Things That Tick Me Off: The History Channel

150px-History_Channel_logo.svgAs 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.

For the Raven story, click here and here.

56 thoughts on “Things That Tick Me Off: The History Channel”

  1. It’s hard not to think that Abbe Raven is without a agenda.(Think Rupert Murdock). It probably reflex’s her political/religious views. The station breeds mostly crap. Too bad, it has/had a lot of potential.

  2. Billy,

    I’m on my way out the door to the doctor, but I’m glad I checked my mail–I LOVED that show! We must be the same age. If you go to my YouTube Channel, or just go to YouTube, check out the Dresden Files– another 1-season hit. It’s a little different, but it’s in Chicago, and Harry Dresden works with the police. Why they made him a ‘wizard’ I don’t know, but it’s got a sense of humor. For that matter, so does Angel: most of that is tongue-and-cheek.

    Okay, you outed me! So, I get no relief from grief from my partner, joking about some sci-fi I watch. So here’s something I find pleasure in (I don’t know why they call them “guilty pleasures; I don’t feel guilty, just a little ‘closeted’ about it.) Supernatural. By January, we want to get rid of the TV and phone, but I’ve got this habit! Let me not forget Millennium reruns on Chiller and a Japanese site.

    When I get home, I’m emailing my therapist, and telling her I came “clean.” She’ll be so proud! Other than that, I really have nothing to hide, so thank you Billy.

    since I’ve had some trouble with the channel, it may be easier to search Dresden Files, Lionsgate. It was on Sci-Fi about 2 years ago. Gotta go, and Thank you, again. (Will we get suspended for talking about sci-fi in class? I don’t know all the rules yet, besides the big one. ciao

  3. Sribadiva, another of my favorite shows was called, “Kolchak-the Night Stalker”. This was a mid-70’s show that starred Darrin McGavin as a reporter from the ‘windy city’, who was always battling a “monster of the week”. This was ultimately what led to the demise of the show, which only lasted a season. It was a great show, but how do you sustain the credibility of a show that features vampires, werewolves and swamp monsters that rampage through chi-town, on a weekly basis, and not get a chuckle after awhile. I loved it, but it was doomed after one season. I always enjoyed “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”. One of Irwin Allens’ best!

  4. Billy (excuse my previous typo) and Mike:

    When I was young, WWWest was my favorite show. The movie was a disappointment.

    I had to check first, but I loved Farscape, too. I just checked “New webisodes are being produced by SCI FI, and are expected to debut in 2009. A new comic book miniseries is due for release in November 2008 that will be in the continuity of both the series and the upcoming webisodes. But notice the spelling. Plans may have changed now that it’s Sy-Fy. I hope I’m not being presumptive, but here’s the link for the past episodes, and perhaps the key to the future?? If you find out, let me know.
    As always, a pleasure to visit. Sweet tides,

  5. Mike and Scribadiva, I enjoy your responses. My favorite show of all time was “The Wild Wild West”. This was James Bond hits the frontier. I loved West and his whole arsenal of gadgets. He was also a “badass”, he manhandled the bad guys pretty good in that episodic outing. I thought Michael Dunn was brilliant as Dr. Loveless and his sinister mute henchman Voltaire, played by Richard Kiel, was outstanding. I just got the whole set, and let me say, it is pure joy to hunker down with 60’s television. There is something almost “innocent” and wholesome watching this kind of T.V. Makes me think of my childhood..

  6. “I remember when Sy-Fy was owned by a French company”

    I quit watching that network when they cancelled Farscape, the best show on TV, because it was too expensive to make. Wrote them that I would never watch again and I haven’t.

  7. gilly,

    I agree about Steinbeck, and even Henry Fonda. I read all of Steinbeck in high school, including the one about the unionizers that were communists? Can’t remember the name.

    My partner followed “Band of Brothers” which used to be on every Sunday, but no more, according to him.

    I’m reading PC World’s article about ditching cable altogether. We are thinking of doing that, as well as the phone. As long as we have an ISP with high speed, I can use Magic Jack, which I already have, and we can get a DVR attached to the computer to copy what we’d like to see. I always wait, the test of time often (but not always) tells you what quality shows are worth a glance. I don’t mind waiting; not a single new show these season seems worth the time. News, documentaries and sci-fi, and of course, C-span and PBS. Most of that is on-line.

    It’s also good for the purse. Everyone I know is hurting, even friends that are doctors and brokers.

  8. I have noticed that the History Channel occasionally plays movies that are historically important due to the caliber of the film and its’ accurate depiction of an important event in U.S. history. I believe they recently aired the “Grapes of Wrath”, with Henry Fonda. This was a film and book that are first rate “classiscs’…

  9. Somewhere, I posted how I’d turn off the TV when my partner fell asleep to NAZIS, 24/7, on the History Channel, only to have him watch the military channel. We spoke about it this morning, and he informed me that his nickname at prep school was Chazz the Nazi Watcher 24/7.
    He also defended the History Channel. We just watched Che with Begnito del Toro playing Che. The second half was very disappointed. So he watched the full story on the History Channel last night, and said they covered everything.
    I found that to be true with that awful Tom Hanks movie, The DaVinci code. The program on the History Channel covered the story of that–myth? The story is possible. But I’d much rather see that then Tom Hanks running around in an attempt to thrill. Yea, the dolphns from outerspace, tin hat stuff, is all there. But once in a while you can still find a jem.

  10. Truth be told, I believe Mr. Corwin, “correction” Dr. Corwin has a Ph.D. in either Zoology or Environmental Studies, at least that is what I heard…

  11. I used to enjoy watching Jeff Corwin, he was an “animal” guy, who seemed more cerebral and less histrionic than the Crocodile Hunter(rest in peace). I have just noticed he has a new show on cable T.V., he is sampling haute cuisine from around the globe. I just saw him “inhaling” a plate of what appeared to be Helix aspersa or pomatia. I have a vast collection of terrestrial snails from around the world. I particularly enjoy the snails of the family Achatinidae, not to eat, but to marvel at and ultimately to possess the “shell”. The joys of being a “lay” conchologist”. I love the “giant african snails”, they demolish anything you put before them, they are ravenous eating machines and exceptionally destructive if dispersed into the community..

  12. I do agree with you. Not all of the programs that don’t pertain to history are junk though. I believe history channel should buy another channel to broadcast these programs. Monster Quest is kind of silly, but not as bad as Ghost Hunters:p Most people in this country can’t name every president so they should get back to that type of history.

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