A & E: Arid & Empty- a lame rant about a lame channel

I used to love A&E when I first got cable (the last year of Reagan). I loved BIOGRAPHY, even if they did try to capsulize everybody into an hour and follow the same up-down arc whether it was Anne Frank or Gary Coleman they were covering, but at least it could be interesting at its best. I also enjoyed the stage shows they used to air (Purlie, Pygamalion, Pippin, etc.).

Now they’re not even trying anymore. I thought it was getting lame back when they brought Jack Perkins on (whose brother-in-law is he, exactly? It was wild when they would have Jack Perkins introduce Peter Graves introduce the narrator of that night’s biography) but at least it made for a good MST3K parody. City Confidential was cheesy and always had the same 15 minute “this is a hack written bunch of folksy pictures and idiotic banter to depict what life in a small town is like before we get to the chainsaw murders” but sometimes the case was interesting and at least it gave Paul Winfield some money.

But now it’s to the point of the ridiculous. Last night was banger. The shows were

Did a UFO Crash in Roswell?


Does the Bible Code Predict Everything That’s Ever Happened Up to and Including the Christopher Knight/Adrianne Curry romance/reality series?

And the above is one installment of an all week long series on the Divine Greco Hebrew Find-a-Word that was discredited years ago (in, among other things, The Moby Dick Code). Plus, what the hell good is it even if it is divine will that JFK intersects with Assassinated or whatever- WE ALREADY FECKIN’ KNOW HE WAS ASSASSINATED! It might have been more useful if when looked at with a mirror it read “Hey, Kennedy, if you go to Dallas in November 1963, keep that damned bubble top on the car cause there’s a guy in a book depository who’s gonna try to blow your head off. And Jackie knows about Marilyn. Ta ta, Bible Code Guy.”

It’s almost as if when Da Vinci Code hit the shelves, A&E switched from being a pothead to a straight up lap-dances-for-homeless-guys-$1-each backalley smack addict. And they’re not alone- History Channel panders almost as badly as A&E and somehow manages to work that copyright free Third Reich footage into everything. (“And that’s how Charlie McCarthy became the most popular dummy in America [CUE FOOTAGE of Nuremberg Rally] even while Hitler was rising to power in Europe[/FOOTAGE]” or “while the face of American music was being changed by such luminaries Loretta Lynn, daughter of a Kentucky Coal Miner who worked everyday in mines [CUE FOOTAGE]such as the one Göring used to seal up his treasures in including this one box which just might contain the Ark of the Covenant and the teething ring of Jesus and Mary Magdalene’s daughter Marjeeza[/FOOTAGE] as was her sister Crystal Gayle, not to be confused with [CUE FOOTAGE OF RACIAL VIOLENCE]Krystallnacht in Nazi Germany[/FOOTAGE].”

Stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid documentaries that would have given Ed Wood an upper middle class living if he’d just hung on for a few more years.

Do you think that if a cable network came into being that really did have thought provoking, non-pandering documentaries and series that there would be an audience? (The answer lies either in the Book of Esther as translated into Finnish and then subjected to a Find-a-Word, or in the vaults under the Reichstag, tonight with special guest historian Geraldo.)

Are you sure Crystal Gayle and the Kristallnacht aren’t related in some way? 'Cause I saw it on this documentary once…

Well, at least The Science Channel is now showing Cosmos. I’m going to tape that baby before TSC starts showing stuff like A Blind Dating Story and Hee Haw: The Next Generation.

I long for the boring Saturdays and Sundays of my childhood where I could just flip on A&E, the History Channel, or the Discovery Channel and actually learn something worth learning. That’s how I fell in love with ancient Egypt. Heck, my dad even bought me A&E’s series on the pharaohs and I still watch it regularly.

I miss actually learning things. Don’t get me wrong, I like motorcycles, but I can only learn so much from American Chopper.

And I know all I need to know about Hitler’s Mistresses, How Hitler Took His Morning Eggs, and How Hitler Like To Poo on People.

This dumbing down of cable channels seems to be a general trend. They start out trying to fill a small, specific niche but eventually “broaden” their content, presumably in search of higher ratings and More Bucks.

