What Joel is thankful for
Late night talk shows: All of 'em, from The Daily Show to The Colbert Report to Letterman and Leno to Conan and Craig. The writers strike has made it painfully obvious to me that the landscape of late night TV is pretty much a wasteland without these shows. Sure, I could watch the same Seinfeld and Scrubs reruns I've seen dozens of times, but those aren't nearly as entertaining as the fresh and topical material I see on the talk shows (even Leno's).
DVDs of old TV shows: A couple of years ago, my cable company decided to put GSN on a digital tier; because I didn't feel like paying an extra 15 bucks a month for one channel, I decided to give it up, meaning I couldn't get my daily Match Game fix. Luckily, some kind soul saw fit to put together a collection of 20 or so Match Game episodes and put them on DVD, complete with commentary from the recently-departed Brett Somers. It'll be more than enough to keep me satisfied for a while. Same goes with my DVDs for The Muppet Show, NewsRadio and others.
DVDs of current TV shows: A great perk of this job is the opportunity to get preview copies of DVD releases. As most people have come to realize, DVDs of current shows are a great way to catch up to a show you may not have caught the previous season. But they're also a good way just to have a copy of a show you did watch but wouldn't mind watching again. So, in my collection I have 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother, The Sarah Silverman Program, Extras, and Futurama: Bender's Big Score, among others. It sure as heck is a lot better than having the shows take up room on your DVR.
The opportunity to speak to fascinating, creative people: One of the things I've learned while in this job is that the writers and producers of a show are, in most cases, much more interesting to talk to than the actors in that show. It makes sense, since the producers and writers create the worlds that the actors inhabit, and write the words that come out of their mouths. Since last Thanksgiving, I've had terrific conversations with Bruce McCulloch, Rob McElhenney, Barry Sonnenfeld and Bryan Fuller, Carter Bays, Matt Groening, and Bill Lawrence. I also spent a few days tailing Monk's Andy Breckman and really got a good insight into a show's writing process. But that's not to say that the actors haven't given me some good nuggets; I still remember being charmed by John Stamos, frustrated by Sally Field and feeling welcome on the set of Scrubs. To me, getting the opportunity to speak to all of these people is my favorite part of the job, and I hope that my enthusiasm comes through in (most) of the interviews I've done; I think people who are real TV fans like hearing from the creative minds behind their favorite shows, and I hope to keep getting opportunities to bring those insights to you folks.
Online entertainment: YouTube, network web sites, Hulu, comedy sites like Funny or Die... All of them provide an easy way to catch up on moments I may have missed when they first aired or watch original content that don't make it to TV because of content, length, or whatever reason. The world of online video is only going to grow, which is the exact reason why the writers are on strike; they know the earning potential this medium holds and just want their fair share. Anyway, the longer the strike goes on, the more people are going to get their video kicks online, which can only mean that the content is going to get even better. I can't wait to see what comes next.