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WATCH THIS: Tonight's report on Uganda's anti-gay bill helps define Current TV
May 26, 2010  | By Diane Werts
missionaries of hate current.jpg

The Current TV channel has had a hard time getting traction since its 2005 launch, partly because of its original schedule of short-take video "pods," and partly because, well, what the heck IS Current?

Missionaries of Hate premieres Wednesday night at 10 p.m. ET on Current as a part of the Vanguard news series that's trying to define this youth-aimed current-events channel with the viewing public. Vanguard is the program for which Euna Lee and Laura Ling were reporting when they strayed into North Korea in March 2009 and got captured to become political pawns for months before their release.

It's an assertive program, with young correspondents reporting with an individual point of view, like this week's installment on "the American architects of Uganda's anti-gay bill" -- the one that not only criminalized homosexuality but made it punishable by death. Missionaries of Hate (here's a trailer) probes the influence of American evangelicals on Uganda's sudden push for the legislation, and talks with Ugandans to hear their feelings about gays and the law. But Uganda isn't alone on this issue -- Current notes 40 of Africa's 53 countries have anti-gay laws in effect.

Vanguard is literally the vanguard of Current TV, a channel designed to break away from traditional talk-at-you or talk-down television by immersing today's info-savvy viewer in the entire process. User-generated content was featured from the beginning. Web and TV snippets fly by as if refreshing your memory because you're hip to everything already.

And cheeky-smart humor is often a key component, too. That's not surprising in a channel aimed at the generation that worships Jon Stewart's Daily Show for both info and attitude. SuperNews! (Thursday at 11 p.m. ET) assesses the generation gap by skewering elders' technophobia and Larry King, while Rotten Tomatoes Movie Review (Thursday at 10:30 p.m. ET) partners with the cinema-takedown site.

infoMania (Thursday at 10 p.m. ET) has become a must-see of dishy observations of the week in media and culture. A recent best-of show led with a clip reel on the broadening of Christian TV into shows about fitness, extreme sports and rap. current tv infomania.jpgNext came a sharp video column (from the recurrent That's Gay! feature) that arched an eyebrow on current song hits' sudden "no homo" lyrics insistence. And then there was a scatological sendup of TLC cable docusoaps like I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. I didn't know I could ROTFL so hard.

The channel also serves its target demo with full doses of web weirdness in Viral Video Film School (Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET, it's "Crazy Online Communities"), hazardous travel in Deadliest Journeys (Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. ET), and all-around strange stuff in Amazing Eccentrics (Thursday at 5 p.m. ET, it's bizarre food). And of course, there's always Million Dollar Motorcycles and Surf Stories.

While shows like these air at specific times, they also air many times, at different times of day. In other words, you don't have to arrive on Current's terms -- it's always there on yours.

Which also means you can watch Current online whenever you want.

Next time you're playing a little viewing roulette, try getting Current.




Conner Fields said:

I wish they'd bring back TV Free Burning Man. The show that covered burning man (for 1 year?). I hate that this channel has reduced VC2 submissions. It was the thing that made it unique, and some of the art pods were good. Maybe Bar Karma's story board (which allows people to write tv episodes) will compensate.

Conner Fields said:

I'm also interested to see how media reviewers will treat Bar Karma. I guess it's too early now that only two episodes have run.

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