According to an article on Yahoo.com this morning, the reality-based warrior show, "American Gladiators," recently had the best debut of the new year.
Never mind the fact that the show is hosted by Hulk Hogan. Never mind the fact that it pits everyday folks against American Gladiators, well-muscled, well-oiled, well-steriodized wrestlers. Never mind the fact that it's the first of many reality shows to hit the airwaves in lieu of the scripted dramas networks can no longer produce.
What we should be mindful of is the affect these shows have on the viewing public. It's hard enough to get a scripted drama or sit-com on the air anymore and keep it there. Now, seasons have been interrupted and who's to say what will happen when and if those seasons again resume. New shows, like "Bionic Woman" which were barely holding their own before, may not retain their audience after this forced hiatus.
With "American Idol" and "American Gladiator" as our only offerings for the spring, the future looks bleak for actual, thought-provoking dramas. What will become of our favorite characters as the networks and Writer's Guild engage in their own gladiatorial battle of wills? Will Jim and Pam manage to stay together? Will Galactica and her crew ever find Earth? Are Jessica/Nikki and Nathan really dead? Will Hiro ever get the girl?
These are the questions we must have answers to - at least, myself and my friends must have answers to. The end of this year's TV season is in jeopardy and now it appears next year's premiere season may be suffering as well. Similar to the baseball strike of so many years ago, a protracted deficit of original programming could severely deplete an already wavering audience. The Golden Globes, my personal favorite of the self-aggrandizing award shows circuit, will be a shadow of itself this weekend, while the Oscars will just be sad. I don't even want to think about an unscripted Grammy's or Emmy's telecast.
However, with Hollywood firmly entrenched in the golden rule - he with the gold makes the rules - I don't know what the solution may be. I've been to the picket lines, I've donated money, I've agreed not to watch any shows that cross the picket lines, but is this really having any effect? I want to believe it is. I want to believe that the Studios aren't made up of hefty white men, smoking cigars in hazy rooms laughing at the stupidity of the writers and their fans.
I want to believe even more that the Studio Chiefs will do the "right" thing - I want to believe they'll share the wealth and come to their senses. On good days, when I'm optimistic about the human race, I do believe they'll wake up and smell the lost revenue.
On bad days, kinda like today, when my cynicism chokes my senses, I don't have a lot of hope.
I really wish I did.