Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Sad Demise of the "History" Channel



I love history. When I was a kid, I'd spend hours poring over old history textbooks, looking for maps, graphs and charts and reading about Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Webster, and Andrew Jackson. I'd draw maps of imaginary battle sites and imagine that I was the general leading troops to victory. I'd give speeches like I was Henry Clay addressing the Senate. I was what you'd call a geek, I guess- still am.

There used to be a cable channel made just for people like me. It was called The History Channel. Sure, it was overladen with World War II footage- there are only so many times I really care to see "Hitler's Generals" and "Dogfights!" and interviews with ancient vets, but I understood that the channel's archives contained several million miles of footage so what the heck? And sure, the channel's producers seemed to have a bit of an obsession with the occult- multiple "Salem Witch Trials" and "Secrets of Nostradamus" (and "Secrets of Nostradamus's SON") programs got a bit wearisome.

But something very tragic has happened to this history geek's favorite cable channel. It's simply not about "History" anymore. Check out this lineup: Axe Men, Pawn Stars, Monster Quest, Ancient Aliens: The Series, UFO Hunters, That's Impossible, Gangland, Ice Road Truckers (on the air roughly six hours a day.) I mean, what the hell? When did The History Channel decide to pick up programming ideas found in the dumpsters behind USA and TBS?

It's really depressing when your odds of finding a HISTORY program on The History Channel are only slightly better than your odds of finding a music video on MTV. I can't imagine why history geeks would want to watch the current version of The History Channel. Or non-history geeks, for that matter.

Hey, History Channel- how about getting back to showing us, you know, History? I imagine it's cheaper and safer to just copy the other lame, shoestring-budget cable offerings out there, but as one of the Axe Men opines into the camera you shoved in his face, "Life without Risks is Mediocre." So is your current lineup. Mediocre, and not History.

28 comments:

  1. I remember when "A&E" actually stood for "Arts and Entertainment." They showed ballet and opera...

    ReplyDelete
  2. And when AMC showed films commercial-free. Now they pile on more commercials than any other cable network, and the worst kind- for K-Y Jelly, Enzyte, etc. Sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AMC, where a 90 minute movie somehow lasts 3 hours.

      Delete
  3. Spot on. The History Channel shows precious little history anymore and way too much speculative programming about Nostradamus, the hunt for susquatch, tractor trailer drivers and lumberjacks.

    ReplyDelete
  4. We have the same problem with Canada's "History Television"; it started out much like History Channel but has become a magnet for stuff like Ice Road Truckers: Northwest Territories, Axe Men, Pawn Stars and reruns of MASH. Some idiot at program control is in love with feature creep and it shows.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes, this used to be a go-to channel for hubby and I...we don't mind a decent UFO show, but the total takeover is ridiculous!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Don't forget that piece of garbage of a show called Gangland -- they keep showing it on a marathon schedule every other day. Yeah, I like my kids to watch the "history" of lowlife vermin criminals -- like I don't get enough of it in the news already! I guess no one at History (I'd like to to know the "genius" who came up with the idea to drop Channel from the title) has the courage to restore the programming to real history.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Update: The "History" Channel is paying it's respects to Memorial Day with----a "Pawn Stars" Marathon.

    Classless. Clueless. Disgusting.

    Pack it in, "History" Channel.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Chris- it would have been a lot more honest to drop the word "History," not "Channel."

    ReplyDelete
  9. I feel your pain. Anyone remember the old TLC? TLC used to be the LEARNING channel, but the learning was replaced by lactation. Do we really need another several seasons of anything named Gosselin? Obese and pregnant? Didn't know I was pregnant? And great...yet another Baby Week....complete marathons of people who should not be reproducing.

    Lord help us.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am a Historian, I teach History part time as a professor in a University and the other time I do field work. I agree that it's tragic what has happened. I can understand and deal with the Nostradamus shows because at least it's about a man whom was a known alchemist & astrologer in the 1500's, and at least their are Historical writings from that time (whether we agree/believe or not) AT LEAST IT'S HISTORY and so are the salem trial as noted by the article! BUT GANGLANDS, ICE ROAD TRUCKERS, AXE MEN? COME ON ON, FINE IF THEY WANT TO PUT 1SHOW LIKE PAWN STARS @LEAST IT HAS HISTORICAL ARTIFACTS DISCUSSED(I'M NOT A FAN OF PAWN STARS AT ALL!!, BUT I FIGURE AT LEAST IT HAS " ARTIFACTS " INVOLVED.) MONSTER QUEST IS ON IT BECAUSE OF THE MYTHS/LEGENDS & LORE WHICH ARE CONSIDERED HISORY BUT UR RIGHT, IT SHOULD BE ON ANIMAL PLANET, and now american pickers is also on this channel due to the show picking up "pieces of history", this shouldn't be on it either b/c it's not the "history" we want! If they are going to do that then they should have a channel called MHM(modern history & miscellenious, they can add all those shows like american pickers/axe men/ice road truckers/pawn stars/monster quest/ ufo & any other crap! )so many worthless-non historical shows! It's sickening & frustrating! Let cops/detectives of gang units worry about the so called "history" of gangs! WE WANT REAL HISTORY!

