Dispatches From the Couch: Gone, But (Hopefully) Not Forgotten

At least a few execs over at ABC are probably hoping that once they finally are able to get shows back into production, audiences will be watching — and not asking — SAMANTHA WHO?

What if fans who had just begun to fall for the romantic comedy have, like the lead character, developed a case of amnesia, forgetting over the past few months that it even exists?

What if DIRTY SEXY MONEY’s prolonged absence sent those who’d begun to get into the primetime soap’s groove feeling shopping elsewhere for entertainment?

It’s long been said that the daytime soaps — which have been in a downward spiral for years — lost their momentum after being bumped for endless weeks by coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial. Eventually, viewers who’d spent years making daily visits to places like Pine Valley and Genoa City found other ways in which to spend their time.

That’s exactly the situation currently facing execs as the writers strike finally seems to be wrapping up. Established shows such as UGLY BETTY or LAW & ORDER will have less trouble luring viewers back, seeing as the channel surfers already have had time to develop loyalty to the characters and storylines.

But will shows like SAMANTHA WHO?, which was one of the biggest hits of the fall season before the strike left the brain-addled beauty with no more scripts to memorize, be able to regain their momentum? And how will what remains of this season play out, given the odd situation developing in which new scripted fare — which will no doubt be rushed onto the screen as fast as possible — finds itself competing with offerings such as BIG BROTHER, which is usually reserved for the summer (read: rerun) season? Can BIONIC WOMAN come back better, stronger, faster and, more importantly, with better ratings? Will PUSHING DAISIES wind up six feet under, while LIFE receives a premature death sentence?

If the networks find themselves struggling to lure viewers back, I’d like to offer up a reminder that they brought this situation upon themselves. By attempting to have their cake (“Let’s create new shows for the internet and stream all our existing ones there as well!”) and eat it too (“Sure, we’re only doing this in the hope of making more money, but you can bet your ass we’re not paying the writers a dime more!”), the execs created a scenario that could really only end as it did. There was never any doubt that the writers would, in the end, prevail.

Here’s hoping that the fall’s most promising shows didn’t fall prey to the winter of the writers’ understandable discontent.

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  • SimplyKimberly

    Samantha Who? was a show that I started watching during the strike and it now has a Season Pass. I won’t forget it. Christina Applegate and Jean Smart make this show incredibly warm and funny. They are perfectly matched as mother and daughter. I cannot believe how far Kelly Bundy has come.

  • Here’s my 2 cents: the networks will have to reair the eps with “promos” and “ads” to remind viewers of what they “loved.” Perhaps the tv season shouldn’t be so “boxed” in from Sept.to May. What about an early fall 08? Daytime never recovered and continues to slide into “budget cut hell.” Will prime time follow?

  • ewanspotter

    I’m pretty sure Bionic Woman is DOA.

  • shanna

    Bionic Woman is hopefully dead as well as some other duds (Cavemen I’m looking at you).

    I think the ones that drew us will continue to draw us. I think what the strike proved is that we will go to good scripted television and we will rally behind it.