Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Cable TV

Have you ever noticed how local and cable programming have gone down hill since the Eighties? I can remember back in the Eighties, the local stations would show movies on Saturdays and Sundays when there are no sporting events. I got to see El Cid, The Vikings, and a ton of old movies that way. Now every Saturday is filled with either sports or infomercials. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against sports. I've enjoyed a few NFL and college basketball games in my time. But every single weekend?! As to infomercials, does anyone actually watch them?

And then there are the local stations' daily schedules. Talk shows. Talk shows. Talk shows. And when they do show reruns, it is usually some recent show. Don't get me wrong, I like The Drew Carey Show, Seinfeld, and Everybody Loves Raymond, but must they be on every single station? Fortunately, one of our local stations is now actually showing The Andy Griffith Show, I Love Lucy, and Cheers. Still, I would like to see a lot more variety on the local stations. A few more older comedies and movies on the weekends.

And then there is cable. I think basic cable has gone downhill even more. Back in the Eighties, TBS showed a lot of old sitcoms--The Andy Griffith Show, Sanford and Son. And they showed some old action series too--The Wild Wild West and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.. They showed a number of old movies, a lot of John Wayne and stuff like The Great Escape. The Family Channel's Saturday line up was nothing but old Western TV shows--The Rifleman, Bonanza. Late night weekdays they showed classic comedies like Dobie Gillis, The Burns and Allen Show, and The Jack Benny Show. USA had Night Flight. Now TBS shows pretty much the same thing as the local channels. The Family Channel has become the refuge of old ABC sitcoms. USA has some good original series and some of the better recent movies, but no Night Flight.

Worse yet, so many of the basic cable channels show the same shows. I don't know how many different channels show the various Law & Order series and The X Files. Don't get me wrong I love the Law & Order series and The X Files, but there are only so many times you can watch them. And I swear none of the basic channels show any movie made before 1990 (except, unfortunately, Cocktail and John Candy movies). I miss the old days when there was a greater variety of programming.

Of course, there are more channels on cable now. Unfortunately, most of these channels are not on basic cable, at least not on my cable system. Sci-Fi, TVLand, Turner Classic Movies, and many of the better cable channels are all on digital cable. And, unfortunately, digital cable now costs an arm and a leg. Essentially, to get better programming, one has to pay a lot more. It would be a lot easier if the basic channels would simply vary what they show. A few older movies. A few older shows. Try not to show what the other guys are showing.

Ah well, I guess I shouldn't complain too much After all, I do own a DVD player. And there are a lot of old shows and movies available on DVD now...

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