By Alexander B. Huls
Tim Kring & Co. are A-OK in my book
After doling (that’s my new favorite word) out a fair amount of criticism in the direction of Heroes, I have to admit — I feel sort of guilty now that Tim Kring has come out and admitted to and apologized for the mistakes made so far in Season Two. You’d think after all my huffing and puffing, I’d be here doing the Dance of Joy and muttering “I was right” to myself, but all I really have to say is how much respect I now have for Kring. My issues with the Season One finale and the current season aside, it’s hard enough for a creative individual to watch criticism perpetually thrown at his/her little baby; but to then absorb them, process them, and concede that those criticisms are valid, then apologize for them, and promise to fix things? That, fair readers, makes Tim Kring and his fellow writers what one would call stand-up acts. I know they are not reading this, but nevertheless, I wish to salute them — one and all — for doing something that can’t have been easy to do. It indicates an admirable honesty and impressive respect for their audiences — something I thought they had lost with the Season One finale. I was wrong.
Canada gets darker
Television shows shot in Canada are now beginning to shut-down. Not so much of a loss for Bionic Woman, but Battlestar Galactica? With Season Four already delayed till April, all I can say is that the studios better trip, get some sense knocked into their heads, and decide to finally give the writers what they deserve, because I need more Battlestar Galactica. Sure, Razor tides me over, but if you saw the Season Three finale, you’ll know how hard it is already to be waiting.
The strike is certainly having an interesting effect on most television shows. With scripts now starting to run out, many shows are creating pseudo-finales so that there is a degree of closure for viewers, or an incentive for them to return whenever the strike is resolved. In some cases, writers had enough of a heads-up to accommodate the strike, while in other cases show-runners are creating alternate endings that could be used should the strike not be resolved by the time of their airing. Of course this isn’t always easy, and in some cases it will really suck — such as with Lost, which already has an expiry date (2010) with a certain amount of episodes to be fulfilled. Or what about 24? Like Lost, as of now, it only has eight episodes. Unless they aim to rename it 8, it may not very work well. Then again, given the production woes that have plagued this season of the show, maybe it’s a mercy kill. Especially for show creators trying to form a sense of closure, these shortened seasons signal an acceptance of the possibility that this strike might go on for quite a while.
The thing about these truncated seasons is, that although there is a degree of truth to the many studios’ obnoxious assertions that writers will be more negatively affected by the strike than the studios themselves, I keep on thinking that it’s hot air. Sure, reality shows will re-emerge (unfortunately), but I’m not convinced that they will be as successful as they used to be, especially now that narrative shows have once again gained a significant foothold. If reality shows fail to draw large audiences, then of course, less viewers means less advertising money. I’m also thinking about the lost revenue in DVD sales. TV-on-DVD has become a booming market — both in rental and retail — and shorter seasons mean distributors can’t charge as much, which — ironically and unfortunately — means even less royalty money for writers. The writers are going to be hit hard, no doubt, but if you consider the huge amount of money that is at stake for greedy studios unwilling to concede to writers’ demands? I don’t know. I don’t get it.
On that note, now’s probably the appropriate time — if you hadn’t noticed already — to express my 100 percent solidarity with the writers who deserve every cent they ask for and a crap-load more. It’s mind-boggling that screenwriters and television writers get so royally screwed over when in most other major writer professions (novel writers, non-fiction, playwrights) things are so different. Thank a rich tradition dating back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, where writers were as expendable and exchangeable as light bulbs — an attitude that was never corrected, as is readily apparent with this current strike. I could go on a nice long rant over the issues, but maybe I’ll save that for another time. My soap box is currently at the dry cleaner’s, so I feel ill-prepared.