Friday, April 11, 2008

A Vision for Television

I don't have cable.

But about once a week, I get offers from the cable and satellite companies offering me special three-month, 99 channel deals--what makes them think I want to trade in my rabbit ears? In February 2009, I'm going to have to buy a new apparatus if I want to continue sharing Sunday Mornings with Charles Osgood, so maybe I should stop shredding those offers and welcome in the millenium. I might go wild and look into a DVR--I get offers for those, too. This afternoon, I found two in my mailbox.

My family didn't have television between my 4th grade year and high school graduation. Other than being completely out of touch with 50% of middle school and high school conversations (the Friends or Seinfeld era), I think I turned out okay. It wasn't that my parents were anti-entertainment; we watched nearly every movie that hit theaters between and '89 and '98. Instead, I think they just didn't want to have the distraction in the house. . . same logic I apply to not having hundreds of cable channels within my remote control's reach.

I still see some cable programming at friends' houses, or the houses of my family members who have completely cast down their heritage and watch cable defiantly on giant, glowing plasma screens. And I know the dangers of having cable near: in college, I was known for entire Saturdays spent watching reruns on Comedy Central. One January, I watched two episodes of Quantum Leap per day. I should have included Ron Popeil's informercials at the top of my list of 'guilty pleasures' blog. Combine some Top Chef with a few episodes of Stargate and I've got myself a nice little weekend.

But I don't want to spend my life in front of the television. So when I tore open the cable/satellite junkmail offers today, I came back to an idea I've had for a few years. If we get enough people behind it, I think we might be able to make this happen. Here's what I'm thinking: an idea that we could call ChooseTube--a kind of 'Fave Fives' for cable TV.

Here's how it works: in addition to your local stations, you get to pick any five cable channels and you can change them out on a monthy basis. Hey, since I'm making it up as I go, let's say you can change out the channels at any time. Of course, the cable companies would never go for it; they're too fond of C-Span.

Instead of hundreds of channels you never watch, you get your favorite five channels (maybe 10 in a Family Pak) on a pay-per-channel basis. My initial order would include:

1. HBO: Six Feet Under is the best drama I've ever seen on TV (well, rented from Netflix). I'm through Deadwood and happily in the midst of Entourage. There's a reason HBO keeps winning all the Emmys, and also the top spot on my ChooseTube.

2. Food Network: I'm drumming up the courage to email Nigela to ask out her out on a date. And I feel like I'm friends with Jamie Oliver, Bobby Flay, and Paula Dean could be my aunt. Iron Chef is perfect for a Friday night unwind. . .though I might get picky and ask that this channel be traded with Animal Planet whenever Emeril is scheduled.

3. Discovery Channel: Because Mythbusters is so good.

4. VH1: A music channel that actually shows music videos (well, in the morning, anyway)? Their countdowns are good wastes of time, and I always enjoy Best Week Ever.

5. Comedy Central: But only for Kids in the Hall reruns.

You're probably thinking: no news? No sports? Yes. And yes. Maybe this idea isn't supportive of the cable companies' current business models, but I think it would be perfect for me.

What channels are on your list, and who's saving C-Span?


Jtengle said...

You got a problem RJ because Top Chef is on Bravo. Don't get HBO, I took a free 1 month trial for HBO and Skinamax and it is up on Tuesday. I feel like i have become an addict...i know i should quit but i don't want to. 5 channels would be tough but 10-15 would be doable.

by the way cable ala carte is a favorite cause of consumer groups and feared by cable companies.

R. J. Talyor said...

Jengle - Top Chef spoiled my plan, though I'm still picking Food Network as one of my five. Over breakfast (and post-run) today, Ben and Ted brought up the idea of 'pay per view' for every show. . .maybe an iTunes model where you'd pay $1 for a show. I like.

Nate Romance said...

Five channels would be rough, especially for married people. I think I'd choose 2 channels (ESPN and VH1), Kate would choose 2 channels (TLC and HGTV, probably) and then we'd have one shared channel (Travel Channel or Food Network).

I think VH1 is a solid choice, as you get the worst reality shows (Rock of Love N+1, that terrible Danny Bonaduce show) as well as all of those countdown shows and Best Week Ever.

bojengle said...

I agree with Nate, for anyone who ever has to let someone else control the remote 5 just wouldn't work. I like the idea of a pick 5 interests and each interest has like 2-3 channels in it. So I say news is an interest and I get cnn, msnbc, and fox. So you actually get like 10-15 channels. oh and btw...CSPAN is actually funded by a piece of the action from all other channels, so you could get cspan no matter what.

Anonymous said...

I think you are right on for not having cable. My parents canceled ours after they caught me watching shows with frontal nudity - I was 7 years old. It did effect my social life as I was not able to converse about cable shows, however the time spent not watching Nick at Night made me a better person today.

Anonymous said...

Bravo. I love Tim Gun and how Heidi says, 'Nina Gar-see-ah.' Cable is overrated. To anonymous above: we weren't even allowed to watch You Can't Do That On Television because of how disgusting it was. My parents thought Madonna was going to corrupt us all. She did...