By the slimmest (and snarkiest) of margins, a financial news network unseated the top-rated cable news channel in the nation!
You guys are hilarious. Moving on...
That's right! The result of an early, feeble attempt at grouping networks into similar classes means that two of the TV's most beloved channels are somehow facing off in the Sweet 16! (The winner will face USA for what will almost certainly be a slot in the finals). In the meantime, let's take care of business!
Background: Though AMC is now known for its prestige drama programming, it went through a period of bad buzz when it converted from an outlet for "american movie classics" to an outlet for "american garbage classics." Founded in the early-'80s as a premium channel, it mostly played commercial-free black and white films. It changed to basic cable in 1987 and continued as a relatively low-rated competitor for Turner Classic Movies, but in 1998 it began to include commercial breaks and in 2002 the channel made itself over entirely by opting to play contemporary movies of varying quality. AMC finally entered the modern age of high-rated watercooler television in 2007 when it debuted Mad Men, then Breaking Bad in 2008, both of which have gone on to win numerous Emmys.
Original Programming: AMC's original programming is a short history. In addition to flagship shows Mad Men and Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead brings in huge numbers, while The Killing, Hell on Wheels, Rubicon, and a remake of The Prisoner all made high profile debuts. Recently the network has experimented with low-budget reality show tie-ins to their dramas, including Talking Dead and Comic Book Men as well as the upcoming The Pitch.
Reruns: In addition to marathon airings of its original dramas, AMC continues filling out its schedule with movies, lots of movies. While contemporary classics like The Godfather are still a big part of what they do, you're just as likely to encounter random airings of non-classics like Halloween 4.
Why It's The Best: AMC's experimentations with original programming are as bold, challenging, and rewarding as HBO's.
Why It's The Worst: Some behind-the-scenes budget squabbles (and unceremonious firings) have made AMC seem a lot less creator-friendly than other networks.
Background: FX has one of the weirdest beginnings of any corporate-owned network. Back in 1994 it began broadcasting from a single apartment in New York as basically a cable-access style network full of live programming and internet-fueled viewer feedback (think G4 meets Reality Bites). Much of the broadcast day was full of in-house talk shows hosted by people like Jeff Probst, Orlando Jones or Phil Keoghan and the rest of the schedule consisted of reruns of Fox shows. When that format didn't work out, the channel was relaunched with more of a Spike-like dude feel, including securing broadcast rights to NASCAR and tons of MLB coverage. But FX truly began to come into its own around 2002 when it debuted The Shield and later Nip/Tuck, making it the go-to cable network for high quality, edgy scripted programming.
Original Programming: In addition to stalwarts It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the recently ended Rescue Me, FX's newer hits include animated comedy Archer, live action comedies Louie, Wilfred and The League, plus huge hits Justified and Sons of Anarchy. And Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story was as close to water-cooler television as FX has had in a while.
Reruns: Too bad FX's reruns aren't nearly so hot. Unless you like That '70s Show (which also airs on every other channel) or you already crave the Charlie Sheen days of Two and a Half Men. For folks with slightly better taste, you're also bound to catch reruns of '90s semi-classics The Practice or Spin City (Hi, Connie Britton!).
Why It's the Best: For a network that could have gone the crass and inessential Spike route, it's amazing that FX now rivals HBO for quality entertainment.
Why It's the Worst: FX can sometimes get a little cancel-happy on shows that probably didn't deserve it (RIP Terriers and Lights Out)!
Official TV.com Verdict
I truly adore shows on each channel, but going by sheer quantity of excellent programming, I think FX might have the edge here.
But now it's your turn! COMMENT BELOW and tell us your verdict: AMC or FX? And make your case! What do you love or hate about each channel?
Click below to see the full tournament bracket:
Want to catch up on past battles? Head over to the America's Got Cable archives.