NEW YORK — The writers strike is in its fourth week, with chilly prospects for viewing ahead.
During December, the schedule will be dominated by holiday specials and series repeats (not unlike any other year).
But come January, a prolonged strike could be all too obvious to viewers, with continuing episodic reruns interspersed with new reality shows.
Even so, a few scripted dramas and comedies are warming up the schedule:
A FEW TO GO:
_ Fox airs a fresh "House" Tuesday. After that, only three more new episodes remain, slotted for January _ one of them following Fox's Super Bowl broadcast.
_ ABC's new hit comedy "Samantha Who?" has six more episodes in the can.
_ Fox's "Family Guy" has scheduled a normal mix of new and repeat episodes at least through January.
_ The "Crime Scene Investigation" trio, "NCIS," "Criminal Minds," "Without a Trace" and "Cold Case" are down to four or fewer new episodes apiece on CBS.
END IN SIGHT:
_ ABC's "Ugly Betty," "Pushing Daisies" and "Grey's Anatomy" each have two new episodes to go.
_ ABC's "Desperate Housewives" airs the last of its current stock of new episodes Sunday.
_ The final new episode of NBC's "Heroes" airs Dec. 3.
_ Fox's "K-Ville" has two new episodes left, with dim prospects for production to resume on this low-rated freshman drama.
STUCK IN REPEATS:
_ NBC's "The Office" is closed for business until the strike's end, with only reruns on deck.
_ CBS' new hit sitcom "Big Bang Theory" has similarly run dry, along with "How I Met Your Mother," "Two And a Half Men" and "Rules of Engagement."
WHO KNOWS WHEN?:
_ The planned January return of Fox's "24" has been postponed indefinitely. Since only some of the series' 24 episodes have been shot, Fox didn't want to risk beginning a new season that might be interrupted.
_ Fox's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" will have a two-night premiere Jan. 13-14. This new drama, a reinvention of the "Terminator" film franchise, arrives with 13 episodes completed.
_ Also in January, NBC's "Medium" will return with nine episodes in the can.
_ "The New Adventures of Old Christine" will be back with at least eight episodes of this CBS sitcom, and the apocalyptic drama "Jericho" returns with seven episodes.
_ "Cashmere Mafia," ABC's new comedy-drama starring Lucy Liu, will arrive with seven episodes completed.