Saturday, March 1, 2008

Post-Strike Agony: "I... need TV."

Today as I was trying to sort out all of the topics that I wished to blog about over the weekend, my darling friend Marie just happened to IM me with one short but thought-provoking sentiment:

"I... need TV."

I laughed a little, but it also started me down a specific road - and then she added to her comment, which only further led me to this very blogging topic: "I mean... when all I'm down to is watching America's Best Dance Crew or Celebrity Rehab, it's time for new TV."

Just the other night I saw that she had put up an away message that clearly stated her longing for the day when she would finally hear again: "Next Thursday, on an all new Grey's Anatomy..."

The fact of the matter is, even though the strike is officially over we're still being tortured with it's effects. TV won't be returning for another month or more, as it will take them all a while to write and film and edit and complete these all-new episodes. Despite being supportive and understanding of the writers' plight early on, it got old fast and the remaining torturous wait is putting faithful viewers at the breaking point.

Caroline pointed out to me just last night that Lost's head writer, Damon Lindelof, had actually been quoted discussing this very issue:

"I will probably be dragged through the streets and burned in effigy if fans have to wait another year for 'Lost' to come back. And who could blame them? Public sentiment may have swung toward the guild for now, but once the viewing audience has spent a month or so subsisting on 'America's Next Hottest Cop' and 'Celebrity Eating Contest,' I have little doubt that the tide will turn against us."

I take a great deal of comfort in the fact that a strong and respected member of the guild is smart enough and outspoken enough to admit that even though they were striking for reasons they believed in, it was obviously going to be really effing annoying to all of their loyal fans. I love Damon Lindelof, always have - that quote only made Caroline and I love him all the more.

And he is completely and totally correct in his assumption, too. Caroline and I are both on the bandwagon of people that got sick of the strike pretty damn quick and were screaming in the streets with our own picket signs that said in big, black Sharpie marker: "Stop being greedy! Go back to work!" Mind you, I was totally supportive and walking the guild picket line right along with the writers in the beginning. I would drive past Universal Studios every day on my way to work back in November and early December, and I would honk my horn at the picket line and wave to them all with a supportive smile upon my face. But the thing is, it got old. Fast. At first it was sort of like, "okay well we typically don't get episodes for a good 3 - 4 weeks during December/January anyway so it's not much harm done..."

Then it became clear that we were really on the verge of being royally screwed, to the point of not even getting to finish out the season of some of our favorite shows. Friday Night Lights was well-prepared and played out brand new episodes all of January and well into February, but the last one that aired could very well be THE LAST ONE. The show may not survive losing the end of it's season and the chance to pick up ratings and viewers with the springtime run. Caroline and I will be heartbroken if we never get to find out what happens to Saracen and Julie or Riggins and Lyla - or, more importantly, Tyra and Landry who were finally getting their shit together in that last episode. I'm already pissed that I lost Journeyman as a casualty of the strike, but I will be livid and likely inconsolable if we are stripped of FNL simply because the strike took away it's opportunity to finish out the season. I'm moving to Austin this summer, okay, and I'd like the chance to be an extra at Panther football games next year. Don't kill my dream.

There is a big, bright light at the end of the tunnel though, and ABC Network is taking full advantage of that fact. They have been airing a new promo recently that Caroline and I both love so much that we've found it hard to even speak about sometimes, it excites us that much. Major, serious props to the ABC promo department for this, because it plays on the emotions of the fans so perfectly and beautifully - I get so thrilled and bouncy every time that I see it, I can hardly contain myself. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check this out (and be patient with the color bars at the beginning, this is the best quality video of it I could find):

Oh, so marvelous. My absolute favorite moment is when the text says "It's been a long winter" right at the same moment that the song lyrics are promising "...but something is happening" as we see Jack & Kate and flow into a text reminding us that "spring is almost here" and for the love of all that is good and wondrous, my TV is coming back! Just that lovely acknowledgement of how long of a winter it has been thanks to this ugly strike - that makes my heart all aflutter. There's something so comforting and pleasing in knowing they get it - they understand just how frustrating and painful this has been to the loyal fans, and that all we want is to have our shows back. And that if we could just please get some new episodes already, maybe we'd be willing to forget all about this little ol' strike and pretend that the long winter never happened.

Because my friend Marie is right. There comes a moment for all of us that we reach that breaking point, and we suddenly realize that this cannot continue. We need new, scripted, honest-to-goodness TV back already and we need it ASAP. Our brains are turning to mush and 'shipper hearts really can't survive that long or that well without something new and fresh to invest that energy into. We need to see what happens with Derek & Meredith, despite the fact that when the last episode aired we were so totally frustrated with them that we were ready to throw in the hat; absence makes the heart grow fonder in this instance, I suppose. And I will literally kill someone if we don't get back to putting an end to the George/Izzie story already. It turns my stomach to know that it still exists, even in strike limbo. Come back and end it! Put us out of our misery!

The reality of the situation is this: in my opinion, too many people celebrated the end of the strike far too soon. There are lasting, annoying effects that we will not be free of until mid- to late-April where most of my favorite shows are concerned. Am I glad that the strike is over? Hell yes, of course I am. But I'm not going to pull out the vodka and blow up any balloons in party preparation until the week they all actually start airing again. We still have a journey of nothing intelligent at all being on TV for a good six weeks or so, and I for one am definitely going to be feeling that pain. And, honestly, that bitterness. Had the writers gotten their shit together and ended this strike after only one month, we'd already be back in business and there'd be nothing to discuss. They carried on too long, and I honestly think they'd have carried on a lot longer were it not for the threat of destroying the Oscars. I'm going to remain bitter and impatient, but that ABC promo sure does brighten my day and get me jumping up and down in anticipation. Like I said, once my shows are all back I'm sure the strike and post-strike agony will all become a distant memory to me and my friends. So long as all of my shows (including FNL!) survive to see another season.

And so long as the actors don't turn around and strike themselves in a few months.

Don't even get me started on that one.

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