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On Demand lineup is a little uneven

HBO offering complete first season of 'Deadwood'

Life’s about to get ugly for people who make their living scheduling programs on TV networks.

No offense to the guys who decide where to slot NBC’s 10th weekly repeat of “Law & Order” — but after spending a week living with Comcast’s On Demand service, it’s pretty clear the era of telling viewers when they can watch shows is coming to a close.

It really is that amazing.

Comcast’s On Demand service appeared on my cable box a little more than a week ago, with hardly any fanfare –or instructions. But the service is so simple, I didn’t need much tutoring.

After pressing the On Demand button, an easy-to-use (if unattractive) screen of programming choices suddenly appeared on my screen. I began exploring.

I went first to HBO on Demand, and the choices were pretty staggering.

Dozens of hit movies, including the just-premiered, HBO-produced “Lackawanna Blues.” Kiddie offerings from the HBO vault.

Most impressive, however, was the fact that every single first-season episode of the channel’s much-touted “Deadwood” was available to watch.

I had been considering buying the season-one DVD to catch up on the skein in advance of next month’s second-season premiere. Now, I didn’t have to.

Showtime, Cinemax, Starz! and the Movie Channel all offer a similar array of programming. The best part is, since I already subscribe to these channels, Comcast has wisely decided to offer up their On Demand services for free.

Also free: the company’s MoviePass service, which execs believe will keep people from switching to satellite. While not a complete dud, Comcast has a lot of work to do with the studios before MoviePass becomes anything of value.

The selection of free pics was beyond disappointing. The most recent major pics on the service were released a decade ago. Anyone for “The Money Train” or “Sense and Sensibility”?

And most of the movies are much older — and by that, I don’t mean “classic.” I mean “Wholly Moses” and “976-EVIL.”

Thankfully, Comcast’s service offers up a whole lot of other free programming.

On a recent night, I watched Paula Zahn grill Leslie Moonves about the “60 Minutes Wednesday” scandal via CNN on Demand. I checked out Green Day’s latest video on MusicChoice, then previewed MTV2’s very promising Friday night reality block.

Glaringly absent from this smorgasbord of skeins: any offerings from the broadcast nets.

Thanks to whiny affiliates and 20th century thinking, webs have been reluctant to hop onto the VOD bandwagon. Some experiments are taking place, but so far, in major cities, on demand is all about cable nets.

As nice as “Arrested Development” on demand would be, cable companies really don’t need the webs. Based on what I’ve seen so far of Comcast’s On Demand, it looks like cablers may have finally delivered the killer app that keeps consumers paying those overpriced bills a little longer.

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