April 5, 2007


Fudging History

The History channel is getting reprimanded for running the forensic cop show CSI New York 18 times a week. The channel has tried to circumvent content rules by declaring that the show, which at best is indistinguishable from the other 47,569 CSI shows on TV and at worst an execrable piece of junk writing (sorry, am I showing my bias?), "offers a critically acclaimed look at forensic policing in New York post 9/11".

What a load. If you can't hit the content requirements of your channel without importing 18 hours a week of something not even remotely related, give it up. At this rate, they'll be able to run The Facts of Life soon, because, well, at least it's older. And at least it's got George Clooney, mullet and all.

I still remember when the channels used to flip to a test pattern after the news and Johnny. Like everything else, they closed up shop for the day. I also remember when City-TV started up, and began running anything they could get their hands on to fill up the hours. Who knew this would be the precursor for most of the channels now on TV?

I pretend to watch Arts & Entertainment for edgy documentary on the arts. What I really like is the girl-in-a-dumpster show that Bill Kurtis gently guides me through. Everyone can yell and scream about the CBC, but the fact remains that without Coronation Street every day (or the Sunday morning marathon) there would be some mighty unhappy people. And the fact they've been running Arrested Development before the news has made me very happy. Is it Canadian? Nope. But it's excellent, and I like to think it's a Canadian channel recognizing excellence.

You should know what you're getting for your buck when you subscribe to these channels. If you get The Learning Channel, you know you're in for a certain amount of gaping chest wounds and cheesily decorated homes. If you watch anything on Fox other than House, you should know your head will be stuck in a right-wing vice of nasty. Though I will admit a secret love of the swapping wife shows. They crack me up.

Discovery should be showing me things to discover, and if I had my way those things wouldn't be motorcycles with flames painted on the side. The Comedy Channel is allowed to be edgy and cutting - if I wanted standard pap, I could watch According to Jim, which just might be the biggest steaming pile on TV this moment. Which is saying something.

Channels that advertise retro stuff are allowed to show the Brady Bunch and Family Affair. I still admit I am happy to Leave it to Beaver - I love that show. But if you're going for the toffee-nosed crowd with Biography and A&E and History, you better get some respectable toffee.

Canadian history is great stuff. If it hasn't been documented properly, perhaps we've been marketing it too politely. I mean, look at all the attention the American Civil War still gets. Now, that was a war that had the hell marketed out of it. Of course in the process, most of the facts were marketed out of it too, but hey, at least every kid knows where Gettysburg is.

As for the people that produced the spin explaining how CSI-NY is a historical show, I suggest they've missed their true calling. Get out of network television, and get into politics, where you belong. This kind of subterfuge isn't just welcome, it gets you voted into office.

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