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.)