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RETROVISION: TV Land, down the tubes
September 29, 2008  | By Diane Werts  | 2 comments
bilko.jpgSorry, TV Land. It's over between you and me.

And that's sad, because I loved you like mad when you launched in 1996, suffused in affection for Our TV Heritage.

You brought back shows we hadn't seen in years -- everything from '50s monochrome delights like Sgt. Bilko [above] to '80s game-changers like Hill Street Blues, with treats like Flip Wilson's '70s variety hit or Anne Francis' groovy Honey West sleuthery in between. You ran shows from every TV genre, sprinkling them with cool vintage ads, calling them Retromercials. You even dug up nuggets like tube auteur Rod Serling's 1958 Time Element pilot that led to him getting the Twilight Zone series.

But now? Oh, the horror! In recent years, you've stuffed your lineup with shows we've seen 10,000 times already. (The Jeffersons? Please!) Gone are the obscurities. Gone, in fact, is practically everything that isn't a run-to-death sitcom. And then, you started making those original shows. C'mon now -- high school reunions and baby boomer supermodel contests?

But the final straw arrives Monday -- and it is soooo heavy, it doesn't just break the camel's back, it could also squish an elephant.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition takes over TV Land prime time Sept. 29-Oct. 5, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. You're promoting this as The Extreme Makeover Takeover. You say (in the press release), "The show's theme of redemption and renewal resounds and deeply connects with our viewers in their 40s and 50s."

Yuck. Maybe on Oxygen. Or HGTV. Someplace else. Anyplace else! TV Land is supposed to be the home of "classic" TV shows, not product placement, not reality TV (unless it's an ancient episode of Queen for a Day or Real People), certainly not the flavor-of-the-moment. TV Land is for shows that are enduring, or influential, or quaint, or campy. Shows that changed the face of TV, took a snapshot of a bygone era, or made a potent pop culture splash.

I'm not the only one who feels this way, TV Land. Read your own online forums. Read the comment boards across the internet where onetime TV Land fans are blasting away. They're even turning to Amazon, for cripes' sakes, taking a moment out from ordering vintage show DVDs to locate the TV series forum headlined "The cable network TV Land: What ARE they doing?" They've only posted 393 enraged comments there so far this year.

Just like me, they used to loooove you, TV Land. The same way we loved your progenitor, Nick at Nite. Your channels radiated a winning personality that grabbed us, welcomed us, made us feel at home, and gave us a sense of ownership that today makes us feel all the more shafted. First Nick at Nite threw us over, and now you -- foregoing our intense loyalty to showcase flash and, frankly, trash that may attract passing viewers. Perhaps even more viewers, in passing. But soon they'll head on to the next fickle fun thing. And we former devotees will be long gone, to places more worthy of our spurned affections.

We sure won't be watching you, TV Land. Too bad, so sad.




Hans said:

Reading this I started wondering what channels are still true to their origins, besides Turner Classic Movies. The one that has got me is VH1 Classics, a channel which once again showed videos (I must be the only person who still likes to watch videos on TV) now has shows which are some type of original programming about musicians; all the time. Oh well, onto something else I guess.

Diane said:

You're right, Hans. Once ad-free AMC dropped its vintage movie "classics" in favor of recent fluff. (And commercials, of course.) TNN abandoned its country fans for the "guy" stuff of Spike. MTV (and VH1) left behind videos and, sometimes it seems, even music. Discovery used to be straightforward documentaries, and now it's turning toward semi-reality shows.

The painful thing is, the more successful a channel is (thanks to its loyal core fans), the more successful its owners want it to be -- which means they turn more "mainstream" to lure those casual viewers.

Oh, the irony.

Jim said:

No one cares about its loyal viewers when the almighty dollar is involved. Once a bastion of MASH, All in the Family, Andy and on Saturdays Bonanza is now the home of reality that isn't real and just as scripted if not moreso than the sitcoms we love.

Just like radio, TV has been taken over and ruined by consultants who think they know what we want when all they want is a bigger paycheck from the owners of these crappy shows that pass for entertainment.

