The internet is a truly strange beast, causing all manner of surreal happenings. Lately many these happenings have been made aware to me via Twitter.
One such example:
The other day I myself was wondering aloud at what strange times these are in which we are living; that I can now see real-time thoughts from cool people that I dig pouring through my computer (and/or hand-held port-o-phone device) mere milliseconds after said cool person typed them. I mean, I'm sitting here at the computer bored... and so, apparently, is Henry Rollins. And Stephen Colbert. Crazy. At the time that I was musing about the surreality of it all, Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith were sending humorous in-jokes back and forth betwixt themselves, when lo and behold, from out of the blue, I see Wil Wheaton proclaiming the wonder of these times that allow for him to be in line at a comic shop purchasing Fell #9 and seeing real-time quips between the afore-mentioned creators of said comic book. His mind being blown added extra force to my own mind's blowal.
Then the other day Ben Templesmith boggled my mind by announcing that he'd finished the trade paperback of a book that hasn't even finished its run in floppies yet. I mean, I KNOW that that's how the publishing world works, but to hear Ben himself commenting upon it between the caffeine pills and and the jar of faux-urine is mind-bending.
Know what else is mind-bending? Having Warren Ellis respond personally to something you asked. -- Oh! just now Wil Wheaton declared that everyone needs to stop, for it is Hammer Time, but was shut down when Warren Ellis declared that it is NEVER Hammer Time. Ouch.
And thus ends this installment of "what are the nerds that I love up to on Twitter today?" I still don't understand Twitter, but I'm apparently addicted to it.
Without getting too into my feelings on the WGA strike, I'd like to say that you, the networks, could be handling the lack of writers much better than you are. You appear to be taking the "hold our breath and hope it all works out" tack, whereas you could be doing all sorts of pro-active things to keep viewers tuning in and shows in production.
I spent the morning thinking about it, and I've come up with the following list that I'm sharing in the hopes that one of you will listen to me. Any one of these things can fill a time-slot; a combination can fill your whole line-up. The problem is that without writers, you have nothing to produce, right? That's where you're wrong -- you have TONS of things to produce:
1) Spec scripts. Pretty much everyone who wants to break into writing television starts cranking out these free scripts for existing shows in the hopes that producers will like them and pay them to write more. There are undoubtedly thousands of these things of varying quality for nearly any show currently airing. One would only have to grab the stack and produce episodes that fans probably wouldn't even notice are of even lesser quality than the normal scripts. Hell, some of them might even be better.
2) Repurpose old scripts. Know how NBC advertised the hell out of the "Scrubs Musical," touting it as an "event" ? This same type of advertising could be used to promote, um, "different" episodes of currently running shows. For instance, take the script for a first-season episode of "The Dukes of Hazzard," run a find-and-replace on it, swapping out "Bo" with "Earl" and "Luke" with "Randy" and you've got a two-parter KICK-ASS "My Name is Earl" special event. I think that might actually be better than the real "My Name is Earl."
3) Fan fiction. There are BILLIONS of scripts out there written by fans of the show. You don't have to pay them because they were foolhardy enough to use your trademarks without asking permission first -- and are damn lucky you're not suing their asses off. Most of these are rubbish, but some of them are pretty good. They don't have to be GREAT, because half your viewers are already so busy complaining that your writing has gone downhill that they won't notice when it actually DOES.
4) Re-runs. The plan now is to air repeats of the current line-up of shows, right?. The thing is, people who watch those shows have already SEEN those episodes, why would they want to watch them again? I think you'd be better off running re-runs of older shows people have forgotten about. What are Balky and Cousin-Larry-Applay-ton up to? I HAVE NO IDEA, I better tune in! Bonus points for running shows youngins today have heard OF but not seen; run "Twin Peaks" in prime time and I can guarantee you ratings.
5) Un-aired canceled eps. Remember all those shows you canceled at mid-season last year? The ones that still had produced episodes yet to air? Show those. All those shows had people who liked them who would love the chance to see a few more episodes now that it's gone forever. Who knows, maybe the ratings will be good and you can bring them back, "Family Guy"-style. Lord knows THAT show is terrible and people have been watching it for years post-cancellation.
6) Pilots. Every network makes dozens of pilots for potential new series, only a small fraction of which ever get picked up -- let alone aired. I say advertise a block of time-slots giving viewers the opportunity to see shows they wouldn't otherwise get to. Why show episodes you're pretty sure everyone has already seen when you can show episodes NO ONE has ever seen, and will never be able to see again. I'd tune in for that, hells yes. As a bonus, you already PAID for them, so it's essentially free money.
7) CELEBRITY DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS. Know all those boring shows showing celebrities playing boring games like poker? People WATCH those. Know those terrible "funny" shows about fake nerds? People WATCH those too. Now imagine if you took some REAL nerds, who are actually FUNNY, and make them play an exciting game like Dungeons & Dragons, and you have an instant hit on your hands. Call Wil Wheaton to make this happen, as he's tried to get this off the ground before, but you losers weren't interested. Also call Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn.
There you have it: practical functional ideas that require no writers. Implementing any one of these will keep people working, and keep people viewing -- while keeping my complaining down to a minimum.
I want to have things to watch. You want me to watch them.