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Friday, September 29, 2023


Couch Potato: Better days ahead for TV enthusiasts

The past three months have been no picnic. Screenwriters for television and film halted their craft and banded together to become a commanding force to be reckoned with. For three months we have kicked and screamed, undermining the writers’ noble intentions, but they stuck to their principles when there was little else. With a little patience in this world of vast impatience, our heroes have proven they are victorious and the pen is mightier than the greedy, sword-wielding producers and monster production firms.

By the time your eyes read this sentence, it is said the arduous, bitter strike will be largely settled. It is important to remember this is not just a victory for couch potatoes everywhere – this is a victory for labor. Keep in mind what was at stake here. It wasn’t only a fight over proper compensation for intellectual property rendered in exciting new media; it was about a group of people standing up for what is right and damning the consequences. They put their lives on hold, abandoning their livelihood, to prove a point – one that, it is hoped, was heard loud and clear.

"Much has been achieved," said guild leaders Michael Winship and Patric Verrone (heads of the Writers Guild of America, West) in an e-mail to guild members. "And while this agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve for the countless hours of hard work and sacrifice, our strike has been a success."

This new deal of sorts includes giving unions proper authority over material produced for the Web, sets a standard compensation for reputable video streamed from the Web and brings the residual rate for downloaded materials more up to par, The New York Times reported.

Captain pilot cleared for takeoff

Television pilots come and go. During and just before the strike, TV viewers got more than they’re used to, though several of them admittedly originated from the very bottom of the proverbial barrel.

Shows were being canceled or postponed left and right, so something was needed to fill their timeslots. Reality programs were applied to the schedule like band-aids in many cases, but more innovative methods of healing were used occasionally.

With so many sudden openings, networks decided to dig through File 13 in search of overlooked gems. Some of the refuse made it to the air, but, as they say, one man’s trash is another man’s Monday night lineup.

While it is important to not judge a program by its pilot, the one for CBS’ new so-called comedy Welcome to The Captain invites a good ruling. Following the shenanigans of the tight-knit tenants of the namesake historic Hollywood apartment building, Captain either walks the plank or completely redefines subtle humor. It’s somehow kooky but not all-out wacky. In the opening scene, self-proclaimed blabbermouth and daytime attendant Jesus (Al Madrigal) is debating the integrity of bottled water with resident and veteran scene thief Uncle Saul (Jeffrey Tambor).

Though these two are the heartbeat of the show, on paper, our protagonist is actually a new tenant and screenwriter named Josh (Fran Kranz) who isn’t exactly a strong, intriguing lead all on his own. To round him out, we get, among others, his friend Marty (Chris Klein like we’ve never seen him before), who does Wilmer Valderama’s taxes, new love interest Hope (Joanna Garcia), who does acupuncture, and resident cougar Charlene (Raquel Welsh), who does Josh by the show’s end.

The best part is, with the resolution of the strike, the script will be allowed to evolve at the side-splitting discretion of Tambor and Madrigal, who are aching to play off one another. The strict adherence to the script may have initially hampered the program, so we’re just going to have to wait and see where this goes. Perhaps mundane on the surface, inexplicability and random hilarity lie just beneath it. It’s still too early to call.

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