Let me preface this by saying that I supported the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America Strike. Without its writers, a television show doesn’t exist. It’s that simple. However, that doesn’t mean that the Writers’ Strike didn’t take many precious hours away from me.
Through the years, I’ve had many television obsessions, but when it comes to pure quality and the question of the best show ever made, there are two particular names that pop into my head: Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad. I love them both, and I think both did downright remarkable things with storytelling in television. And considering both shows only gave me five seasons, I cherish each and every moment, so you can imagine how I felt when the Writers’ Strike caused both shows to cut a season short.
For Breaking Bad, it was season 1. Cutting it two episodes short, we were left with the image of Walt and Jesse standing in a junkyard after having gotten into business with madman Tuco. There was no real sense of closure; there wasn’t even one of those gasping-for-air cliffhangers that only Breaking Bad can do. And for good reason: That wasn’t supposed to be the finale. The writers had planned their season’s arc, and then we just didn’t get to see it. And it physically hurt me.
But what hurt me even more than Breaking Bad was the way Friday Night Lights‘ second season was interrupted. What was forced to serve as the season 2 finale was really just a fun episode in which Tami’s ex (played by showrunner Peter Berg) came into town, and we got to see the jealous side of Coach Taylor. Riggins was smack in the middle of his going-to-church-to-see-Lyla story line, and Smash was surrounded by scholarship mania. Oh, and did I forget to mention how the episode ended? Hey Jason, remember that one-night-stand? Well, she’s pregnant! And fade to black.
In the history of television, have there ever been so many things left up in the air? And when season 3 picked up, we got caught up with an extended “Previously On,” where we saw that apparently Smash blew out his knee and lost all chances at any sort of college scholarship, and the Dillon Panthers “imploded” during last season’s playoff race. Come again? This was honestly the most intense whiplash I’ve ever felt in my life (and I have felt actual whiplash, which hurts). Also, what the heck happened to Santiago?! Thanks to the strike, we will never know what became of the puppy-eyed teenager Buddy took in.
So here’s my proposition: Despite both series being over (or very close to over), I want those episodes! Ideally, I would like them filmed and added to my “Complete Series” DVD order, but I will take even the opportunity to see the script or the storyboard or hear the showrunner talk about them or something. Much like I don’t like having gaps in my real life, I can’t have these gaps in my favorite shows, especially when something huge happens and I have to hear about it from some stupid recap video. I’m invested in these characters and their story arcs, and to miss a huge piece of something that I was originally supposed to see just isn’t right. And that’s not even mentioning the quality of these shows. To miss out on episodes of such darn good television feels like being robbed (particularly when you consider how short these series runs were in the grand scheme of things).
I can’t let this go. So long as these stories are unfinished, I will not be able to rest. Does anyone else feel this way? Which of your shows did the Writers’ Strike affect the most? And how do we get those episodes made?!