Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Incremental uptick

Heroes once again improved ever-so-slightly this week, by following a strategy that served them well: ignore one of the two catastrophically dull storylines. Last week, they sliced Peter out, and this week, we avoided any and all contact with Clare Bear and the Boy Who Could Fly. And an escape from Ireland means an escape from bad Irish accents. Of course, they brought in a ringer -- Kristen Bell can stay on this show as long as she wants, I don't care what her power is or who she's working for. (I love the Heroes casting department, by the way. They've brought in Stan Lee, Sulu, Uhura, and now Veronica Mars. They sure know where their fanbase lives, don't they?)

But bad, bad news is potentially on the horizon, and not just for Heroes. The members of the Writer's Guild have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, which could happen after their current deal expires on Halloween. If they strike, television production grinds to a standstill, since any WGA member (which would be pretty much every writer in Hollywood) wouldn't be writing anymore. Of course, the writers for "reality" shows and stuff like American Idol and game shows aren't members of the union, so the number of those programs would increase exponentially. (If you were wondering why there are so many shows like that in the new fall season, it's because TV producers saw this coming and covered their bases.) Some shows might try to continue with scabs and non-writers putting scripts together, but the results wouldn't be pretty. At all. In fact, they'd be downright ugly.

How ugly? Remember the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation? That abysmal, soul-sucking wasteland we wished we could all forget about? The season so fucking bad that most networks just skip over them in syndication? The same networks that gleefully air all of Enterprise and Voyager? Most of that season was made during the last WGA strike, in the late '80s. Now, imagine every single show on television being that bad.

That's how ugly.

But I don't blame the writers for being angry -- they're getting hosed on residuals, thanks to a deal they made back in 1989. That contract made those residuals microscopic for home video releases, which didn't seem that big a deal -- who was buying television shows on home video in 1989 (other than cartoons, maybe, and animated shows generally aren't covered by the Guild, either)? But now -- DVD releases are enormously popular, and the writers think the percentage should be just adjusted to fit the current state of the medium. They also want more for television that's distributed through "new media," which would be internet distribution, cell phone videos, and the like. All in all, good points. The people they're negotiating with, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, made a counter-offer that the WGA found an insult (it would have tied the residuals to the producers' eventual profits, which is unfair to the writers in a few different ways), and a strike was threatened, bringing us to this perilous state.

Of course, the authorization vote doesn't mean they will strike, just that they now can, which is a pretty powerful bargaining chip. And even if they do, nothing says they'll do it the very second the deal expires -- the could wait until June, when both the Directors Guild and Screen Actors Guild's deals run out, and threaten a three-way strike that really would bring Hollywood to its knees.

Here's hoping for the best, huh?

Now playing: Elliott Smith - Between The Bars
via FoxyTunes


  1. Maybe it'll be like the first season, which didn't really really pick up until episode 8 or so.

    And maybe it's because I'm a twin, but I like Maya y Alejandro. Or Maya's hot. Whatever.

  2. I think my biggest problem with the Wonder Twins' storyline is that it's pretty clearly treading water...as are most of the stories, frankly. I know everything's going somewhere, I just wish they'd GET THERE already and stop shuffling their feet.

    That, and Alejandro's power is kinda lame, assuming that hers is the only power he can retract.