Adam Bomb 1701 said:

I told one of the supervisors at my office that the only good things TV Land ran were "Star Trek" and "Cheers". Well, wouldn't you know it! TV Land just dropped "Cheers" for "3rd Rock From The Sun." What I hate about TV Land is that they've started to run movies. It's "TV Land", for crying out loud. Not "Movie Land." Don't get me started on "Extreme Makeover - Home Edition."
American Life TV (Channel 153 on Time Warner; it's not on Cablevision or DirecTV) has a lot of good old stuff. "Hill Street Blues," "St. Elsewhere," "LA Law", "Mary Tyler Moore" (overrated in my opinion, but it's there), both Bob Newhart classic shows, "WKRP," "Lost In Space", "Time Tunnel," "Green Hornet" and "Batman." Since "Green Hornet" and "Batman" may not be on DVD in our lifetimes, Am Life is the only place to see them for now.
TNT has also betrayed its roots. It started off as a channel that ran movies from the MGM library (a task now done better by TCM.) Now, TNT has become just another rerun channel.

Diane said:

Cheers lives! The show has moved to another channel that's increasingly worth a look -- Hallmark Channel. Sam and the gang air Sunday mornings 10-to-noon ET, with some weekend late-night airings, too. Check the schedule at hallmarkchannel.com.

Other vintage treats on Hallmark include The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie and heaping helpings of M*A*S*H (weekdays 5-7 p.m. ET).

kevin said:

I used to watch TV Land a lot more. It is amazing that I get over 100 channels on my CableVison and there are hardly any channels showing 50s thru 70s reruns. I miss AmLife, since I do not have Time Warner anymore. TVLand's reality shows are awful, especially Extreme Home Makeover.

Adam Bomb 1701 said:

TV Land has gotten even worse since my post of October 1. Instead of "Star Trek" from 6 to 7 a.m. weekdays, TV Land just started to run what I consider the bane of broadcasting - infomercials. I don't know for how long they'll run, but I doubt that CBS, or whoever owns TV Land, will want to lose the cash that the infomercials generate. Unless "Trek" returns, and soon, I'll have absolutely no need for TV Land ever again. I can get my "Trek" fix with my DVD set. The episodes there are uncut. Which is more than I can say for TV Land's programming.

navin johnson said:

tvland, please quit messin with our beloved shows. leave cheers on, brilliant! 3rd rock is great. all of these other reality shows, sheeese! a dime a dozen. we want sitcoms!!
please!! btw, I have never done this before, so that should attest to how upset I am over how you have ruined tv for me.

Patti said:

How sad to see what TV Land has become. They had a loyal fan base and had decent ratings when they dared to do be different and give the masses the classic shows they wanted.
TVL claims to be aiming to baby boomers but not baby boomer has liked what they offer now or what they took away from them.
The TV Land boards are full of nothing but complaints and people begging for the true classic's to be returned. TV Link who runs that board for TVL keeps insisting that we really want High School reunion and other crap they try to shove down our throats. IF that was true, wouldn't that TVL board be overwhelmed with those fans who love those shows? You see VERY few people in favor of those Reality shows!
I came to terms with what TV Land did to us long ago but I still get a little upset that they continue to lead people on on that board...yes leading them on! Making them THINK if they request a classic enough, it'll return. How many times has that happened since TVL announced they were NO longer a classic TV network???
TV Land will NEVER put all those shows back on, it keeps getting worse on that network. They have admitted it has MOVED in a new direction.
Let the money talk for yourself by not watching TVL at all and not buying any product that advertises on that network.

Joel said:

American Life TV is the only cable channel worth watching anymore. On Sunday nights, they show three of the best drama series of all time: St. Elsewhere, Hill Street Blues and LA Law. Not only that, but that they do with little or no cut scenes.

What made TVLand so great was that it showed classic television that you could not find on other stations. They had "Dennis The Menace", "Mister Ed", "Dobbie Gillis", "My Three Sons", "Donna Reed", etc. If I was unhappy with the trash that was airing on network television or other cable channels, I would turn on TVLand and there would always be something good on. Now, they are showing the same trash that made you want to switch to TVLand before. Why would you air overplayed shows like "Scrubs" and "Friends" when they are on like five other networks? And the world is just begging for another stupid "Top Model" show.

Please as once loyal viewers, we need to band together and boycott this crap on TVLand!

