of this strike give viewers better television? No. It will give writers more money. And the writers hope it will even-out the amounts paid to big-time writers and less-successful writers who get paid for writing a show here and there. But the myth that the owners of channels and their producers give viewers what they want will continue. Television viewers do not get what we want. We get what companies like Viacom want to give us. That is to say, we get hundreds and hundreds of channels from which to choose hundreds and hundreds of bad television shows. And in order to watch one hour of these badly written, badly conceived, boring and gratuitously violent shows, we have to sit through, or fast-forward through, eighteen minutes of commercials. Not to mention, we are shown, willy-nilly, the cleavage of all women on all shows, no matter whether it’s appropriate and no matter if that cleavage would never be tolerated in actual business situations. Yes, I will miss The Daily Show. (Nevermind Colbert...he wore thin after one week.) But since I am offered increasingly crappy dramas on TV, I won’t watch reruns of first-runs because I never watched most of the hideously awful first-runs. I’ll watch more Spanish Telenovelas to work on my Spanish, and I’ll watch the reality shows I can tolerate. I’ll watch movies, reruns of old Law & Order and Monk shows. I’ll download whatever podcasts are available and listen to more music. And maybe I’ll knit more. But will I sorely miss anything on the Fall TV schedule? Only TDS. I wish this strike would improve the quality of the shows on TV. I wish this strike would lessen the number of commercials we have to suffer though. But it won’t do either.


Richard said...

Some decades ago it occured to me that certain trappings, were unnecessary. In the case of wrist watches for example, so much like cigarettes, in the manner the addict fumbles for the fix..multiplied over time..such a waste. Short story, haven't worn a watch in 30 years. After all most walls have 'em, right?
TV is also absolutely unnecessary.
I post this Joy, 'cause Nothing you receive from TV enhances knowledge.
Test it. Engage in the usual banter & blather at the water cooler or where ever, after pledging No TV or Radio for ten days. Result: You miss nothing.
This rant grew out of counting the references in today's screed.
Keep up the good work.

Barry Schwartz said...

Good: get rid of your television.

Television is doing you harm that you do not realize. After a middle-aged lifetime of TV watching well above average, I recently came to observe this fact. Do a hobby instead. Listen to a radio or audio stream--at least then your eyes will be free and therefore also your hands.

Imagine all the productive hobby work that would get done if we had no television sets. I am currently designing a digital font based loosely on the famous edition of Hypnerotomachia Poliphili printed by the Aldine Press in 1499. If I don't keep at it I will be too bored, so I keep at it--unless I watch television.