The WGA strike has put the kibosh on most US television and film production, the most recent casualty being today's abysmally boring Golden Globes awards ceremony. If we see the same disastrous treatment of the Academy Awards in February . . . well. It doesn't really bear thinking about.
While patiently waiting for some sort of resolution to the dispute, we poor viewers are stuck with increasingly repetitive reality TV shows, reruns or dipping into our old, dusty DVD collections.
A pleasant alternative, to which I'd like to draw your attention, is the growing abundance of straight-to-web content available.
I'm not talking about videos of cats flushing toilets on Youtube (although these certainly have their place). I'm talking about high-quality short film productions made exclusively for distribution on the web.
These should help to see you through these dark days. And ironically, this is precisely the sort of content at the core of the writers' dispute with the studios in the first place.
While web content like this is limited at the the moment, continually falling ratings for free-to-air TV and the fragmentation of advertising revenue streams (many of which are now moving online) mean that we can expect a lot more of this in the future. But for now, these are some of the shows leading the charge:
Produced by the team behind Stargate SG-1, this is a professional production with an intriguing plot and more extra features on the website than you can poke a snaggle-toothed CGI creature at.
Excellent anthology series along the lines of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, distributed as a video podcast.
Very high production values and some really great writing.
Star Trek: New Voyages
Fan production featuring the continuing voyages of the original series characters. Back in 1969 the series was sadly cancelled before the end of their 5-year mission, so this show continues the saga.
There are some dodgy stunts and wobbly sets, but no more than were in the real thing back in the day. The show also has the distinction of featuring well-known Star Trek scribe D.C. Fontana, as well as original series alums Walter Koenig and George Takei.
It's all in your hands
Video podcasting meets William Castle-style gimmickry.
These short films are broken up into episodes and at the end of each, viewers may vote on which way they want the story to go. Results vary, but a some of the stories, particularly "Satacracy 88" and "Find Me" are good fun.