    ReplyDelete
  11. The problem behind the History channels demise is CEO Nancy Dubuc, She has got to go and then the channel canbe restored to the format that brought it success and a following. Get her fired and you have a chance.

    Mark. Liberty Mo.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks Mark, I didn't know who was responsible and figured it was a budget thing- there is a strong stench of cheapness drifting over the channel these days. Very sad.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Amen! A complete misnomer, they should have re-named it "The Histrionics Channel" since it now showcases the foolish antics of low life pawnbrokers, trashy loggers, dumpster divers, swamp swill and the likes. I guess that it was inevitable, sooner or later the reality virus was bound to infect this channel. So now the take over is complete - it's back to books and the radio for me. Someone please wake me when the "Reality TV" nightmare is over.

    ReplyDelete
  14. The "Ancient Aliens" programs are absolutely ridiculous conspiracy theory kooky dribble. I am so dismayed at the recent trend of this channel that I wrote to them about it. I am not saying that it will change anything, but I had just had enought

    ReplyDelete
  15. I completely agree, the line up completely sucks now. I used to love this channel, and ya the WWII stuff got a bit out of control, but come on, who wants to see a bunch of yahoo's cutting down trees and catching aligators, it's completely out-of-context. It's a bunch of rednecks now, more like a reality/contest show. TopShot, AxMEn, Ice Road Truckers, Pawn Stars, American Pickers, it's all a bunch of crap. and this garbage about aliens building pyramids, etc.. go talk to the head of Egyptian Antiquities and see what he has to say about that (Hamas? I forget his name at the moment.)

    ReplyDelete
  16. agreed! also, when they finally DO do a history piece (and i don't count that apocalyptic garbage they try to shovectoff as history) it is so "dumbed down" that i never learn anything that i didn't already know anyway! the only channel i know of (with my basic cable line up) that actually shows good documentaries is pbs, and tey respect your intellect, instead of taking for granted your last year of schooling was around the 5th grade

    ReplyDelete
  17. I can't believe they still call it the history channel. What's next on the line up: "The real house wives of archaeologists" -- "Zahi Hawass's my new bff" -- "Dumbsh*t truckers" -- "Dancing with the Swamp People".
    -Maybe its just a conspiracy to get people to stop watching tv.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Terrible channel anymore, as is TLC, A&E and Animal.Planet.

    ReplyDelete
  19. The only history channel i watch anymore is history international! Its terrible now and now they added a really crappy verison of top gear

    ReplyDelete
  20. Well, with Pawn Stars at least you're getting SOME history.

    The rest of them just blow so much it's ridiculous

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm torn between believing that there is a deliberate conspiracy to dumb down Americans so they can more easily control us or whether Americans are now so dull and inane in general that they prefer Redneck TV to History.

    I'm thinking it is both, actually, since the one leads to the other as in a viscious circle - for the manipulaters become more bold and the idiots become more inane.

    Anecdotally, I have actually spoken to high schoolers that cannot even tell me what CONTINENT they reside on. This is how putrid American education has become and it is demonstrated daily by the utter absence from the 500 channels of TV of any semblance of education for anyone over the age of 6.

    ReplyDelete
  22. The History Channel has forgot what their name stands for, I have stopped watching because their programing is rarely about history anymore . Its about some redneck with missing teeth trying to catch alligators.

    ReplyDelete
  23. The History Channel is unwatchable now. It is now for idiots and rednecks. Oops, that is redundant.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I've decided there is no reason to even check the schedule anymore.Today had 23 hrs of swamp people.Pathetic

    ReplyDelete
  25. Here's a 23-hour Marathon of a show that no one with an ounce of taste would watch even once. Oh Joy.

    ReplyDelete
  26. It's the same with all channels, that's why I don't have cable. I did find a NatGeo TV special on engineering feats at the library. I checked it out, forgot about it untill the day it was due, and, having time to watch only one episode, selected one about the world's largest commercial harbor. It was a complete waste of time. they didn't describe the way the facilities were set up or the structure of the boats. They just said "Look at the BIG boat, and the HUGE cranes, and the helpful little tugboats." They promised me that one of the ships would sink, to keep me over where the commercial break would have been. They treated me like i was five years old. The whole thing was just a 45-minute long, nauticle version of a Ford F-150 ad.

    ReplyDelete