I have sympathy for the TV writers, because I believe the 3 most important elements of a good TV show are story, story and story. You need more than that, but without them you are toast.
But my reaction is not likely to help them. One of the things they are striking for is to make more money off DVD sales and online delivery of their video. But with The Daily Show off the air, we found ourselves reaching for… other old shows on DVD.
The nasty truth is there may already be enough good TV and movies made to satisfy a lot of the public’s TV watching needs, and it’s all on DVD, and will all be online. Not that the industry can’t produce good new shows that are worth watching — but how much do we truly need new shows? We seem to have a preference for novelty, it’s true. And tastes change, making older shows less palatable. And much older shows have poorer production values. (Though in fact, many older shows were shot on film, and thus can now be delivered in HDTV to provide a superior experience to when they were aired.)
But our taste for novelty is just a taste. We can be quite happy for the duration of a writers’ strike satisfying ourselves from the very media they are not being paid enough for. In a better quality format, commercial-free.
This strike grid from the LA Times shows that a lot of shows have plenty of scripts in the can as well. Outside of shows like The Daily Show and Tonight Show, the public isn’t even going to notice many shows leaving the air for some time to come. The writers are hoping they can threaten the “pilot” season and thus scare the networks into worrying they will not have new shows for a Fall season. (This need of course is related to the public’s demand for novelty.)
Networks can’t easily go and put a series from the 80s or 90s on the air as replacement, however. The taste for novelty is quite strong, and too many people will have seen it. This is what DVD/online does better than broadcast. While the odds that you would like to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer or any other specific but have not seen it (in original airing or syndication) are not that good, given the wide selection of DVD out there, the odds that there is something to meet your needs during the strike are high. This is particularly true for the various pay channel series for those who don’t get those channels.
And, especially if you use Netflix or buying and selling used, at a very attractive price.