November 8, 2007


I’ve seen discussions online about what reruns people would like to see during the writer’s strike. I think that’s fine, but I was wondering whether it properly reflected support for those writers who are trying to get a better deal.

I guess there are three camps you can fall into with this writer’s strike thing.

  1. You support the writers and want them to get a better deal.
  2. You don’t support the strike and think the writers ought to get back to work without a better contract.
  3. You just don’t care what happens or you just want your TV shows back.

#3 effectively lumps you in with #2, because not caring is not supporting.

I’m not going to tell you what you ought to want, but I will say something you should know. A lot of what I like about good shows is attributable to the writing. When you go into work the next day excited to talk to other fans because of something really cool you saw on that show you like, it’s an idea that a writer thought up. I’m not trying to downplay the other stuff that makes TV and film good, I just want to point out that writing often stays with you.

You want good writing.

The studios are not showing signs of backing down, and have started sending out suspension notices. Feels like we have a long haul coming.

So, what should you do when your new TV shows run out. Watch cool reruns?

I suggest you turn off the TV entirely. If you do want to support the strike, then don’t keep watching TV. Read a book instead. There are lots of good books.

For my part, when my shows run out I’ll stick with books and watch DVDs while I’m running. Will it make a huge difference to the strike? Probably not. But I want the studios to pay writers for new, fun, exciting writing. When the networks can offer me that, I’ll watch. When they can’t I won’t.

And if we feel that way, we should also act that way AND let people know. Shouldn’t we?

Posted by James at November 8, 2007 11:47 AM
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Books are pretty much what we already do. The only shows we regularly watch are House, CSI and Craig Ferguson. Ferguson is already in reruns.
I'll occasionally tape NBC's Thursday comedies but not with any regularity. I'll add Lost when (if?) it comes back in january.

Lately he haven't been watching many movies or series on dvd either although i tend to watch something in the hour between when Patti leaves for work and I do. That's when I've caught up on Battlestar Galcatica and working through my Buffy and MASH dvds.

As far as the strike goes i support the writers.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at November 8, 2007 12:28 PM

I just read the. It seems to me that it might be in these people's best interests to join the writers NOW by leaving while there are still scripts instead of waiting to be let go in a few weeks. This might move up show suspensions to the near future instead of weeks or months from now.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at November 8, 2007 12:32 PM

It wasn't in their best immediate personal interests, but it does lend more weight to the strike.

Posted by: James at November 8, 2007 12:38 PM

I like the idea of turning off the TVs entirely. If the studios see a "viewers strike" then they may have to pony up for new content.

Posted by: briwei at November 8, 2007 12:53 PM

If they could actually tell whether I'm watching or not, I'd turn the TV off, but I'm not going to stop watching just as a symbolic gesture. I don't have Tivo or anything like it, so I can't really send a message that way.

The reruns I plan to watch are reruns of current shows that I had hoped to see later anyway. That half-season of reruns isn't going to last very long.

Realistically, the networks are limited in what they can run (and rerun) anyway, since they don't necessarily have access to their old shows (licensed to other networks, etc.). I don't expect a lot of "cool" stuff to be aired. And whatever reruns they do show, no matter how spectacular, are not going to pull in the kind of advertising revenue they get for new shows. So they're still going to suffer. A lot.

Come to think of it, the things they are most likely to rerun are the "reality" shows, which don't have a writing staff to begin with, which means they won't be paying out much in the way of royalties (or residuals to actors) either. Those will be very easy to skip.

Watching DVDs that you already have is a good way to get through the dry spell... but doesn't buying/renting DVDs fail to show support too? I would think it would be even more important to avoid putting money into the DVD business, since royalties on DVD sales are a big part of the strike.

Posted by: Julie at November 8, 2007 12:57 PM

I don't know what BOB meant by "I just read the.", but if it's a reference to actors who are refusing to work, it IS in their best interest, because their contracts (with all the DVD and new media stuff) are going to be up soon too. The better deal the writers end up with, the more leverage the actors will have when it's their turn.

Posted by: Julie at November 8, 2007 1:13 PM

It's not symbolic if you tell them you're not watching.

Renting DVDs is a much longer revenue chain than ad dollars from running reruns. I doubt "America won't rent any DVDs" has even close to the resonance of "America is going to turn their TVs off." Ad revenues is the first line.

But, I guess if you want to be absolutist, you ought to not watch the remaining new shows, cancel Netflix and cable and stop reading books, too, as books are a source of many of the stories that turn into screenplays. But I think you have to find a line that makes sense.

Turning the TV off is my idea of a sensible place to draw the line. Being a TV junkie myself, I think it is significant.

Hmmm. Although, if everyone who supports the strike canceled their cable...

Posted by: James at November 8, 2007 1:19 PM

Sorry I should have been clearer. I was thinking along the lines of the poorly paid production assistant types. They all know they will be fired and can see it coming. My thought was if they all waled out together in the long run it might be better for them and shorten the strike. then again, I suppose that those people are also very replaceable.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at November 8, 2007 1:49 PM

I support the writers. Couple that with my dislike of the majority of TV and I have no problem shutting it off.

Even when the writing is good, like "30 Rock," I have a very hard time devoting more of my meagre free time to yet more TV.

The only shows I watch with any regularity are "CSI" (the good one in Vegas, not the glom-ons), "House," and, if we remember to tape it, "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson."

All I want to do is read whatever book I'm currently reading, and if I watch more TV, that's less time I have for reading.

Posted by: Patti M. at November 8, 2007 2:22 PM

Just found this handy site that lists television series and the status of episodes for this strike-shortened season:

Watchers Watch

Posted by: Mike at November 12, 2007 9:51 PM

Thanks for that link. It looks like most of the things I watch have a lot more episodes left than I expected. I was hoping they'd dry up sooner. I guess the studios learned their lesson after the last strike. (The lesson to shoot way ahead, that is...)

Posted by: Julie at November 13, 2007 9:37 AM

The studios were gearing up for the strike, which is why the writers moved up the strike schedule.

Posted by: James at November 13, 2007 10:00 AM

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