THE MORNING AFTER: The TV industry has been struggling back to its feet like survivors of a cave-in since they went back to work almost a week ago, and updates on the status of shows driven off the air by a lack of scripts have been coming fast and furious. First of all, there are the casualties – shows that didn’t weather the 100-day strike, such as Girlfriends and Kid Nation, likely to be joined by the ill-starred
Cavemen. Dark clouds are circling Jericho again, it seems, after the underwhelming return of the back-from-the-dead CBS show, and rumours that Prison Break might not return to escape again.
The fate of Friday Night Lights, as ever, remains in doubt, with NBC mulling over a 2-hour TV movie finale, while E! Online reported rumours that “a few other networks” are considering taking the show over. This thing is harder to kill than Rasputin.
Then there are the shows given votes of confidence by their beleaguered networks, who are going to need every minute of programming they’ve got for next fall, after the strike gutted pilot production for the next
season. CBS has renewed only one new show, The Big Bang Theory, and ordered new season for Cold Case, Criminal Minds, all three CSI franchises, Ghost Whisperer, NCIS, Numb3rs, Two and a Half Men and
Without a Trace. NBC has called ER back for its 15^th season, as well as Heroes, Chuck and Life, while ABC announced last week that Desperate Housewives, Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Brothers & Sisters,
Ugly Betty, Samantha Who?, Dirty Sexy Money and Pushing Daisies will return, making fall of 2008 look like déjà vu all over again.
Hints of new shows have also begun to surface, such as Mark Burnett’s announcement that he’s producing the U.S. iteration of the business reality franchise known as Dragon’s Den in Canada, the U.K., and in
Japan, where the show was conceived. To be-titled Shark Tank when it debuts on an as-yet-unnamed U.S. network, Burnett says that he’s not concerned that it won’t have room in a market alongside business reality
shows such as his own Celebrity Apprentice, or ABC’s American Inventor.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but they got it wrong, and I think we have the recipe to get it right," Burnett told Variety. "That show focused on things and products. We're focusing on people and
dreams. That will have much more impact."
Variety also ran a story on the latest from the team that brought us Will And Grace – a sitcom about two friends and business partners, one straight, one gay, and based on its creators, David Kohan and Max
Mutchnick. Written on spec before the writers’ strike, it was taken by Warner Bros. TV to ABC when the strike ended, and “is not related to Kohan and Mutchnick's comedy pilot last year at CBS; that show also
revolved around the friendship and working partnership between a straight man and his gay best friend.” It’s good to see that a creative rut can still pay off these days.