Welcome to another bone-gnawing week of America's Got Cable: The Search for the Nation's Finest Basic Cable Channel!
OLD BUSINESS: Oh no, no no no. You guys have done it now. Wendy Williams is gonna rise from the sea all wet and angry like the Kraken! Congratulations to...
You know what? Fair enough. I may not be a country fan, but I love people who love country. I mean, I also love hip hop fans. I love fans of MOST music genres. (Sorry, Reggaeton.) But most of all, I love people who comment on this column:
JohnFarrell0: "I will say CMT... Just 'cause I haven't gotten my redneck fill for awhile."
JJGSoldier: "VH1, uh, I mean, BET?"
BowlingFrk375: "CMT y'all."
NEW BUSINESS: Whose nostalgia is better, YOURS or YOUR PARENTS'?
Background: In 1979, a fringe cable channel called Pinwheel changed its name to Nickelodeon and proceeded to spend the next thirty years becoming the #1 cable channel in the universe. Ever since the beginning, one of Nickelodeon's most notable aspects has been its split programming schedule. At first, evening programming was turned over to The Star Channel (a.k.a. The Movie Channel), but later it was ARTS, then A&E; (!), and finally Nick at Nite, Nickelodeon's in-house programming block of golden-era sitcoms. Over the years Nickelodeon has gone from an importer of dubbed, foreign cartoons to one of the top producers of zeitgeisty programming, eventually spinning off a half-dozen other networks just to contain its vast library of properties.
Original Programming: After years of importing things like You Can't Do That On Television and Duckula, Nickelodeon ventured into original programming—first with shows that featured real kids (things like Mr. Wizard's World and Double Dare), but later with original cartoons such as Doug, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rocko's Modern Life, and Rugrats. Beloved live-action favorites Hey Dude!, Salute Your Shorts, and The Adventures of Pete & Pete were soon joined by Saturday-night favorites Clarissa Explains it All, Roundhouse, and Are You Afraid of the Dark?. Nickelodeon also turned ordinary children into known sketch-comedy stars with All That, The Amanda Show, and Kenan & Kel. These days, most of the Nickelodeon schedule is devoted to SpongeBob SquarePants, iCarly, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Victorious, and Big Time Rush, all of which rake in huge licensing and merchandise profits.
Reruns: Most of Nickelodeon's daytime schedule consists of reruns, but they're mostly in-house shows. The network's Nick at Nite programming block, on the other hand, is where the classic reruns live. But hey, fun fact: Nielsen does not consider Nick at Nite to be the same channel as Nickelodeon! Though for our purposes, let's just say that Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite currently airs the following non-Nick reruns: That '70s Show, Married with Children, Family Matters, George Lopez, The Nanny, Home Improvement, and Everybody Hates Chris.
Why It's The Best: If you were a child at any point after 1980, you probably have overwhelming pangs of nostalgia for your particular era of Nickelodeon's programming. I'd drop anything to watch an episode of Finders Keepers or Out of Control (which aren't very good), but especially The Adventures of Pete & Pete (which is SO GOOD STILL).
Why It's The Worst: It's all just a bunch of screaming and noise now, I'm guessing. #generationgap
Background: Nickelodeon's evening programming block, Nick at Nite, was a pretty huge success right off the bat. Its lineup included things like Mr. Ed and The Patty Duke Show, but these corny classics—while confusing and disappointing for kids staying up past 8pm—were nonetheless like crack from heaven for the baby boomer generation, a demographic comprised of known nostalgia junkies, all of them raspy voiced, lips like shredded wheat, turning random tricks for another hit of that nostalgia. Baby boomers, am I right? So in 1996 the corporate overlords at Viacom launched TV Land, a sort of 24-hour version of Nick at Nite. At first Nick at Nite and TV Land shared programming and sensibility, but by 2006 the channel named for a Rocky & Bullwinkle joke spun itself off into independence and its steady schedule of reruns has come to include newer syndicated hits as well as, more recently, original programming.
Original Programming: TV Land first dipped its toes into original programming waters with every development exec's favorite genre: the reality show. Competition shows She's Got The Look and The Cougar were joined by Harry Loves Lisa and a reboot of the old WB show High School Reunion. Like most self-respecting cable networks, TV Land has its own awards show, but recently it's also begun to produce scripted multi-camera comedies like Hot in Cleveland, Retired at 35, and Happily Divorced.
Reruns: Reruns are the reason this channel exists, so of course it does them well. Dusty old gems like Sanford & Son, All in the Family, Hill Street Blues, Gunsmoke, Three's Company, and The Honeymooners air during the daytime, but in the evening you're more likely to find modern reruns: Everybody Loves Raymond, Roseanne, Home Improvement, and even Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
Why It's The Best: Any channel that airs Good Times is a good channel in my book.
Why It's The Worst: Why do TV Land's NEW sitcoms somehow seem even staler than its reruns?
Official TV.com Verdict: I'm far too old for Nickelodeon's current lineup, but to this day I cannot get the Roundhouse theme song out of my head. Nickelodeon it is!
But now it's your turn! Vote below, then COMMENT and tell us your verdict: Nickelodeon or TV Land? And make your case! What do you love or hate about each channel?
Want to catch up on past battles? Head over to the America's Got Cable archives.