What will the Writers’ Guild strike do to UK television?

The threatened strike by the Writers' Guild of America has been causing all sorts of panic... but we don't need to panic, do we? Do we?

Heroes! Lots of them!

Let’s face it, most UK produced TV is a bit rubbish, and the good ones rarely last. So it’s a good thing we have the USA big budget shows to fill us up. That, is now in jeopardy.

If you didn’t already know, the Writers’ Guild of America (the ones who write all the shows) is going on strike. In all fairness, I agree with it. They don’t get paid for their work being used on other mediums like the Internet or portable players and they really should. It’s their job to write scripts, and they do, all just for our entertainment, oh, and because of money. Money makes the people live. They don’t get it, they don’t buy food, they steal and go to jail or they die of starvation. Either way, your favourite show goes down the can.

Here’s where you say, “But we’re across the ocean, and we don’t get those shows for months after they air them anyway!” This, in all fairness, is true. But it doesn’t stop the delays. Or the cancellations. Or the contracts running out.

What’s first on the chopping board? Heroes: Origins. A six part mini series for the American public to decide which hero would be added to the cast in season 3. Folk like Kevin Smith and Eli Roth were on the roster of names connected with the show and while it felt a little too much like X Factor to be voting for the next TV star, it was still going to be a juicy little series. Now it’s gone. It could come back, but due to cutbacks, probably not any time soon.

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Next up? Almost every new show that’s gliding over some patchy ice. If the strike lasts too long, decisions will need to be made about which shows to keep and which to axe. Time is money in the big bad world of TV, and so are shows, so anything remotely shaky?  Out. Meaning, for example, CW may have to choose between cutting Reaper, a promising Devil’s bounty hunter dramedy, or Gossip Girl, a gossiping blogger at a private school. Clearly, Reaper is better. But we all know, in crunch time, they’d pick the one with more “hot people” in it, and Reaper mainly has ugly people. Sucks to be hideous.

Okay, so what would they fill their primetime with? Well, you have to hate Big Brother even more for starting this horrible cycle. You don’t have to write much of anything for something that’s completely unscripted. Yep, you guessed it, reality shows, hours and hours and hours of them. And one thing’s for sure – the UK will be jumping on that train. We’ve all skimmed by E4 at summertime, when they show American reality shows, or worse, their own remakes. It’s horrible. It needs to end. But it won’t. And if you thought that was the worst of it, be prepared to be surprised.

More shows will be affected. Cancellations may be more commonplace in the 07-08 season. And the big guns may even get snatched away. “The Big Guns?” I hear you ask – well, Lost, 24 and Heroes. There are more, but they’re mostly rubbish so I’ll focus on the ones I actually know about.Lost: Scheduled to start in January 08, Lost was keeping its filming pushed back as far as possible, to avoid spoilers and information leaks. Well, they may have avoided pleasing the fans too. The 16 episode season was intended to run straight through, with no week breaks in programming. It seems Lost may run longer and longer, depending on the length of the strike, with breaks all the time. Which in turn, means UK viewers have to wait longer and longer to see what happens next.

24: With things like the show’s move to D.C. and Kiefer’s move to a county jail cell looming, 24 could end up in development hell. Shows can’t get made if a) the scripts aren’t there and b) the star is in prison. Time will tell…

Heroes: This news is the biggest tragedy yet. Season 2 may finish incomplete. The current season has already suffered undeservedly lower ratings and reviews, but what may happen is unprecedented and shocking. By roughly 11 episodes in, the season may have to be brought to a closure in December by a conclusion, filmed only for use in case of a prolonged strike. Since this news comes just days before the strike, the work will probably be sharp and guaranteed to be the show’s demise.

Unfortunately, this all may come to pass very soon. We can only hope that nothing as drastic as what has been mentioned will happen, and that the writers get the money they deserve. May this be a quick strike!

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