Sunday, 15 January 2012
Me-TV started out as a programming block on Chicago station WFBT (now WWME-CA) during which the station aired such older shows as The Phil Silvers Show, The Jack Benny Programme, Maude, and others. It was on 1 January 2005 that WFBT became WWME-CA and started airing Me-TV full time, with the call letters WFBT being moved to another channel. On 1 March 2008 two more stations joined Me-TV. The new WFBT became WMEU-CA and adopted similar nostalgia oriented programming. as MeToo. On the same day Me-TV moved beyond the Chicago area into Milwaukee as the DT3 station of CBS affiliate WDJT also adopted the Me-TV format of nostalgia programming. It was on 22 November 2010 that parent company Weigel Broadcasting announced that they would take Me-TV nationwide. On 15 December 2010 Me-TV launched nationally. It was on 7 January 2011 that Wichita, Kansas station KTCU-LD became the first station not owned by Weigel Broadcasting to join Me-TV. Since then several stations have joined Me-TV, including what used to be our local weather channel (KMIZ-DT2). KMIZ-DT2 joined Me-TV on 8 January 2012.
Of course, Me-TV is not the only nostalgia network out there. Retro Television was launched in July 2005. Antenna TV was launched in January 2011. I am not entirely sure which of the three networks is doing the best, although from a cursory glance at lists of their affiliates it looks to me as if Me-TV has the most with Retro Television a close second. Antenna Television is not far behind Retro Television in its number of affiliates. Regardless, the fact that each network has around seventy to eighty affiliates would seem to indicate there is a demand for stations that show older shows.
As to Me-TV, I can understand why it has met with a good deal of success so far. The past week my television has been tuned to our local Me-TV affiliate at least once every weekday and many, many hours this weekend. In fact, I find that I have the opposite problem with Me-TV that I do with most networks and cable channels. On most networks and cable channels there is simply too little I want to watch (in fact, with some cable channels there is absolutely nothing I want to watch--a case in point is MTV). The problem with Me-TV is that there is simply too much on it that I want to watch. In fact, I suspect that if I recorded every single show I want to watch on Me-TV on my DVR, it would be filled in a matter of days.
The plain truth is that Me-TV is what TV Land should be. Even when TV Land was a nostalgia channel it lacked a good deal of variety. While the cable channel always aired a good number of sitcoms, it never very many hour long dramas beyond the Westerns Bonanza and Gunsmoke. It was perhaps weakest with regards to science fiction and fantasy shows. In its entire sixteen year history, TV Land had only aired about five science fiction/fantasy shows that were not comedies. This is quite a contrast to the current schedule of Me-TV, which has much more variety. Me-TV has its fair share of sitcoms (The Beverly Hillbillies, The Dick Van Dyke Show, That Girl, Get Smart, and so on), Westerns (Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, The Rifleman, and so on), action shows (The Unctouchables, Combat, 12 O'Clock High, The Fugitive, and so on), science fiction/fantasy shows (The Wild Wild West, Star Trek, Thriller, The Twilight Zone, and so on), mystery shows (Perry Mason, Peter Gunn, The Rockford Files, Columbo, and so on), and other genres. In fact, if Me-TV has only one weakness, it is in its children's programming. Edgemont is a Canadian show from the Naughts (think something similar to Degrassi High), while Green Screen Adventures and Mad About are both currently in production. Given Me-TV is a nostalgia channel, it would seem more fitting if it aired such classic cartoons as Underdog, Gumby, Jonny Quest, The Jetsons, and so on. That having been said, Edgemont, Green Screen Adventures, and Mad About are only on a few hours each weekend, so they are easy to overlook.
Beyond the fact that Me-TV is showing classic television shows, I must also applaud them for showing them as they originally aired. As far as I can tell they do not trim time from the shows for commercials and the commercials occur when they would have when the shows originally aired. What is more, Me-TV airs the credits of TV shows without a credit squeeze and without cuts. In fact, Me-TV even advertises this fact--"Credits where credits are due." For someone like me who enjoys listening to the closing theme songs of TV shows as well as being able to see the names of the guest stars and so on, this is truly a blessing. I hope other networks and cable channels follow suit!
I hope that Me-TV does prove to be a resounding success. I also hope that it does not stray from programming classic television shows in the years to come. Given my own tastes in television shows and my talks with various friends, it would seem that Me-TV definitely fills a niche that has been needed in television for a long time. For the silent majority who are tired of reality shows, Me-TV may be just what the doctor ordered.