As a history nut, one of the most annoying contradictions in life is the fact that the History Channel continues to use history in its title after abandoning such programming in a mindless rush for ratings. Just as you rarely hear music on MTV, you rarely see history on the History Channel.
I used to watch virtually nothing but the History Channel. It then yielded to executives who saw the history as an artificial restraint and began to add such shows as “Monster Quest”, “Ice Road Truckers, and “Life After People“. If I had greater faith in a place of eternal damnation, I would not be so ticked off. However, it is possible that these executives might not face eternal damnation with such punishment as being forced to watch Ax Men over and over again.
The insipid and insulting programming on this once jewel of television is due entirely to its executive at A&E. A&E Television Networks president and CEO Abbe Raven has now been named to run a new company being formed by Disney-ABC TV, Hearst Corporation and NBC Universal. It will merge to form an even greater number of channels and is expected to accelerate rather than reverse the destruction of the History Channel. While most of us would assume that it would lead Raven to assume a new identity, she has received awards for helping create such abominations as Dog the Bounty Hunter, Growing Up Gotti and Intervention.
If one expects quality historical programming on the History Channel, Abbe Raven has said “Never More.” In her honor, I give you a paraphrased poem of Poe who is the only poet dark enough to capture the demise of the once beloved History Channel:
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered The History Channel weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious shows of history lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my cable door.
`’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my cable door -
Only this, and nothing more.’
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Channel -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named History Channel -
Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my cable door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my cable door; -
This it is, and nothing more,’
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was surfing, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my cable door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the tele; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Ratings War”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Ratings War”
Merely this and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my cable dish;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this history explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this history explore; -
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!’
Open here I flung the clicker, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Abbe Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made she; not a minute stopped or stayed she;
But, with mien of lady, perched above my cable door -
Perched upon a cable box just above cable door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony CEO beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s television shore!’
Will we have real history from days of lore
Quoth Abbe Raven, `Nevermore.’
That really ticks me off.