Monday, December 01, 2008

H.B. Oh No (Canada)

Still grasping for something to write bear with me while this old man mutters.

Yesterday, DMc waxed on about fall TV and PVR's and the internets and the experiencing of one's television (and glad to see the big guy has managed to finally locate Super Channel on his dial), and it got me thinking about cable providers and the channels we get/have to take.

HBO is still considered the darling of premium pay television networks (even though Showtime and several cable nets are starting to challenge HBO's crown). And in Canada, we've been able to watch a lot of HBO's finer offerings via our own premium pay 'darling's', Movie Central and The Movie Network. MC and TMN had an exclusive deal with HBO to simulcast a lot of the US nets TV series and specials. A lot, but not all.

That is until recently when Corus and Astral Media (owners of MC and TMN) struck a deal with its southern partner in crime to replace one of their channels with HBO Canada.

I'm not sure if I like.

The upside: lots of wicked documentaries....several have really grabbed me, including Thank You Mr. President: Helen Thomas At The White House and Hard As Nails. And it's been cool getting to see shows I'd been hearing about but never viewed, like Summer Heights High (overrated); Little Britain USA (yet to really grab me); and Real Time with Bill Maher (entertaining though it completed its run after the election and won't be back on until March or something).

As for specials, I did rather enjoy Chris Rock's Kill The Messenger concert last night, though for the life of me didn't see the point of intercutting between three shows taped in New York, London, and Johannesburg --- I mean I got the point, but it really didn't have any impact). And I'm looking forward to Ricky Gervais' Out of England standup special airing next weekend.

The downside: REPEATS REPEATS REPEATS! In the past week alone, entire days were filled with full seasons played back to back to back (and then again later in the evening) of In Treatment or Curb Your Enthusiasm or Entourage --- and it was at least the third such 'day run' of these and other series since the network premiered in Canada only last month. Also, HBO Canada's pretty much all about the series and specials and docs, but movies...not so much. Which may not seem like that big a deal, but when we only get two HD channels from MC/TMN and one is now HBO means not getting to watch a lot of theatrical releases in HD.

Personally, I find that kind of a drag.

And I understand, more and more, tee-vee viewing is becoming about HD viewing --- but it's still movies I enjoy most watching in HD. Less opportunity to see feature films in HD takes away one of the big reasons why I subscribed to Movie Central. And when you calculate into the equation the fact that HBO seems to be sliding downward from its heyday of creating and producing ground-breaking innovative entertaining series (sorry True Blood - you ain't no Six Feet Under)...I wonder if this was the right time for one of TMN/MC's coveted HD channel slots to go 'all HBO all the time'.

Not that we have any choice in the matter...yet.

(oh, and PVR's need bigger hard drives...mine's always full....just sayin')

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