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WGA Strike: Day 37: A Survival Guide for Viewers

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So most of the shows are either about to run out or have run out of new episodes (raise your hand if you're sad that there wasn't an Office Christmas show this year!) What will you do instead? I could suggest that you knit quilts for poor children, invent a plausible substitute for gasoline, start that novel you've been thinking about. But you're not going to do that. You're going to watch tv. So let's talk about what you can do to not get caught up in the increasingly noxious diet of reruns and reality tv.

I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel here. But you might as well use your tv watching time to catch up on stuff you've been missing. Let's start with a few designer perfume imitators. (You know -- if you like Chanel #5, you'll love Spritz, or whatever.) If you like the Office, rent the British version (and while you're at it, Coupling as well.) Though you should really watch the former with the subtitles on. If you like the Simpsons, rent Home Movies (and if you don't like the squiggle-vision, skip a couple of seasons.) If you like fast talking, cool dialogue things like His Girl Friday, then rent the Gilmore Girls. I know, it's about girls, but it's good, and even smart boys like it. Think Moonlight kinda sucks? Try Angel. It's a lot better. If you like Buffy, rent Firefly. If you like Star Trek, rent Firefly. If you like Westerns, rent Firefly. Just rent Firefly already!

I'm making a list of shows that had really great first seasons, with the second season being, you know, not so great. So far, I've got Lost, Dexter, Heroes (seriously, it gets SO much better after the first four episodes), Roswell (no, really!) and Veronica Mars. Oh Veronica Mars! Even though the first season was the best, the other two seasons were still really good. There are shows I watch this season, and I think, "How is this on the air when Veronica Mars isn't?"

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Then there are some shows that only got one great season. If you haven't already, it's time to give in, and watch Freaks and Geeks and My So-Called Life (which just came out with a new boxed set with lots of extra goodies!)

Sadly, there's little recourse for those of us yearning for Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and even Conan O'Brien, except to read their books over, cry softly and make voodoo dolls of all the studio heads.

You could use this time to catch up on the classics. What? You don't like black and white? Let me call you a waaambulance. Get a glass of wine and sit down with some beginner stuff, like Arsenic and Old Lace, or North by Northwest (which is in color). Maybe it's time for you to move on to some intermediate fair like People Will Talk (a film which would never be made now, not only because of its rambley structure, but also because the name of Dr. Noah Praetorius never would have made it passed the studio execs), Harvey or Rebel Without a Cause. Perhaps you're even ready to take on some dense classics like Giant or Citizen Cane.

It was while these films were being made that they were creating the visual and storytelling vernacular that could give you a whole different spin on our culture at large. Or whatever.

I, myself, have a lot to catch up, starting with Battlestar Galactica. Then I'm going to take in early episodes of the Sopranos (I was late coming to that party!) Afterwards, I'll move on to The Wire and older episodes of Weeds. I'm also trying to find time to watch those French films from the nineties, Red, White and Blue.

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We're all in this together, so post stuff you love in the comments! Somehow, we'll get through these hard times.

Photo by aboutmattlaw, via flickr.