The writers’ strike is slowly destroying the television landscape as every scripted show begins to run out of episodes, leaving us with nothing but brainless reality filler. Not only is the strike negatively affecting the current TV season, but it’s highly unlikely it’ll be wrapped up in time for writers to create pilots for the fall 2008 season. This could leave us in the strange position of having no new content to watch this fall, as networks are forced to bring back underperforming shows that may have otherwise been canceled. While this may mean that some shows of dubious quality will be returning, it could be good news for fans of the CW’s shamefully overlooked Supernatural.
Let’s face it: the CW often treats Supernatural like the red-headed stepchild of all its programming. The network doesn’t seem to spend much energy attempting to recruit new viewers, they placed the show in the deadly time slot of Thursdays at 9pm against Grey’s Anatomy, and they recently announced that they wouldn’t bother airing reruns after new episodes run out. However, despite the network’s apparent lack of faith in the series, Supernatural has an extremely loyal and dedicated fanbase. The show has held on to its audience in the third season, despite the time slot change and the controversial new characters added to Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean’s (Jensen Ackles) world.
However, I truly don’t think the CW has it out for Supernatural. They may not throw a lot of money at it or advertise it particularly well, but I do believe they’re aware of the passionate fanbase and realize how important it is to keep those fans happy. They didn’t expect miracles when they moved the series to Thursdays at 9pm, and I have a feeling the show has at least been meeting their expectations.
The fact that Supernatural is a reliable player will look good when it comes time for the CW to plan its fall 2008 schedule, and it’ll look even better if they have no new pilots lined up. New shows such as Reaper and Gossip Girl have a lot of buzz but not much power in the ratings, and unless they want to fill their entire schedule with reality dreck, they have to bring Supernatural back for a fourth year. If they cancel it, they’ll likely have no new content to take its place.
Of course, reality television is always a danger. People might remember that the popularity of The Pussycat Dolls Present had a hand in canceling Veronica Mars last year, and it’s no secret that America’s Next Top Model is the highest rated series on the CW. If the network manages to produce a new reality show that actually takes off, it could spell trouble for low-rated shows like Supernatural and Reaper. Those shows are more expensive to produce than some series that throws a bunch of catty pageant contestants in a house together, and there’s no telling whether the CW would rather save money or hold on to viewer loyalty.
Despite that potential problem, my advice is simply to avoid the awful reality glut that the CW rolls out, and not to worry too much about the fate of the Winchester boys. At this point the writers’ strike is likely to thwart any new pilots from being made, and I’m betting the network will stick by Supernatural for at least one more season. If they don’t, well, let the fan campaigns begin.
– Don Williams, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of the CW)