Tim said:

Joel, It would be Great if American Life TV and or RTN were offered to all cable and Dish Companies. I have contacted everyone and it seems we won't be getting either network. I would even buy an antenna to pick it if that would help but it wouldn't.
Hopefully someday a network will see the Value in a All Classic TV Network. There is a huge market for it. We have networks for food, sports, crafts, home repair, home sells, shopping, comedies, horror, soaps, talk shows, a gay network, NASA, Health, Babies,movie channels.
Basically we are offered anything and everything except the Classic TV Shows. Makes me think something is wrong with this picture. Literally thousands and thousands of people are being ignored.

mergatroid said:

I can't say enough visceral venom about how I feel about TV Land. I think the brain-dead fools running it today actually hate vintage 50s/60s TV fare. The corporate flunky thay have overseeing their website, TVLtheLink or whatever the hell he calls himself. The guy is the epitome of what is wrong with viacom. Larry Jones is the idiot who has made a joke of TV Land and N@N but Link is the attack dog. The guy's tact with the huge amount of negative public feedback constantly being expressed on the TV Land website is very unprofessional to put it mildly. His demeanor is belligerent and borders on hostility and it really makes you wonder about the mentality of the people who are running viacom today. It is obvious from the sheer bulk of the daily negative feedback that the public wants a return to vintage programming on TV Land but it's no good. The programming department at TV Land (if you can really call them that) has erected a impenetrable brick wall between themselves and the public and they utterly refuse to hear anything that is being expressed on their site's public forums. I honestly suspect that they do not care if TV Land folds.

mergatroid said:

It's not just the viacom networks but the whole of american cable that has become just... awful! Just about everything, movies, vintage tv shows & cartoons are purposely being withheld from the viewing public because of the DVD market. Your average cable system has between 60 to 70 channels on the basic tier. You would think that would translate into something for everybody...you'd think! Boy, I remember late night television back in the 1970s. MUCH MORE DIVERSITY with fewer channels. You had your pick of old westerns, sci-fi movies and cancelled tv shows from years past. BOY, does that look good to me now! Dozens upon dozens of cablle channels and between 12 midnite and six to seven in the morning...nothing but informercials! Diversity? We all recognize what has happened and it is no great mystery. The corporate huckster-greedmeisters have taken over...and BOY have they ever taken over! The only thing left for american television to do is collapse. Can't say it would break me up too much if it did.

mergatroid said:

Today's Hollywood is controlled by a group of thirty and twentysomethings with some fortysomethings mixed in who as a group of people are largely amoral (not unlike those of Wall St.) whose only guiding principle is to cater to the lowest common denominator. To them it's all about demographics. As far as older groups of americans are concerned, we do not exist for them so if you are in your 40s, 50s, 60s or 70s, you are non-existent to today's Hollywood greed machine. As far as the movie and television fare of past decades is concerned, if it was made before 1980 it is irrelevant. So to them, the hollywood braintrusts of today, there is no past and there is no future. just the order of the moment and that is to cater to the lowest common denominater of the prurient interests of today's younger masses. In short, american TV has gone to hell.

mergatroid said:

I think the only thing that is going to give TV Land's longsuffering viewers back the TV Land that existed between 1996-2003 is for viacom to suffer a really bad day at the NYSE...then guys like Larry Jones and TVLtheLink, after they've been fired, can finally move on to some other field of endeavor, something that they might actually be good at like scooping up animal waste from the streets.

mergatroid said:

You know, I peruse the tvland.com message forums almost every day especially programming comments. This TVLtheLink fella is really infuriating. The viacom programmers who have ruined TV Land over the last 6 years are bad enough by appealing to the prurient interests of the younger crowd but this...flunky crud!....Link...really likes shoving it down the throats of 99% percent of the posters at tvland.com. He has no good answer for the garbage that his employers are pathetically trying to force-feed a disgusted viewership so the skunk is reduced to baiting the multitudes of complainers with bilge that he knows is crap as well as they. I look forward to seeing just how much of a conversationalist he is going to be on the day that viacom folds.

mergatroid said:

