Cable Conquers TV
Cable TV began in the 1940s and 1950s, but did not become the standard until the 1970s. In the 1970s we see the TV Top Box appearing in homes all over the world. Cable might have become bigger earlier, but the FCC believed that Pay-TV might harm the current broadcast television stations. ABC,CBS and NBC did not really suffer even when cable became standard.
Lack of original programming or lack of a sufficient production budget kept cable second rate for many years. In recent years, however, Cable TV programming has surpassed much of what the original broadcast stations have to offer. With more lenient rules and less regulations from the FCC, the Cable TV Station have more freedom to produce what the public wants. Sex, violence and profanity can be found not just on the Premium Channels these days, but on channels such as AMC and FX as well.
I remember getting Cable in the early 80s. We had 13 channels and then something like 35 and then 50. By the 1990s customers could purchase over 100 channels. Today, I’ve seen the numbers go up to about 1,000 channels. Early on, I enjoyed the likes of TBS, WGN, USA, Nickelodeon, The Discovery Channel, Lifetime Network, The Nashville Network, VH-1 and MTV.
There were a number of Home Shopping Networks that I actively ignored. I didn’t pay attention to News or Sport Networks either. I already did a whole blog on just Nickelodeon, so onto other channels now….
USA offered reruns of shows such as McGyver. Later, they offered new shows such as Covert Affairs (2010-2014) and La Femme Nikita (1997-2001). TBS offered reruns of shows like The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie in the 80s as well as original programs like Heaven Help Us. Now TBS reruns shows like Friends, 2 Broke Girls and The Big Bang Theory.
I used to watch The Nashville Network before it became Spike and then Paramount with my ex-husband in the late 1990s. On Sundays we’d watch Horsepower TV, Car and Driver Television, Shadetree Mechanic and Trucks! On the Discovery Channel we’d watch Monster House and Monster Garage. My ex-husband also loved Battlebots. I would sit down with the kids and watch Mythbusters when it was on the Discovery Channel in the early 2000s as well.
In the 90s and early 2000s I remember getting excited at the launch of such channels as AMC, A&E, Animal Planet, Bravo, Comedy Central, The Cartoon Network, MTV-2, HGTV, The History Channel, The Learning Channel, TCM and SyFy.
AMC has consistently put out quality programming. They started out airing classic movies, but switched to original programming in the 2000s. I have enjoyed Madmen (207-2015), The Walking Dead (2010-2021), Breaking Bad (2008-2013) and Better Call Saul (2015-current).
The Family Channel became ABC Family, which became Freeform in 2016 and then went on to produce a lot of good television as well. There was the ambitious, but short lived Shadowhunters. From silly Secret Life of the American Teenager to the very relevant shows like The Fosters and Good Trouble, they have aimed at pleasing the bold and open minded younger generation. They make an effort to be all-inclusive and have shows that deal with minorities, people with disabilities and the LBGTQ community.
TNT had some good shows like Saving Grace, Raising The Bar, Franklin and Bash and The Librarians. They also rerun good shows like Bones, Charmed and Castle. FX is known for good movies as well as shows like The Americans (2013-2018), Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014) and The Mayans. I also loved You’re The Worst (2014-2017)
The Sci-Fi, later stylized as SyFy, carried a lot of favorites as well. I enjoyed the mini series Frank Herbert’s Dune (2000) as well as Alice (2009) and Lost Room (2006). Perhaps my favorite show from them is Warehouse 13 (2009-2014) though. The Canadian import Lost Girl was also awesome. I have caught reruns of Quantum Leap, Star Trek The Next Generation, Xenia Warrior Princess, The X-Files, Lost, The Twilight Zone and CSI on SyFy as well.
About the only thing I watched on Bravo was Inside the Actor’s Studio (1994-2018). I was never fond of all those Real Housewives shows. Yawn. On Lifetime the only thing I watched was Army Wives (2007-2013). And my one guilty pleasure on The Learning Channel is Hoarding: Buried Alive (2010-2014). The History Channel currently has a number of shows Ray and I enjoy, including: Alone, American Pickers, Forged in Fire and Pawn Stars.
This past year, I have gotten hooked on HGTV or Home and Garden Television. My favorite shows include Fixer Upper and Property Brothers. Good Bones and Hometown are pretty good as well. Not a huge fan of Flip or Flop and Love It or List It though.
Recently, I have enjoyed watching reruns on LAFF and Antenna TV. LAFF features shows like Grace Under Fire, Night Court, Home Improvement and How I Met Your Mother. Antenna TV features 80s shows like Growing Pains, Who’s The Boss and Head of the Class. There is also a a channel called H&I, which for stands for Heroes and Icons. They feature reruns of shows like Wonderwoman, Xena Warrior Princess, House MD and Star Trek The Next Generation and the Original Star Trek.
There are a ton more channels and shows, but I believe I have covered the majors ones. Even with 100 or more channels, most people watch 25 channels or less on average. This blog should give you a good sample of what is available and what I like.