As you obviously know, the Writers Strike started this week. And it looks like it’s going to be a long, hard slog that may not be resolved for months — maybe not even until the Actors and Directors contracts are up next June. That’s a long time, and while there are any number of articles discussing the anticipated consequences of the strike, what about the unanticipated consequences?
By definition, of course, those are impossible to predict. Which is why I’m going to predict them. So, without any further ado, here are six unanticipated consequences of the writers strike.
- Your DVR is going to lie to you – Mine started Monday night: it grabbed “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” as if they were first-run episodes, but they were dirty filthy stinking rotten repeats. Of course, I wasn’t surprised, but my TiVo had no clue, and spent nearly 15 minutes abjectly apologizing after I pointed out its mistake. I forgave it, of course. As the networks scramble with shows that fail to meet their anticipated production schedules, you are going to get more and more repeats that your DVR thinks are first-run episodes. For those of us who are continually running our DVRs on the edge of it’s hard drive capacity, this is a bit of good news, but it’s also a pain in the ass.
- DVD Player Sales Spike – As interesting first-run TV shows trail off, people will be working their DVD players more and more as they catch up on the stockpile of DVDs that they’ve acquired but haven’t found the time to watch. A natural consequence of this is that a lot of older DVD players finally give up the ghost, necessitating their replacement.
Interestingly enough, this might actually be a tipping point for either HD DVD or Blu-Ray: people might take a chance on one or the other — especially the models that promise to upconvert SD DVDs — just because the prices have dropped so much recently.
- The End of This Golden Age of TV – It’s no secret that in the past few years, we’ve been living in an era with the best Television ever created. And while I think that era actually peaked in 2004-2005 (since then, we’ve lost The Sopranos, Deadwood, Veronica Mars, The West Wing) (and we are on track to lose The Wire, Battlestar Galactica, Scrubs), the Writers Strike will hasten the demise. And not just because the networks will flood the airwaves with reality shows.
I think that the it is going to be a matter of momentum. Creative momentum. You can also watch a TV show gather steam over the course of a season: it happened last year to Heroes and 30 Rock as the writers got on top of their ideas and the actors got inside of their characters. You saw it this year with Mad Men, and you were beginning to see it with Pushing Daisies.
And now, all of that momentum is gone. Poof. All of the ideas piling on top of each other that would have happened just because of the need to create under deadline and the immediate link to the previous ideas that worked — that’s all gone. Is momentum important? Ask the Colorado Rockies. Ask nearly every single band who has ever broken up and reunited. Ask any fan of the first three Star Wars films if they would have rather George Lucas follow his original plan of making a new film every three years or waited 20 years for the next installment.
It’s going to take a toll on quality.
- The End of Reality TV – Forget the fact that Reality TV is essentially scripted by the Producers. (Which, of course, says a lot about — well, everything.) And forget the fact that it continues to be a viable genre. If the networks think that they are going to flood us with nothing but Reality TV, we will rebel. It’s that simple. And it will affect the bottom line.
I have a shitload of DVDs that I can watch. This last summer, I did not watch a single episode of a single Primetime TV show on NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX or CW. I am fully prepared to do that again, and I guarantee that I’m not the only one.
It’s entirely possible that by the end of the strike, the only show that is still getting good numbers is American Idol. Everything else in the Top Ten will be wayy down from the scripted shows that they replaced.
- More bad movies – Or worse, movies that could have been pretty good with just a few tweaks on-set. The studios have been stockpiling scripts. That’s what we have been told. And, of course, every single one of those scripts will be perfect when filmed. Not a single one of them will require a rewrite. Yeah, surrrrrrre.
Obviously, the production schedules will need to be kept, the films will need to be made. But they’ll probably suck a little bit more. Of course, it’s entirely possible that doesn’t matter: as the quality of highest-quality American Television has pretty much surpassed the quality of all but the highest highest quality American Film (possibly because TV has become a writer-driven medium), box office still remains strong.
So maybe it won’t matter: the big screen will continue to be about whizz-bang and spectacle and nothing much else, and as long as the people come, who cares?
I mean, besides the people who care about the quality of films in the first place.
- Traffic gets lighter – A total wish list item. It goes like this: as fewer and fewer people in the L.A. area are going to work; as there are fewer and fewer location shoots, there will be less people on the road during commute hours and the rest of us can get to and from work faster!
So that’s something, isn’t it?