America's Got Cable: Science Channel vs. Planet Green

Welcome to another eye-gouging week of America's Got Cable: The Search for the Nation's Finest Basic Cable Channel!

OLD BUSINESS: We want our MTV! Not the channel though, just music television. Congratulations goes to...


It may not have been a huge turnout, but this vote was HILARIOUS: Most commenters had never even HEARD of Palladia yet still picked it over MTV2. That's because MTV2 is a yuck channel, basically. Sorry, MTV2, you are the dirty diaper of basic cable. It didn't have to be this way, but you brought it on yourself. Here was my favorite comment:

jelly_donut_92: "Just get to FX vs. AMC already..."

Haha, well-played, jelly_donut_92. Don't worry everyone, I am excited about that one too, but first help me sort out the rest of these baby channels. SPEAKING OF WHICH:

NEW BUSINESS: Two more brothers just entered the octagon!

Science Channel

Background: Like most cable channels these days, the Science Channel began as a Discovery Channel spin-off. Originally called Discovery Science, it debuted in 1999 and has made itself over a number of times in the last decade, most recently in late 2007 when it debuted its current orange-box logo and an HD simulcast. As you'd expect, its programming mostly revolves around science—particularly nature, engineering, and the cosmos. Also, the people at Science Channel would really like you to know that in a few weeks we should start calling it "Science." Sure, whatever, nerds.

Original Programming: While much of Science Channel's subject matter overlaps with Discovery Channel's, probably its most distinctive programming revolves around manufacturing. Shows like How It's Made and Factory Made are basically just machinery porno, and shows like Build It Bigger and How Do They Do It? illustrate some of the most incredible man-made engineering feats in the world. Not all its programming is dry and informational, however. Oddities is a charming reality show about a New York curiosity shoppe, and Ingenious Minds offers some surprisingly touching portrayals of the fine line between brilliance and mental illness.

Reruns: Science Channel also offers an array of original, yet re-purposed, reruns (including recent "all new" episodes of Firefly), and some pretty great British science shows like Wonders of the Solar System and the hilarious Karl Pilkington miniseries An Idiot Abroad. All in all, their reruns are tastefully chosen, relevant in subject matter, and fresh-seeming. Not bad!

Why It's The Best: Science Channel airs tons of programming that's not only incredibly entertaining, but also has consistently high academic value. Plus, and I don't mean to sound weird, but those high definition broadcasts of assembly line montages often border on beautiful.

Why It's The Worst: Well, I guess sometimes the Science Channel lacks personality. But you know what has tons of personality? MTV2. So maybe personality is overrated.

Planet Green

Background: Formerly Discovery Home and Leisure, Planet Green was originally launched in 1998 as a direct competitor to HGTV. Re-branded in 2008 to focus on ecologically friendly living, Planet Green has retained the essence of its former home improvement bent but broadened its focus to the larger sphere: Earth. (That is larger, right?)

Original Programming: Make no mistake: Planet Green wants viewers. Although its original programming frequently does involve environmental improvement of some kind, it's definitely not above producing soapy reality series and makeover shows. Fabulous Beekman Boys, Conviction Kitchen, and Dresscue Me (a.k.a. the worst-titled thing on TV) are some recent examples of this, but at the same time the channel does provide a home for strange, quirky projects like Living with Ed and Isabella Rossellini's truly amazing documentary film Animals Distract Me.

Reruns: Corporate synergy pays off, because as with most of the Discovery Channel spin-offs (Science Channel included), Planet Green has access to countless Discovery Channel reruns. Lobster Men and Storm Chasers frequently appear in the lineup, as well as Science Channel mainstay Build It Bigger. It's easy to see the logic behind these reruns, given that many of the Discovery channels have overlapping interests.

Why It's The Best: Because it's kind of a young upstart, Planet Green can take some exciting chances, like airing the aforementioned Animals Distract Me. Did I mention that I LOVED that thing? It was the best!

Why It's The Worst: I guess this is a criticism for all the Discovery Channel spin-offs, but because so many of the same series air on multiple networks, sometimes flipping channels gives me the worst case of déja vu.

Official Verdict:

Unlike last week's voters, my vote is not a vote against anything. I like both of these channels A LOT. That said, I truly love the Science Channel. Its logo is practically etched into the upper corner of my TV by now. In related news, I don't have any friends.

But now it's your turn! COMMENT BELOW and tell us your verdict: Science Channel or Planet Green? And make your case! What do you love or hate about each channel?

Like on Facebook