Weekend Assignment #197: Surviving the Writers’ Guild strike.

Karen Funk Blocher at Outpost Mavarin is taking over John Scalzi’s old beat and giving out “Weekend Assignments” for bloggers. This week it’s Weekend Assignment #197: Now that the WGA strike has had lots of time to affect the prime time television schedules, how is it affecting you as a viewer? What shows do you miss most, aside from reruns?

My response:

It hasn’t affected me at all. I know this sounds really snobbish, but I don’t watch any series television. I occasionally watch the news, and now that the primaries are in full swing I’ll watch MSNBC and CNN more in the evening, but that’s it. I’m working my way through my brother-in-law’s DVDs of the first season of Battlestar Galactica, which is fantastic, but it has taken me three months just to get halfway through the set. My kids mostly watch DVDs (we were watching shows from the second season of the original Scooby-Doo cartoons earlier this evening) or children’s shows that are always reruns anyway — they’re not old enough for series TV.

My wife and I gave up series television a couple of years ago. I remember when we knocked it down to just a few series — House, Desperate Housewives, one or two others — because our Tivo was getting too full. Then we dropped everything but House and — for my wife only — that show that was about Saturday Night Live (not the Tina Fey show, the Aaron Sorkin one). Then I got too busy to bother with House, and my wife’s show was canceled, and we were done.

It wasn’t that we didn’t enjoy the shows when we watched them — we did. It was just that something had to go, and I really couldn’t give up any more sleep. The thing is, once I made the decision to stop watching a particular show, it was really, really easy to stop giving a rat’s ass about it. And once you make that decision about one show, it’s even easier to stop caring about the next one. Deciding to give up the last show was probably the hardest, because I knew that I was entering the realm of the crazy no-TV people, who didn’t understand cultural references and couldn’t carry on a simple conversation at lunch, but who was I kidding? I was barely watching it anyway, so the only conversation about television I could participate in would be the one about how backed up we all are with stuff on our Tivos. Now the only shows backlogged on the Tivo are Thomas the Tank Engine and Super Why. And I’m one of those people who drift off when the conversation turns to TV series (the way I always drifted off when the conversation turned to sports, or golf, or cars).

What do we do instead? In 2007, I worked. Most nights, if I wasn’t on the road or stuck late at the office, I came home, helped get the kids to bed, had dinner if I missed dinner with the kids, and then worked until 11 or 12. If I didn’t have to work, the Mrs. and I might talk or go to bed comparatively early, or read, or just mess around on the Net. On weekends, if we watched anything at all, we would watch one of our backlogged Netflix movies (I think we’re responsible for a measurable percentage of their stock price, because it takes us months to watch a movie). Series television? Who has time?

One thing, though: starting Sunday night, presumably because of the continuing WGA strike, NBC is bringing back American Gladiators, with Muhammad Ali’s daughter and Hulk Hogan as regulars. That I might watch.


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