Murphy’s Law – TV and the economy

Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

It’s a bit of an understatement to say our economy isn’t doing so well these days. People are getting laid off, the government is bailing out corporations left and right and many people in the lower and middle class are about one paycheck away from living on the street mumbling to themselves and collecting cans for the recycling money.

We’re all seeing how this current economic crisis is affecting our lives and the lives of those around us. But one important question has gone unanswered thus far – how will it affect our favorite TV shows? This week, I’m going to try to look into the future so that I can tell you how some of the most popular television shows out there will cope with this recession …

One show that will surely be hit the hardest is The Office. For years, Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch has been hemorrhaging money thanks to an unmotivated staff, an incompetent boss and an Assistant Regional Manager who spends all of his time flirting with the receptionist and pulling pranks on one of his coworkers. It’s only a matter of time before Dunder Mifflin’s corporate office decides to cut their losses and sells the failing branch to their rival, Primatech Paper. Look for Primatech to send in its efficiency consultant Noah Bennet to shape up the branch and get things back on track (you know … when he’s not busy capturing bad guys and saving the world).

Speaking of Heroes, you can expect to see some major changes coming to that show as well. Earlier this month, NBC fired producers Jeph Loeb and Jesse Alexander. The next logical step will be to scale back the wardrobe department, which means that Peter finally gets his wish and will officially be shirtless in every scene. Also, due to the rising cost of healthcare, the writers of the show will make every single character a Petrelli so that they can put them all on the same family health plan.

Another NBC show that will be hit hard by the current economic crisis is Chuck. Circuit City recently filed for bankruptcy protection due to stiff competition from Best Buy and Wal-Mart. It won’t be long before the Buy More is also forced out of business. Morgan and the rest of the crew will all have to go out and get real jobs while Chuck and Casey will be forced to go work next door at the Orange Orange, a move which Chuck’s sister Ellie will see as another disappointing step backwards in Chuck’s career.

Since the presidential election is now over, Saturday Night Live will go back to being irrelevant. While the show won’t be canceled by NBC due to its storied history with the network, I do expect that the Peacock will slash the budget of the show. Budget cutbacks will most likely make it too expensive to bring in a live studio audience to watch each show, so expect SNL to bring back Jimmy Fallon to sit in the stands and laugh through every sketch.

Over on 30 Rock, all of the stunt casting the show has been doing lately has surely caused their budget to take a big hit. Instead of Oprah, Steve Martin and Jennifer Anniston, you can expect to see all of the future guest roles played by Baldwin brothers, since they work for scale.

Over on Fox, one of the first shows to take a hit will be House. Dr. House’s policy of only taking on one patient at a time simply isn’t cost effective. House and his team will no longer be able to afford to run fancy blood tests and expensive MRIs and will instead be forced to solve cases Civil War-style, using leeches and sawing off limbs. Then, House really will be “risking a patient’s life!” each and every week.

This Sunday, Fox will be airing 24: Redemption, a new made-for-TV movie that will bridge the gap between season six and season seven of the hit show. While Redemption takes place in Africa, look for Jack Bauer to spend season seven in China, since that’s where all of the high-tech gadgets he uses are made anyway and it’s cheaper to buy them off the street there then to have them shipped over to America. No word on whether or not Bauer will grow back his crazy prison beard while in China.

Kiefer Sutherland’s former castmate Dennis Haysbert will also be negatively affected by this recession. While some claim that Haysbert’s fantastic portrayal of President David Palmer helped pave the way for Barack Obama’s election, Obama will be looking for ways to reduce military spending once he takes office and Haysbert’s top secret military unit may be one of the first to go. If The Unit is eliminated, look for Haysbert to begin selling Allstate insurance full-time.

Since they already ripped off the idea from the USA Network show in the first place, in order to cut costs, CBS’s new show The Mentalist will fire all of their writers and openly steal scripts from Psych. Look for Reginald VelJohnson to be added to the cast to play the Burton Guster sidekick role.

Since it’s on basic cable and not a network, FX’s Sons of Anarchy may be hit the hardest of any show out there. In an effort to encourage viewers to go green and reduce their carbon footprints, the members of SAMCRO will sell off their motorcycles and begin car-pooling in a Prius. Although viewers may find this to be a stretch, FX believes this is a responsible alternative for the motorcycle club.

Speaking of cable, HBO’s Entourage is one of the few shows that may actually help struggling actors to make a living during these tough economic times. Recently, the show had Meadow Soprano (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) play Turtle’s love interest. As a favor to HBO, Entourage will continue to provide cameos to all of those affected when HBO senselessly killed The Sopranos, The Wire and Deadwood. In the next few weeks, you can expect to see Ari Gold hook up with Snoop Pearson, Johnny Drama dating Jewel from Deadwood and Lloyd sharing a dance floor with Vito Spatafore.

On Showtime, I expect that in order to save money, next season Californication will have more of a reality show feel to it as the show will be filmed on location at David Duchovny’s sex rehab.

In fact, the only show that won’t be affected by the economy is Dexter. The producers of the show have been able to keep production costs down by simply having Dexter kill off the castmembers with the biggest contracts.

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at

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