I’ve been meaning to pit The Weatherless Channel for some time; may get to it yet. Good, informative home-improvement programs like This Old House, Hometime and Bob Villa’s various avatars have been driven out by these Let’s-Give-a-Bunch-of-Camera-Hogging-Morons-$500-and-a-Mini-Cam emitics. Not to mention the fact that, at any given moment, about half of the cable channels are in a commercial break.

I think part of A&E’s problem is they’ve spun off a lot of their good content to things like The History Channel and The Biography Channel. (The more channels you have, the more money you make.)

Ha! I can remember back to when MST3K referred to A&E as “The All-Hitler Channel,” based on the amount of WWII documentaries they used to run. Looks like the torch has been passed …

. . . passed to Bill Kurtis (All Affected, All the Time).

"…and now on A&E, It’s a Hitler Christmas!


Mebbe if the television is such a vapid cesspool of stupidity, you should turn it off, and, I dunno, read a book?

Funnily enough, I am currently reading Kershaw’s biography of… Hitler.

Wow, thanks for that advice! I’ve never though to read to learn. Gosh, your snippy attitude so helpful :rolleyes:

Yes, I actually read to learn stuff- all the time, actually; but there is something to learning in a more visual format. A lot of historical text is mundane, boring, and a slow read-- whereas I can watch a nice series and learn quite a bit. I can then take that knowledge and go pick up a book.

Not to mention the fact that there is plenty of stuff I’ve never heard of. Watching a nice 1 hour segment can get me interested and introduce me to the topic, allowing me to then go research on my own.

But yeah, thanks for the suggestion.

There is one good thing about A&E programming…

T.J. Hooker in syndication

Newton Minow? That you?

Well, it seems kinda stupid to me to hear someone complaining “I miss actually learning things,” in whine about the programming of a handful of television stations. If you miss “learning things” so much, find something that works for you. You said it like television was the only source available to you.

Except you can’t because you said the programming of these televisions stations had useless content.

Here: Save yourself some money, some frustration & some time. Open to any page. Read an entry. If it’s interesting, then go buy a damned book. You don’t have to rely on television to bring you topics of potential interest either.

What the hell crawled up your ass? When I said, “I miss actually learning things,” I meant I miss being able to turn on Discovery on a Saturday morning and learn something new. I know many people who feel the exact same way. Perhaps you think I am a total buffoon who is unable to think for herself, but I assure you that I learn in many other ways (just sayin’ so you can rest at night). I just so happen to miss this particular outlet that I utilized throughout my childhood/growing up/etc.

And I’ll say it again: I don’t rely on television like some sheep. These channels used to be a handy outlet for finding new things, but that isn’t the case anymore. I find my point rather topical in a thread about how these particular channels aren’t nearly as interesting, educational, or relevant as they used to be.

Yeah, well I like A&E:

Dog The Bounty Hunter
American Justice
The First 48
City Confidential
Investigative Reports
Cold Case Files

Good shows in my book.

Growing Up Gotti is an embarrassment, but hey, no one bats 1.000. :wink:

Are you being intentionally dense? It was really fucking obvious that she meant “I miss actually learning things when I turned to the History Channel/A&E/etc”.

I liked America’s Castles, when they’d show old historic estates in America’s past.

Biography used to do really interesting people, like Napoleon III, or Peter the Great, or Joseph McCarthy. Now it’s all Tom Hanks, or Mel Gibson, or Julia Roberts. I’m wondering when they’ll premiere the Paris Hilton episode.

I do like the forensic shows, like Cold Case Files or American Justic, but that’s about it.

I can’t knit and read at the same time. I can knit and watch TV at the same time. So raspberries.

I rely on TLC’s gruesome late-night medical documentaries. They manage to come up with stuff I’ve never seen before.

Yeah, well, I can knit, read, and watch television at the same time, so double raspberries! :wink:

I used to feel the A & E love a few years back when they showed Poirot late every Friday (Saturday?) night (David Suchet as Poirot: you know you want it), but from what I can gather, they’ve shuttled the poor guy over to the Biography Channel…sigh.