That’s how I felt when I tuned in to Jay Leno’s humorless first show of 2008. Granted, Leno wasn’t funny before 2008.
That’s how I felt when I watched the Golden Globe Awards. Or at least the drab, star-less press conference.
That’s how I felt when I spent two consecutive hours watching Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? And no, I’m not.
Because of the striking Writers Guild of America, we’ve been left with mind-draining, brain-numbing television. But the writers aren’t the ones to blame – it’s the big wigs, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
More than 12,000 members of the guild began picketing Nov. 5, primarily as a result of the questionable distribution of online profits. Writers deservingly want more cuts from their work, and the AMPTP isn’t budging.
AMPTP members, if you’re reading this humble entertainment column, we need our writers back. Without them, America is heading toward an intellectual meltdown. When Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes president, we’ll blame you.
Without the writers expressing their creativity, we suffer. We can’t get the joy out of what networks air. We can’t talk at the water cooler about last night’s Grey’s Anatomy. You owe us our writers, and here’s why:
1. Shows are canceled for a reason.
Now that the networks aired all the new shows they have, they’re showing ones they’ve already shelved.
Prime example: ABC has shown its lack of hope for Notes from the Underbelly, a sitcom that’s been scheduled and rescheduled multiple times over many months. The effort is unfounded, as the show isn’t even laugh-out-loud funny.
Now, “new” episodes of Underbelly are airing on ABC – the ones that never made it to air because the show was put on hold. These episodes are now airing in lieu of good programming.
If the strike continues, television entertainment as we know it will become defunct. And not only will the writers be out of business, but you will be, too. And I know you want to keep those fancy suits and Lamborghinis.
2. Reality doesn’t cut it.
Fox aired four hours of American Idol in two days. That’s unhealthy in every sense of the word, especially during auditions.
I thought we’d finally be done with Wife Swap. But there it was on television Wednesday night. As addicting as it is, I’d probably have a cleaner soul without it. And keep in mind, you can’t have Wife Swap without Supernanny immediately following.
Fox also premiered the much-hyped The Moment of Truth, a lie-detector game show that is mostly scripted and has the sole purpose of humiliating the contestants and their closest friends and family.
Having the writers back means more meaningfully scripted sitcoms and dramas. More importantly, we’ll have fewer “reality” shows.
For now, we’re being corrupted, which leads to. . .
3. mom mom’s always right.
My grandmother has told me her thoughts on television for years. When the television phenomenon began spreading in the 1950s and ’60s, she became wary immediately.
“I’ve said it from the beginning. They need to put every television set on a barge, send it into the Atlantic, and sink it,” she said. It still rings in my ears.
Not settling with the writers is creating garbage like the poorly crafted reality shows and the lackluster scripted ones. Gather the barges.
There is hope, however. For the most part, it seems that the stars are on the writers’ side and are not crossing the picket line. This is good, as this coalition is sending a wake-up call to the movie studios and networks, particularly the Oscar-hosting ABC.
The alphabet net is shaking in its boots as the future of the biggest night in Tinsel Town, scheduled for Feb. 24, is up in the air.
If the strike continues, one scenario calls for Academy Awards host Jon Stewart to ad-lib the show to a likely less-than-empty Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
Awkward. . .
Chris Stover can be reached at