Chuck Countdown

Filed under:Not Cool,Priorities,Television — posted by Anwyn on December 3, 2007 @ 12:16 pm

Or, Please Settle the Writers’ Strike. Please. Seriously.

Tonight will be the first of the last three available episodes of Chuck. House and Bones are in the same tank, three episodes left, but they have both already, er, chucked it in until after New Year’s. Moonlight is already gone, or at least it has no upcoming episodes and Ausiello doesn’t have anything in his report about it. On a pretty serious cliffhanger, too. And those are ranked in order of quality–I don’t want anybody to dismiss my opinion of Chuck because I also like Moonlight. They’re not in the same class, but if you take my Chuck you should at least have the decency to leave me something to watch. No? It’s not your fault, you say? The writers are striking?

Let’s get this going, people. Let me tell you how this is going to play out, networks: You are going to lose a lot of money when these dramas go off the air, money that you might have lost anyway by actually paying the writers, for downloads, something more than the reported pittance you pay them for DVD sales, but some of the money you paid them would have been made up by, I don’t know, continuing revenue from the dramas. Which you now won’t have, and you’ll still pay most of the money in the end anyway, because they are striking.

I know it can’t be as simple as that, but all the sources I’ve read do seem to agree on download money as the biggest roadblock right now, which is incomprehensible to me. If it is really as simple as all that, the writers deserve a percentage, period. And to the person at Kyle Smith’s who doesn’t make money every time his phone system is used, let me ask you: Do they pay you by the system? Oh, you mean they pay you to come in every day and work on the system whether it results in a viable new moneymaking system or not? That’s what I thought.

As for the thought that people will watch whatever’s on, I sincerely hope that’s not true, but the rise of shows like Survivor and American Idol does seem to indicate that a vast cattle-like herd of American TV watchers will prolong this sucker to the detriment of those of us who prefer a good script–and to the detriment of those who write same. Get it settled. I don’t know enough to sit here and say for certain the problem is all on the networks’ side, and of course the world, and network TV, will go on despite this, but it will be a shame if good shows dribble off down into the drainpipe, never to be recovered, because some people can’t recognize the inevitable when they see it.

And the inevitable is that people are not going to accept a tiny flat fee for what could be a million-dollar download business. Why anybody wants to download their TV shows rather than watch them on TiVo is beyond my comprehension, but apparently some people do. Right now, all I see on the networks is “Watch this show for free at” If there’s no money in the model, obviously the writers can’t get any money, but there must be money in the model or the networks wouldn’t do it. So a percentage of advertising or whatever it is the networks get out of it seems pretty basic. I realize this is all more complicated than I have any idea of–are the ads in the download or are they just on the overall page? is just an example of a question that would have to be thrashed out, but indications right now are that the networks are offering something paltry without getting into details of what the money really is.

This post is like a person groping in the dark to find something they’ve lost. I don’t know the first thing about the workings of a negotiation like this or about the issues it’s built on. All I know is how sad I will be when my shows go off. Please, people, figure it out so that we can all have what we like again–people, shows; writers, gigs; networks, big hits.

one comment so far »

  1. I hope that Chuck survives too! A friend of mine turned me on to the show this season, and it + the new Bionic Woman series got me really watching American TV again. Fun stuff! Chuck is cool, he is my kind of 21st century action man. Friend also pointed out that the NSA agent is played by the same Baldwin fellow that played Jayne in Firefly. Cool!

    Comment by fallohide — December 9, 2007 @ 9:05 am

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