Sick of squinting at the computer? Given up on books? Lost faith in humankind because of reality TV? Fear not — your favorite shows are coming back, some as soon as this spring.
The Writers Guild of America is set to vote on the terms of an agreement with the major Hollywood studios and producers tomorrow, marking the end of their nearly three-month-long strike. But industry insiders said it's all a formality. Come Wednesday, they'll be scribbling, tapping, and scripting away.
"Everyone's going back to work — TV networks are looking at their schedules, seeing how soon can they get shows back on, seeing if they'll bring back shows in the summer," said Ben Grossman, Los Angeles bureau chief for Broadcasting & Cable. "Now that they know that writers can officially begin writing again on Wednesday, they can finally put their flag in the ground and begin figuring things out."
Most importantly, they will figure out when and if new episodes of some of TV's most beloved shows will return. Here's what to expect:
First, as early as Wednesday: late night talk shows that didn't strike a side deal with their writers.
Second, potentially by April: half-hour sitcoms including "The Office" and "How I Met Your Mother."
Third, possibly by late spring: hit series with a huge following, a la "Gossip Girl."
Fourth, in hibernation until next fall or winter: dramas including "Heroes" and "24."
And then there are the shows that may not ever see the glow of the screen again because of the strike: freshman series including "Chuck" and "Pushing Daises" and the critically acclaimed but ratings-sagging "Friday Night Lights."
Below, ABCNEWS.com's guide to what's coming back when — and what may not survive the strike at all.
Upper East Siders, rejoice: "Gossip Girl" could be back as early as this spring. "The show is probably the CW's top priority," NPR TV critic David Bianculli said of the freshman drama about New York City prep school partiers. "Whatever they can get back on, they will, because they do not want to lose the young viewers who really enjoy that show." According to Georg Szalai, New York bureau chief for The Hollywood Reporter, it's in the CW's interest to satisfy fans' rabid demand for more Blair/Serena drama. "We might see some new episodes as early as this spring," he said. "It could be either before May or even June/July. It would be unusual, but it could happen."
It'll be almost a year before a new day dawns for "24." "You'll definitely not see it until next year," Szalai said. "That show traditionally comes back early in the year and it's a show that requires 24 episodes at the get-go. They won't bring it back over the summer. They'll want to run it as one big block of content next January." Plus, with Fox leading the ratings race with "American Idol," there's no reason for them to rush to get Jack Bauer up and running in '08.
"Lost" fans found new episodes of the hit ABC drama two weeks ago, but it's unclear whether they'll stumble on more when the shortened season wraps up after its eight-week run. "If they get into production now, they can probably get in a few more episodes before the season ends in May," Szalai said. But even if that happens, "Lost" may struggle to regain time lost in the remainder of the series' life. "We don't know if they're going to do the whole 48 episodes or just condense everything into a smaller number of episodes," Bianculli said.