A Hollywood conversation that has dominated much of this decade—regarding the sorry state of affairs for sitcom writers being edged out by more popular and cheaper-to-produce reality programming—continues with an LAT piece that revisits the familiar topic in light of NBC's recent towel-tossing concession of their 8 p.m. timeslot to an almost entirely briefcases-and-yelling-based programming schedule. The debate still falls mainly into two categories: the steadfastly optimistic camp that insists we are just in the midst of an extended audience taste cycle, and the somewhat more pragmatic, "OK, we're pretty much fucked" school of thought:
"I think writers have a lot of reason to be anxious," [Dean Valentine, a former head of Disney's television unit and president of UPN] added. "The world they've been living and writing in no longer exists. The generic sitcom that has been a staple of TV for 30 to 40 years is not coming back."
But David Goodman, executive producer of Fox's hit series "Family Guy," said audiences had not tired of sitcoms, only weak shows.
"I don't want to insult my colleagues, but the reason people didn't watch 'Joey' wasn't because they didn't want to watch comedy," Goodman said, referring to the short-lived "Friends" spinoff.
Point taken, though we're not entirely sure if having Joey pause every few seconds for a, "This reminds me of the time..." non-sequitur flashback sequence to former, Friends-era hilarity would have been the solution to that series' creative shortcomings. And while the prognosis isn't much better over at Fox, where the ancient custom of sitcom breeding is still practiced despite most of the hatchlings arriving stillborn, we'd discourage out-of-work TV comedy writers to indulge the impulse to panic until they receive a surefire sign that they've exhausted every avenue of employment; i.e. CartoonNetwork.com suddenly stops returning their calls to set up a pitch for their Flash animation web series starring the Osmond grandkids as an extended family of multitalented starfish making their way in a subaquatic, all-marine-life Hollywood.