In case anyone is interested, Network One
), the new "interactive"
channel, is running a sort of sneak preview nightly on T2, transponder
15. I'm not sure of the specific hours, but if I had to guess, I'd say
something like 12:30am-5:00am Eastern.
N1 is currently being described in ONSAT as "a telephone-interactive
national cable service". I don't know for certain, but from all
accounts, it looks like N1 may just be the first cable channel supported
almost entirely by proceeds from 1-800/1-900 "talk" line advertising.
The channel, if the preview is at all indicative, makes for some strange
late night viewing. Right now, it seems to consist almost totally of
bikini exhibitions and bad R-rated movies that are a shade less explicit
than Cinemax's Friday night fare. Since they're broadcasting in the clear,
it makes sense that they would feel obliged to avoid the serious stuff,
but it does add a bizarre sense of tease to the whole affair, particularly
given N1's dazzling array of chat line commercials, some of which have to
be seen to be believed. (One shows two couples in a hot tub with the
voiceover: "Wouldn't you like to be here? You can..."; another shows
sexy ladies with the voiceover merely murmuring things like "Sex...
women... sensual... oh yeah...")
According to N1's schedule in ONSAT (it begins broadcasting officially
24 hours on F1/11 on December 1), their programming seems to jibe with
the preview. They also show a couple of titillating aerobics programs,
one of which I caught on the preview, and in the morning, an hour of
"Klassic Kartoons" and "Bible Stories". There's an air of weirdness
that surrounds the channel that intrigues me. N1's ID screens are
remiscent of the ones for E! Entertainment, with a rapidly flashing
pyramid logo and a female voice whispering "N1...".
One of the weirdest little programs I've ever seen has been on nightly
so far, and it's called "Wet & Wild River Jam", a goofy white trash
decathlon of hot dog-eating contests and jet-ski races, which seems to
be stuck on the schedule solely for the sake of its ten-minute bikini
event. (It's hosted by a sorry-looking bald guy named Pat McCormick,
who is surely someone's strange uncle and believes himself to be a
stand-up comedian probably because someone told him he was funny at a
family reunion twenty years ago. Pat's comedy nadir consists of
pretending to have secret sexual liaisons going on with any woman who
happens to be in camera range.)
Another moment of weirdness was when N1, out of nowhere, showed an old
black-and-white short film with a young DeForest Kelley as a man down on
his luck, who tries to commit suicide but can't because he's too poor to
afford the means. It ends with him discovering that he can't even use
the gas in his apartment because it's been cut off. (This was considered
a twist ending, I suppose, in the days before Twilight Zone.) The short
is preceded by a brief clip of a "host" dressed in commencement robe and
mortarboard who introduces it as "Suicide Theatre".
Is this the future of television--bikini contests and "Suicide Theatre"?
Does interactive media really mean scads of phone sex commercials? Is
late night trash really our inevitable, inexorable epitaph?
Maybe not, but after four months of having a dish, I've finally found
something to justify it over getting cable.
scott.hollifi...@the-matrix.com "I don't owe the world a smiley."
. -- Dani Zweig