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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Does no new TV really mean no new TV?

If I could play devil's advocate before turkey-induced slumber takes precedence over TV viewing (and blog posting) during the next few days, one thing the striking writers may have underestimated is how much their already abundant production could work against them.

As I prepare to watch Paul "Pee Wee" Reubens' guest appearance on "Pushing Daisies" tonight, the strike in no way has me feeling as if November sweeps month is any less, er, sweeping, than years past. Yes, a black January is right around the corner. Sure, "The Office" doesn't have any more fresh episodes. And true, "Lost" might get cut off after its episode eight bombshell is dropped next year.

But while all that bums me out, I still feel overwhelmed by the assortment of entertainment options at my fingertips. My DVR is currently stacked with unwatched B-list shows like "My Name is Earl" and "Scrubs." Food Network has been relentless in its Thanksgiving coverage - and damn, it makes me hungry, even if my cooking skills are confined to sticking Eggo waffles in the toaster. I've also yet to tackle any of the extras on my newly-opened "Twin Peaks" Gold Box DVD set, and of course, there's always the familiar, inviting glow of "Freaks and Geeks" to keep me warm and distracted as winter approaches. Essentially, it all means a dearth of fresh episodes won't leave me so incredibly desperate that I'd actually consider moving away from the TV and interacting with real people.

Most pertinent of all, I can't be the only one who is looking forward to being introduced to shows I've neglected to watch in the past. For instance, the series I'm most excited about at the moment has been out since 2002, yet I've just now completed Season One on DVD. "The Wire" is some of the most compelling television I've ever seen, and honestly, I feel ridiculous to have ignored it for this long. Having gone without a permanent commitment to HBO until this past year, I've resolved to get caught up before the fifth and final season (which thankfully, won't be affected by the strike) kicks up in January. As a result, digging deep into the richly detailed Baltimore backstory has me more fired up than anything new coming out - even "Daisies" or "Lost."

I'll eventually get around to posting about "The Wire's" unflinching depiction of urban America as I move further ahead in my viewing. But once everything goes dark, maybe this strike won't mean much to average or even rabid TV viewers because there's already a built-in excuse. A lack of new "Lost" will just mean some reheated Season Three DVD leftovers to get ready for the eventual strike compromise. Maybe longtime "Seinfeld" fans will finally stop neglecting Larry David's equally brilliant "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and revel in Season Six's impeccable ending instead of recycling the same Festivus jokes. And no more "30 Rock?" I introduce you to "Flight of the Conchords," which you've also probably never watched because a lack of premium cable got in the way.

Simply put, if you're only allowed to miss something when it's gone, can a strike's impact really be felt when previously written episodes on DVD make perfect stocking stuffers?

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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