With Hollywood's warring writers and producers seemingly spending more time on PR statements than negotiations, it's going to be a long, wretched winter for television fans. To patch scheduling holes, networks are rushing out "mid-season replacements" (everything from game shows to reality hours) — essentially, shows that are handy in a pinch, but weren't good enough to debut in the fall. It's the idea that if there's no water at the oasis, we'll just drink the sand; too bad for them we're not so easily satisfied. However, we ARE easily bored without our stories, so if our holiday wish for a speedy, fair strike resolution is impossible, then it'll take some crafty TV-diet substitutions to get us through the drought.
Here are a few simple swaps:
American Gladiators. The show that brought us such spandex-wrapped warriors as "Turbo" and "Zap" obviously occupies its own vital place in TV history. But it also ably replaces the absent 24. Think about it: Jack Bauer runs a lot. He sweats. He does things to America, for America. And he likes to hit people with blunt objects. If he'd had the wherewithal to do it all with a Speedo and a tennis-ball cannon, you'd never even know the difference.
Crowned. It's possible that this mother-daughter pageant reality show will fill the gay/bitchy/campy hole left by Ugly Betty. At the very least, we'll get our required dose of parent-child tension, outrageous and misguided outfits, and a few "queen" jokes from Carson Kressley. Maybe Vanessa L. Williams can be talked into a guest appearance. Who better than a dramatically deposed Miss America to give those bitches some advice?
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The blurry line between man and machine, a British star suppressing her natural accent sound familiar? Granted, nobody is going to miss the high-tech protagonist on Bionic Woman, but if there is a lone fan out there hankering for a sci-fi show with robotic acting, switching to one with ACTUAL robots seems a fair exchange.
Cashmere Mafia/Lipstick Jungle. Without Desperate Housewives, we're forced to go elsewhere for our fill of lady-driven ensembles featuring actresses we remember (and like better) from other projects. Voilà: These boast Lucy Liu (Charlie's Angels), Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings: Etc., Etc.), and Brooke Shields (pretty much anything but Suddenly Susan), among others. Now if only we could remember which show is which.
Celebrity Apprentice. Missing Reaper? Longing for another show about working for the Devil, in the form of a carefully coiffed man you know you shouldn't find amusing, but secretly do? Then welcome back Donald Trump's old warhorse The Apprentice, the original and still the best cautionary tale about selling your soul, now with a slate of "famous" minions. We always knew Omarosa served a larger evil.
Farmer Wants a Wife. Well, Farmer might not have Patrick Dempsey's good hair, but this contest promises to be at least as obsessed with relationships as Grey's Anatomy is. See, the new CW reality series is The Bachelor reborn. Female contestants are plucked from America's major cities and vie for the prize of a hot farmer's hand in marriage. Yes, they took Green Acres and made it more offensive. And you didn't think it was possible. But Grey's fans, take note: Farmer has to get the harvest in; McDreamy's gang sometimes harvests organs. They're practically the same show!
Eight Days a Week. When we're sobbing into our collectible cookie jars over the lack of 30 Rock and The Office, we'll be forced to turn to this sitcom, the latest comedy about how funny it is when your boss is a nightmare. And then we'll turn away from it and read a book instead. No one can replace Jack Donaghy, not even Mario Lopez and that Anna Chlumsky chick from My Girl. —The Fug Girls