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Networks have shows ready, just not the ones you want

January 17, 2008|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Despite the Hollywood writers strike, the big TV networks have more than 100 episodes of scripted series ready to roll out over the next few months.

The bad news for viewers: Few are fan favorites.

"Desperate Housewives" is done, the dust barely settled from a tornado that hit Wisteria Lane. "Grey's Anatomy" has no more episodes left, as does Thursday competitor "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." No more laughs are coming from "Two and a Half Men," "30 Rock" and "The Office." "Heroes" is also done.

Several other shows are down to a precious few, the networks carefully rationing new material like a hiker lost in the desert with a half-empty canteen. One of the three remaining "House" episodes, for example, is set aside for maximum effect right after the Super Bowl.

To this point, the two-month strike has had little effect on prime-time television, unless you were really looking forward to the Golden Globes. Most networks already had their lineups set for November, and December is dominated by reruns and holiday shows anyway.

"It's been pretty much business as usual," said Brad Adgate, a research analyst at Horizon Media Inc.

The true test will come in February, a ratings "sweeps" month for which networks have always set aside original episodes of their most popular series, he said.

So far this season, the four networks are down 5% in viewers from the previous year, according to Nielsen Media Research. That's about the same rate of decline as last year.

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