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How Will Television Cope With the Writers Strike?

This photo is a metaphor.Photo courtesy of CBS, Fox, NBC, Getty Images, and our frequent recurring nightmares

With the seemingly inevitable writers strike set to cripple the film and TV industries on Thursday, Hollywood is bracing for the worst. Movie studios have been stockpiling screenplays for months, so if the WGA and AMPTP should fail to come to an agreement by Wednesday night's deadline, they'll be able to make Sandler comedies and Saw sequels well into next year. And the networks have already banked enough episodes for most scripted series (like Cavemen — yay!) to get them through the winter. But according to the Chicago Tribune, for topical TV shows and ones that rely on writers daily, a strike is of more immediate concern. How will they manage?

Late-Night Shows
Most nightly talk shows like Letterman, Conan, and The Daily Show will probably run repeats during the strike, though some might air longer interviews and cut scripted segments like sketches and monologues. Letterman and Leno will just reuse jokes written during Clinton's second term, which is fine by us, because let's face it — ten years on, blow jobs are still funny.

Soap Operas
Most soaps will run out of scripts after about a month. Plans are already in place to create new episodes of General Hospital and The Young and the Restless by editing together scenes from old shows intercut with stock footage of shark attacks and the moon landing. No one will notice.

Saturday Night Live
If Studio 60 taught us anything (and it probably didn't since we stopped watching ten minutes into the pilot), it's that SNL writers are typically still working right up until airtime — this week, though, the writing stops on Wednesday. Once the show's worked its way through a recently discovered stack of unused Goat Boy skits from 1997, all sketches will be improvised on the spot by the SNL players, meaning they'll all be nearly as bad as the ones that usually air at 12:40.

Mid-Season Shows
In an effort to baffle fans even more, J.J. Abrams is having dialogue from last season's episodes of Lost translated into Japanese and back to English, then shooting will proceed as planned. Producers of 24 are working on a deal with CBS to repurpose unshot scripts for Viva Laughlin; the upcoming seventh season of the Fox actioner will take place in a Nevada casino under possible terrorist threat. Jihadists will spontaneously burst into song as Jack Bauer tortures them.

How a Writers Strike Would Affect You [Chicago Tribune]