Well, this is, potentially, a fine mess. If you're hopelessly devoted to television, anyway.
The Hollywood writers strike threatens some of our good viewing for the remainder of this year and a lot more of it after the new year begins.
Already, we're missing the comedic genius of Jon Stewart and his "Daily Show" writers. That show, talk shows like David Letterman's and sketch comedy "Saturday Night Live" are the first casualties because they depend on the daily news for their laughs.
And Fox announced Wednesday that -- barring a quick end to the strike -- "24" will not air at all this season because the show needs to be aired uninterrupted and the season's entire slate of episodes has not been completed.
Now that one really hurts.
Most other scripted shows won't be affected for a while, since most are written and taped in advance. But once the episode stockpile runs out -- and both sides of the battle say they're digging in for the long haul -- we'll be wallowing in reruns for who knows how long.
The Writers Guild of America wants studio and network executives to pony up a percentage of the profits made from DVDs and online streaming of TV content. The execs say online usage is in flux and they don't want to lock into an agreement just yet.
As a writer, I sympathize with the guild. It's their words making the money, no matter how much -- or how little -- it turns out to be.
All that long-haul talk so early on likely is negotiation grandstanding. Right now, anyway. But it could become a reality if neither side budges.
Both groups will lose a lot of money, so clearly their losses are more tangible than those of the average TV addict. But consumers feel the pain, too.
If the writers strike lasts several months -- the last strike, in 1988, lasted five -- we'll be looking at a mass of reruns and, worse yet, more reality programming. Reality writers aren't covered by the guild, so the worst television has to offer will go on and on.
Kind of like cockroaches after a nuclear blast.
We'll probably even get new reality shows. So instead of fresh episodes of favorite comedies and dramas, television viewers can look forward to fabulous fare like "Dancing With Next Pussycat Doll Who Wants to Marry a Farmer."
Reminder to self: Go to bookstore. Stock up.
The fall TV season is still young and folks just now are getting attached to some of the new fare and settling in with old favorites. I found a couple of new likable shows, despite an early bad attitude.
"Samantha Who?" turned out to be a keeper. Christina Applegate -- funny, funny, cute, cute -- stars as a businesswoman barracuda and all around lousy human being who's lost her memory after an accident and found her inner good soul. The writing is clever and there's a wealth of acting talent, with Applegate and Jean Smart leading the way.
I'd already declared myself a fan when I read Modesto-bred Timothy Olyphant will join the cast. How cool is that?
Gee, I hope he already taped his episodes.
Despite its silly title -- one that my son gives me shocked and disgusted looks over when it shows up on the TiVo list -- "Dirty Sexy Money" is a guilty pleasure. Blair Underwood being one of the stars was the big reason I was drawn in, but the rest of cast isn't made up of slouches, either: Peter Krause, Donald Sutherland, William Baldwin and Jill Clayburgh.
Plus, it's juicy good, with a story line about a ridiculously wealthy family, its lawyer, its nemesis and a mystery over the death of the lawyer's father. Pulpy? Yes. But tons of fun.
Scene editor Pat Clark can be reached at email@example.com.