Will Vinnie, Ari and the rest of the boys be back soon? Hopefully, and potentially as soon as this spring/summer. "'Entourage' might be fine," Bianculli said. "A strike isn't going to affect HBO as much as it affects a broadcast network with a more set rhythm." But then again, Aquaman fans are at the mercy of the cable network and its sometimes erratic programming schedules. "We've waited eight vernal equinoxes for a new 'Sopranos,' Bianculli added. "I don't know how many episodes they've produced of this season."
Good news for Dunder Mifflin fans: Michael Scott will resume mismanaging his troops in Scranton soon enough. The half-hour comedy is one of the easiest types of shows to get up and running in a short amount of time. "'The Office' you'll see back before the spring season," Szalai said. "I would assume that NBC could bring it back sometime in April, and they'll still have April and May to run new episodes."
Fans of the high school football drama should brace themselves for a let-down. It was a surprise when NBC renewed the show for a second season last year, and it'll be a surprise if the network picks up the Emmy award-winning show, with a small but vocal fan base, again. "With 'FNL,' the question is whether NBC is going to be smart or stupid," Bianculli said. "They really may not make anymore. They may say this is enough." If NBC does renew, "FNL" will probably begin season three in September. "FNL is still finding an audience, it'll probably only come back in the fall," said Szalai. "The shows that you will see the networks bring back fastest are the ones that they won't need to promote heavily."
Fox's hugely popular, highly inappropriate family will probably be holed up until September. "Animated shows, once you've used up all the scripts you have, you're out for a while," Bianculli said. "They have a pipeline going normally but when you stop the pipeline and run dry, it's going to be six months until you see a new episode."
Like "Friday Night Lights," "30 Rock" is a critical darling, not a ratings powerhouse. But because it's a 30-minute sitcom with A-List stars like Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, it stands a good chance of making it through the writers strike alive. "It's one of those shows that's still developing a fan base," Szalai said. "It'll be interesting to see whether they decide to run more episodes this spring or just hold off on a potential return in the fall."
The surgeons of Seattle Grace will be back in their scrubs in no time. "'Grey's' is one of TV's biggest hits, it'll be back soon," Bianculli said. "I can't imagine a scenario in which ABC does not have 'Grey's' up in time for the May sweeps." Thank the legions of Dr. McDreamy fans for that. "It's similar to 'The Office,' an established show that viewers just can't get enough of," Szalai said. "It's a pretty safe bet for the network."
The comedy that comes before "Grey's" will probably share its fate. "It's a popular show that's not in any jeopardy about being renewed," Bianculli said. Expect more bashful Betty and wiley Wilhelmina this spring. "It'll probably take a little longer than some of the other comedies because of its more intricate production, but I would expect they'll probably bring it back by April and still run six to eight episodes," Szalai said.