Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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In a Perfect World: TV Channels That Need to Exist

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on November 19, 2007

What if you woke up tomorrow and everything was perfect?

You know the feeling. You’re sitting at home late on a Wednesday night, hoping to catch something worthwhile and time-killing on TV before you’re ready to go to bed. You’re confident about your chances. After all, you get more TV channels than you ever thought you’d have at your disposal. You get more TV channels than only a decade earlier you would’ve believed were even possible. Yet as you flip through your dozens, even hundreds of options, you gradually come to the horrific, inevitable conclusion: There is nothing on TV.

More and more in life, I’m beginning to believe that getting more channels on TV barely upgrades your potential for finding quality programming. Verily, it seems to me that the amount of channels one gets on TV is totally independent from your odds of actually catching something good. I don’t know if it has to do with one’s TV standards expanding or contracting to meet the amount of channels one gets, or if TV is just diabolically programmed to be eternally frustrating, but whether you get 20 channels or 2000, there’ll always be a time when there’s just nothing on.

Until tonight. For tonight, I will be unveiling my blueprints for eight new, 24/7 channels which will forever erase the need for aimless channel flipping. See, the main problem with TV isn’t that there aren’t enough choices, but that the choices available don’t remain consistent enough within their own line-ups. When you turn on a channel like, say, USA, you’re entering a total crap shoot–you could be getting a new-ish episode of Monk, re-runs of Walker, Texas Ranger a showing of Along Came Polly, or some weird alternative sports coverage. The odds of catching something decent are relatively good, but completely unreliable.

What TV needs, more than anything right now (well, anything besides writers), are channels tailored to very, very specific purposes. Channels that have clearly defined concepts, and never deviate from them. Channels, essentially, that can always be relied upon. The eight channels I propose here might not always be the most exciting or revelatory of TV programming, but the combination of them should be enough to ensure that no matter when you watch, there’ll always be something worth watching on at least one of them.

  • HBO TV: This one I’m pretty surprised doesn’t already exist. Despite being practically unrivalled for brilliant, cutting edge original TV programming, 75% of HBO is still a crappy movie channel, a channel where you’re about five times more likely to catch another airing of The Island than a re-run of a classic Wire or even a decent Sex & the City episode. HBO TV cuts out all the cinematic pretensions to focus on re-running of the channel’s original material, from classic shows like Six Feet Under and The Sopranos to early groundbreakers like 1st & Ten and The Larry Sanders Show and even recent misfires like The Comeback and John From Cincinatti.
  • CCN (Classic Cartoon Network): This is partly inspired by a conversation I had recently with a classmate about how there’s nowhere to catch The Pink Panther (show, not movie) on TV these days, and how that’s probably a shame of some sort. A little less focused than some of my other proposed channels, this’d be closer to what Cartoon Network was like in its embryonic days, before becoming overrun with original programs–mostly filled with classics from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies eras, but filled in with enough (usually dated) miscellany to keep things fresh. And not a single Billy and Mandy episode to gum up the works.
  • All-SNL. Once again, sort of shocking this doesn’t already exist. Over three decades’ worth of back catalogue to work with, you could probably run this channel for at least a month or two straight before having to start repeating episodes. I don’t even like SNL much, but it’d be nice to be able to catch up on some of the more classic episodes, especially if I could do so without having to suffer the indignity of having to flip to E! to watch ’em.
  • TDN (Teen Drama Network): The mid-day block on SOAP network showing back to back eps of The O.C., Beverly Hills 90210 and One Tree Hill is a good start (even if I’ve yet to force myself to break bread with the latter), but I want an entire channel devoted to this much under-rerunned subgenre. It could mix critically acclaimed experience recreations like My So-Called Life and Freaks and Geeks with significantly less credible choices like Head of the Class and Saved By the Bell (obviously using an extremely liberal definition of “Drama” here, but TDN just looks better than TTVN or TDOCN), right up to modern-day soaps like Gossip Girl and The Hills. Some days I just need to spend watching recreations of youths significantly more exciting than mine was.
  • WSN (World Series Network): I’ve come to really enjoy watching (or at least occasionally flipping to) airings of classic World Series games recently–I generally know where they end up, but I often have little or no knowledge as to how they got there, so watching them unfold is like watching Sunset Boulevard or Carlito’s Way, where you know how the hero ends up at the outset but have no knowledge as to how or why. Even better, though, would be a channel where your odds of catching a complete dog of a WS game were as good as catching a classic Game 7–not only would it make catching one of the unforgettable games more of a real find, it’d shed new light on WS games that have been completely forgotten by time. I mean, catching the legendary video for R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” on VH1 Classic is all well and good, but really, I’d rather see the catastrophic video for the Monster flop “Tongue”–just ‘coz, well, when was the last time you thought about the video for fucking “Tongue”? Hell, expand it and show Division and League championships too, if you really want to get frisky.
  • MTV Classic: Speaking of VH1 Classic. At this point, though, rather than a 24-hour video channel that keeps getting watered down further and further until it’s barely even vid-related, I’d prefer a channel that just took to showing archival music video broadcasts from the channel’s earlier years. I want the old MTV channel IDs, the old MTV commercials, the old MTV VJs and of course, the old MTV videos. Watching that VH1 Classic re-airing of MTV’s first 24 hours was one of the more revelatory vid-related experiences I’ve had in recent years, this channel could be like that all the time.
  • FDN (Food Delivery Network): By far the most ambitious of my channel blueprints, since this would involve the creation of a nationwide business as well as a TV channel. But to me it seems like the logical conclusion of the Food Network–delicious meals getting prepared, with a phone number shown at the bottom of the screen where you can call up and order the products being prepared from your local FDN hub. Too much of the Food Network seems to me like masturbation without the payoff, so why not make the foodgasm actually possible?
  • SSS (The Triple S): One channel, three words: Seinfeld, Simpsons & Scrubs. Given the amount these shows are rerun throughout the course of your average TV day, I figure we’re already about 1/4 of the way to this channel already, why not just go the whole nine yards? All three have wide but easily accessible back catalogues of episodes, all three are almost impossible to switch away from once they get into a groove, and all three stand up to countless re-viewings of re-runs. Well, that’s a total lie, you can’t watch the same Scrubs episode more than twice without souring on the show completely, but who would watch a channel called The Double S?

6 Responses to “In a Perfect World: TV Channels That Need to Exist”

  1. […] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here’s a quick excerptIn a Perfect World: TV Channels That Need to Exist November 19th, 2007 by Andrew Unterberger What if you woke up tomorrow and everything was perfect? [IMG] You know the feeling. You’re sitting at home late on a Wednesday night, hoping to catch something worthwhile and time-killing on TV before you’re ready to go to bed. You’re confident about your chances. After all, you get more TV channels than you ever thought you’d have at your disposal. You get more TV channels than only a decade earl […]

  2. Sonja said

    I think this is my favorite non-WSOPC entry so far. I would love a Classic Cartoon channel…but it would have to have 90’s cartoons too…and Nicktoons

  3. Victor said

    Hey Utz,

    There is a classic cartoon channel it’s called Boomerang

    Also before Comedy Central started cluttering their lineup with “original programming” it was about 80% classic SNL reruns and 20% Dr Katz (from which all my knowledge stems from).

  4. The Platypus of Truth said

    I’d kill for some “Dr. Katz” reruns these days.

  5. Daniel said

    I actually just want a Seinfeld channel. They could call it Kozmo or something similar to that.

  6. Garret said

    Yes, I did once discuss with a person whose name is Dan how an all-Seinfeld network needs to exist.

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