Well, the negative feedback just keeps coming fast & furious on the very active tvland.com message board "current programming comments". You know, some months ago for some strange reason thay added a message feature to their site where you can actually send them your comments.A particularly dumb move since TVL management had to know they would get alot of negative feedback. more directly. Anyway, thay have it set up so you have to choose a catagory and a specific show you wanna comment on, of course, many will just disregard protocol in order to let TVL have a piece of their minds. I did that myself just so I could call them a bunch of unbelievable cheapskates and that their viewership wouldn't be deserting them if they could just throw vintage TV lovers a few breadcrumbs. I actually got an email response from somebody and so help me, I think it was that Crud Link himself who responded. Boy, I can only say that if you think that his on-site demeanor is unprofessional...Well, it was a very short remark. Some BS insinuating that I was being cowardly because I was hiding behind a web-based email address. Where does Crud the Link or ANYONE ELSE working for TV Land GET OFF BEING INDIGNANT towards ANYONE let alone the public??? THEY'RE the ones who ARE IN THE WRONG!!!

nergatroid said:

TV Land programmers are really nuts. being SHOVED right down the throats of TV Land viewers is "The Cougar" which HAS ALREADY been knocked in TV Guide's weekly Cheers N'Jeers column, also coming up is the 2009 TV Land Awards Show.........................WHY??????????????????

mergatroid said:

Hopefully...MAYBE someday the upper echelon of the viacom heirarchy will look at what has become of all their cable networks like Nick-at-Nite and TV Land AND FINALLY REALIZE that this tragedy has gone on long enough!...and will finally CLEAN HOUSE AND FIRE these pack of fools lead by Larry Jones. IT CAN'T HAPPEN TOO SOON because it is ALREADY long overdue. Boy, would I like to be the one to ask Mr. Jones if he thinks he has enough know-how to handle a dog-scoop...of course if Larry were too afraid to ask for instructions he can always get them from TVLtheLink.

Kim D said:

You hit the nail on the head. When TV Land debuted in 1996 I was a huge fan. I remember the classic shows they had on back then: Dragnet, The Donna Reed Show, Father Knows Best, The Bob Newhart Show and many more. Now they're showing reality shows (The Cougar?), movies (it's TV Land, not Movie Land) and infomercials (does TV Land need the money that bad?). I wish someone new would take over at TV Land and restore it to its former glory. Don't even get me started on AMC. I can't watch anymore, not with all the commercials. I'll stick with TCM. I'll sign this Disgruntled Baby Boomer.

Jeff S said:

I feel all your pain. I am just amazed with all the negative comments on the comments board, and the only response is to do the opposite, in other words put out more reality TV. I wish cable companies owuld listen and drop tv land, then maybe they would listen, but they wont. MTV and VH1 have gone to hell, well look at what they cater to, the 20- 30 somethings, also knows as Generation Dumb.

TV Land to Live, Must Die said:

TVLTheLink has GOT to be *the* most insufferable, arrogant creep on the web.
He deleted ALL the posts in the "Programming Comments" forum, because they were filled with hate for the idiotic "Prime" programming. He called customer's complaints "wailings", irrelevant, and a waste of time.

I give the "Prime" format 1 more year.
When Larry Jones and company are out on their ear, collecting unemployment, THEN we will hear some *real* wailing!

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Since so many of these posts are so old, I think it'd be fair to say that TVLand is the best it's ever been. How could you not like Hot In Cleveland, The Soul Man, Retired at 35 and Fran Drecsher's cool show, Happily Divorced. TvLand aired some really entertaining reality shows that, unfortunately, have been cancelled. TVLand had to make changes because no one wants to watch stupid stuff like I Love Lucy or Happy Days anymore. Those old shows are so ---! I don't like Rosanne, Raymond, The '70s Show or Cosby these shows are --- too. The Nanny and Married With Children are some of the all time greatest classic sitcoms. Sitcoms got cool in the '90s and I hope that TVLand will start airing Big Bang Theory. That show so rocks!
Sep 14, 2013   |  Reply
Angela Carnevale
There are many good shows that you could put on Saturday and Sundays instead of Roseanne. You can add new shows like the MaryTylerMoore show; Bob Newheart; Happy Days; I love Lucy instead of that Roseann Show where stupidity and Ignorance prevail. This is where studity and ignorance come to die. How you can occupy good prime time TV with that stupidity is beyond my comprehension. On Saturdays and Sundays, this dumb show is on for about 8 hours each day. This show was stupid when it was first on TV and it is still stupid. I don't know who is in charge of the Viacom programming but they need to be fired for continuing this type of programing. I guess the people who put Roseanne on this network for so many hours have the same type of mentality.
Feb 17, 2013   |  Reply
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