Saturday, November 10, 2007

Strike the hand that feeds you (E Commentary for the week of 11-3 thru 11-10)

The Strike
With the current Hollywood writers strike showing no signs of ending (some sources say that we should expect it drag out for 10 months to a year), I thought I would offer my thoughts on the whole debacle. For those who don't know, the writer's strike started as a result of the studios refusing to properly compensate the writers for their work. The writer's simply wanted a better deal as far as DVD sales is concerned (the one they have now is crap) and they wanted a cut of the money that studios are making through iTunes sales, online streaming and a few other kinds of new media. The question is, are the writers justified?
Quite simply, yes. They are beyond justified. These are not spoiled athletes trying to talk the owners into bumping up their salaries a few million dollars a year. The average salary for members of the Writers Guild of America is $200,000 (in comparison to producers who pull in 2 million a year) and when you take out big name WGA members like Steve Carrell, Seth MacFarlane and Tina Fey...that number drops drastically. In all reality, the average WGA member is really just a middle class workers like most of us. Truth be told, some of them would even be classified as lower middle class. So when they are in between projects, it would be nice to have some royalties for their work considering they don't have millions to live off of.
Showrunners from The Office's Greg Daniels to Smallville's Alfred Gough and even tonight show host, Jay Leno, have all offered their support to the writers. In fact, most of the commentary you read on the strike will most likely come to the conclusion that the writers have every right to be doing this. And there's a pretty simple reason for that....they do.
Of course the studios have Michael Eisner speaking on their behalf, comparing the writer's to spoiled children and doing his best to portray them as a bunch of money hungry monsters. Of course, Michael Eisner would know a thing or two about being a money hungry monsters, but that's simply not the case here. It would appear that he's just looking out for his own, he knows the pressure of trying to protect one's precious millions and having some stupid worker way below you on the totem pole come and ask for proper compensation for their work. How rude!
24 on indefinete hiatus, shows like Heroes, Prison Break, CSI and The Office only have a few more finished episodes left to air, and one of my personal favorites, Scrubs may not even be able to properly finish their final season. While you may want to blame the writers, I would hope that one would fully investigate the situation and come to the only legitimate conclusion: the studios are ridiculous.
here's the little known, dirty little secret...the writers caved a little during the negotiations. now the studios would like everyone to believe that the writers just simply walked out in the middle of negotiations and promptly began to throw a temper tantrum by way of a strike. However, it was the writers who backed down from a getting a better deal for the DVD sales (have i mentioned the one they have now is pathetic) and were simply seeking compensation for new media. By the way, new media is quite obviously the way of the future and the writers were just simply asking to be part of the process. after all....they wrote the stuff.
with every day that drags on, it becomes more and more clear that studios are not only greedy, they're stupid. This is horrible for the entertainment industry, it is gonna end up costing them a lot more money than it's worth, and it just leaves the american people quite ticked off. however, i just encourage to guide that anger in the right direction. sure, the writers could accept another bad deal and be cheated out of a lot of money and royalties that are rightfully theirs, but they are making a bold and important move, and you gotta support them.

Green Week
As someone who is essentially a TV addict, I have come to realize that a large amount of television that I enjoy happens to be on NBC. NBC has really stepped it up in the last few years, putting some really impressive programming on the air....and it was a shame to see them give themselves a black eye this past week.
NBC decided to use one of their "sweeps" weeks to portray an environmentally friendly message, showing others how to be "green" and help the environment. Now, this isn't a bad message and having the cast members give "green" tips during commercial breaks was certainly acceptable, but forcing your shows to work a "green" related storyline into its broadcast for that week was a poor and unacceptable move.
On shows like Chuck and Scrubs, their effort to work an environmentally conscious message into their episodes this week was distracting and forced. The janitor being inspired to save the world after watching An Inconvenient Truth was simply not funny and didn't even work for his characters. Shows like The Office kind of shunned the idea of going green, but Michael's wilderness trip seemed to have suffice. Friday Night Lights made the cut by having one character make one passing comment about something environmentally friendly. Life's subplot about Detective Crews desire to visit a solar farm, however, was just absolutely ridiculous. 30 Rock was bold enough to just essentially mock NBC for this effort....but just between you and me, I don't think NBC got it.
The problem with this idea is this: it is never ok to FORCE writers to write some sort of propaganda into their television shows. It was incredibly distracting and it really just seemed like NBC was not concerned in making quality TV this week. It's one thing for a network to get incolved with a cause, but it is a whole other for them to force their shows to compromise their artistic integrity to fit into some gimmicky promotion.
While some shows were able to go "green" without really trying too hard, other shows were really hurt this week by their sad attempts to please NBC.

The Crossover
Well, CBS decided that it would be a great idea to have a CSI/Without a Trace crossover episode this week, just in time for sweeps, of course. I have never seen an episode of Without a Trace in my life and I don't think I want to. Anthony LaPaglia's character is, quite frankly, obnoxious as all get out and cocky on top of that. He was a poor fit in the crime lab and there was not a really an adequate excuse for this FBI agent from New York to randomly show up in Vegas for this case in a first place. He hears that a little boy's been murdered and automatically assumes it's a little boy who went missing 6 years ago....ok. It was a stretch and the crossover was just simply captivating to make me even want to stick around for the Without a Trace hour of it. I couldn't look at Lapaglia's freakin mug for two more seconds. He does the most annoying thing with his mouth when he's talking....

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