So the three-month-long Writers Guild of America vs. the Money-Clenching Weasels of Amerika strike is finally over—what does it mean to you and your favorite scripted network shows? (If your favorite shows are reality replacements, just go die.) Some will be resuming production ASAP in order to finish the 2007-08 television season and avoid a May Sweeps period full of cheap reality filler (see below); others won’t be back until the fall or even 2009. Probable April/May returnees: 30 Rock, Brothers & Sisters, Criminal Minds, CSI (all three flavors), Desperate Housewives, Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, House, How I Met Your Mother, My Name is Earl, NCIS, Numb3rs, The Office (!), Private Practice, Smallville, Supernatural, Two & a Half Men and Ugly Betty. Shows with new/leftover pre-strike eps to air soon: Back to You, Bones, Everybody Hates Chris, Las Vegas, Men in Trees, Reaper, Samantha Who? and Scrubs. Likely dead and gone forever: Bionic Woman, Life Is Wild and Women’s Murder Club. In the meantime, you’ve got …
Cheap Reality Filler
Strike-gappers debuting this week: My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad (NBC, Monday), The Pussycat Dolls: Girlicious (The CW, Monday) and America’s Next Top Model: Cycle 374 (The CW, Wednesday). Already back, hence that smell of brimstone: American Idol (Fox), Big Brother (CBS) and Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann (ABC). The fact that network execs and production studios chose to greenlight stopgap shit like this instead of reaching an agreement with the WGA months ago just proves what cheap bastards they are. Or how dumb America is to take it. OK, maybe 50-50 …
Dexter Sunday, Feb. 17 (CBS)
Network Debut: Then again, the strike has also produced wonderfully weird timeslot-filling experiments like this: Showtime’s Dexter repurposed to corporate broadcast cousin CBS. (Yes, it’s really happening—quit e-mailing and texting “No fucking way!” to me already.) CBS’ idiotic insistence on marketing Dexter (about a Miami Police forensics analyst who moonlights as a vigilante serial killer) like another CSI knockoff aside, this move is genius: First, Dexter is compelling and character-driven enough to survive edits for non-premium broadcast without looking ridiculous (ahem, Sopranos on A&E). Second, CBS is getting free boycott press from the Morally Outraged Pinheads at the Parents Television Council, who are absolutely flipping their blue wigs over the possibility that The Children—habitual fans of Shark at 9 p.m. Sundays, apparently—might be scarred by Dexter. Third, once CBS finishes airing Season 1’s 12 episodes, they can drive the newly hooked to subscribe to Showtime for the repeat of Season 2, which, conveniently, will run into Season 3 now that the writers are back to work. CBS: Corporate Brand Synergy!
Nip/Tuck Tuesday, Feb. 19 (FX)
Season Finale: If Fox ever tries to reconfigure FX’s Nip/Tuck for broadcast, expect the Parents Television Council to graduate from sponsor boycotts to suicide bombings—they really, really hate this show. Which means The Only TV Column That Matters™ should love it, right? Used to, and this season—wherein plastic surgeons Sean and Christian moved their decadent practice and habits to decadent-er Los Angeles—has almost restored my faith: Christian’s member has been whipped out in so many episodes that it should get its own opening credit; Sean’s had his way with a teen temptress (!) and Paula Marshall (!!), then in turn gets screwed by a TV critic (!!!); Julia and Matt, barely seen nor missed—and now presumed dead. It’s been a mojo-refreshing season, but where does a show that the PTC condemns as “one of the most profane, sexually explicit and violent shows in the history of television” go from here? Hey, as long as there’s basic cable in Hell …
Several different couples yak it up after getting it on. Not sold yet? How about Mila Kunis as a lesbian? OK, then. AnchorBayEntertainment.com
A good-lookin’ cop (Russell Crowe) takes on a good-lookin’ drug kingpin (Denzel Washington) in a good-lookin’ crime thriller. NBCUni.com
Jason Statham does his ass-kickin’ action-flick thing again; this time, he’s out to bring down … a computer virus. Damned nerds. Lionsgate.com
The true story of the Mafia, as told by a documentary filmmaker who may or may not be sleeping with alleged fish. FirstRunFeatures.com
From the director of The Hulk: Politics, love, espionage and NC-17 sexy time set against the backdrop of 1940s China. FocusFeatures.com
Brian DePalma’s “War Is Bad” propaganda film that pissed off right-wing pinheads everywhere—so at least it did some good. MagPictures.com
More New DVD Releases (Feb. 19)
Kurt Cobain: About a Son, Rendition, Terror’s Advocate, Walker Texas Ranger: Season 4
If you skipped last Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, you’re not alone—viewership was down, even with the anticipation of a possible hissy-fit from Kanye West (he won, so no dice). Overall, the show was just another corporate circle-jerk, with the notable exception of Amy Winehouse’s spirited medley of “I’m No Good/Rehab.” It was the only genuine moment of the night—look it up.
Listen to Bill Mondays at 8 a.m. on X96’s Radio From Hell. No NC-17 blogging at BillFrost.tv.