I guess this post is just my chance to rant and rave about all the TV happenings and all the junk I must wade through to find any shows that are good these days.
I switched cable providers recently and as part of my new deal I am getting a preview period over the next several weeks where I get access to just about every cable channel these guys offer. So I am getting quite a few channels that my old system didn't have -- like RDS, which is basically the French language version of TSN. (TSN is the Canadian version of ESPN for you folks in the USA scratching your heads.) It was great watching that channel on Saturday night showing a Canadiens game. It was just like watching Hockey Night in Canada -- as it used to be, because RDS is using the old Hockey Night in Canada theme as part of their broadcast. So I thought that was kind of neat.
The sports channels like NFL Network are pretty decent. They also show some of these so-called US superstations such as WPIX in New York and WGN in Chicago. Good news for hockey fans -- WGN now shows NHL games.
But I gotta say, so much of what is on these channels is utter crap. A lot of these cable channels are so obscure that it's a wonder that anyone watches them. There's one called Drive-In Classics, which sounds good in theory until you realize that the channel seems to exist just to show reruns of The Incredible Hulk. Then you have Game Show Network, which used to be good for showing all these retro game shows like Match Game and the rest. Unfortunately, I guess I joined their package a few years too late, because all they seem to show are games like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which you can tune into elsewhere. I guess they show some of these gems like What's My Line and To Tell the Truth in the wee hours.
Then you have all these channels like the ones under the Discovery banner and the ones Canwest seems to own, which seem to show endless reruns and other cheap junk. Why the heck aren't there more channels showing scripted series and other good stuff? It seems the shows I really want to see on TV just aren't being shown anywhere, not even on these channels that are way up the dial.
I'm also getting some channels from the Toronto area on cable, and I'm really glad to be getting TV from Toronto again. The problem is that some of these stations from there have gone straight down the tubes in no time.
I have got to say: what's happened to Citytv?? That channel has gone right to the dogs after the CTV takeover/pillaging/dumping. So much of what made that station what it is has flown the coop under the new Rogers ownership. A lot of the familiar programming has either left for CTV or been cancelled. Fashion Television, gone. MovieTelevision, gone. Speaker's Corner, gone. The Baby Blue movies, gone. Ed's Night Party, gone. The New Music, gone. Marilyn Denis used to host CityLine -- the show is still there, but she's gone. Even the news is different, ever since the name change from CityPulse to CityNews some years ago.
I'm also particularly ticked off that Citytv cancelled the poker programming they ran late at night on Sundays. It was good entertainment and a perfect way to put people to sleep. Anyway, it's gone, too.
What really strikes me is that Citytv has gotten rid of most of its movies. Movies used to absolutely dominate the Citytv schedule during the day and well into the night. They branded it as "Great Movies"; late at night they were known as "Late Great Movies." I remember that on nights when I was up late at night and couldn't sleep, I would tune in the TV and notice that City would still be running movies while every other station in town was showing a test pattern or something.
I am guessing that the movie library had to have been negotiated away during the CTV-Rogers talks. If this was a conscious decision by Rogers to get rid of the movies I would be surprised.
Anyway, the weekend and late night lineup from Citytv looks like a wreck. We're getting Judge Joe Brown and dreck infomercials from Citytv late at night. That's another thing, too -- the "old" Citytv NEVER seemed to run infomercials very often. Hardly ever. Do you expect viewers to be amused?
Why am I not surprised this happened? All in all I cannot say I am too impressed with the "new" Citytv, and a lot of other people aren't impressed either.
That's nothing, though, compared to the carnage wrought on CHCH ever since Canwest Global took over that operation. Historically, the station served as an independent with a focus on Hamilton-Niagara, and stayed that way even when Canwest took it over. But now the station has gone straight down the tubes after the switchover in 2007 to become part of the E! Network in Canada.
That station is totally unrecognizable now. It now runs all these "E! True Hollywood Stories" and other stuff from that channel. From time to time they'll show the local news, which looks totally out of place among this lineup. The channel basically looks like a cable station now.
I've been reading about Canwest's troubles and there are rumors floating out there now that the company may dump E! completely. I guess the network has been a big flop. So there is a lot of uncertainty out there about CHCH and what the future holds. I doubt the station will be closed down -- it's the only TV station in Hamilton. But I wouldn't be surprised to see a sale and for CHCH to dump its affiliation with this ridiculous E! network.
Anyway, that is my rant about TV for now.
(UPDATE - Feb 10) - You know what? It's even worse than I thought over at Citytv. Not only did they can a bunch of shows and get rid of the movies, but Rogers threw the entire Citytv entertainment unit onto the street, too! That's Liz West and Larysa Harapyn out of jobs. Considering that Citytv's entertainment unit was basically the backbone of the whole operation for so many years, that's quite a reversal. Oh, and I forgot to mention how they got rid of both Peter Silverman and weatherman Harold Hosein