For the last week, thanks to one of those free-trial periods, I’ve been receiving 30 pay movie channels. And the really remarkable part is how often I’ve surfed through them without finding anything that I had even the most remote interest in watching.
Thus far, pay TV appears to have weathered the recession, perhaps in part because people are staying home more and thus hanging onto their entertainment options. Yet even with all those channels available — and strictly from a movie standpoint, I’d expand this to include Turner Classic Movies, AMC and other basic channels that air movies regularly with commercial interruptions, like FX and TNT — it’s odd how much dreck there is out there.
TCM, in fact, has become a kind of default channel for me, the place I go most frequently between bouts of watching new-program DVDs to breathe in a few minutes of an old classic. The other night I found myself watching about half of “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” for example. There are also recent movies that are easily consumed (or re-consumed) in 10-minute bits, so when HBO was running “300,” say, I probably watched it two or three more times, albeit in non-linear increments. (Occasionally I’d flip to HBO and land smack dab in the middle of the same section of the movie I had just watched, a phenomenon that Variety editor Tim Gray once rather brilliantly referred to as “deja view.”)
Obviously, this is extremely subjective, but beyond the fact that I already see a lot of movies, this strikes me as an indictment on the general quality of movie-making today and the way movie channels use library crap to augment the mediocre new titles in their scheduling rotations. At any rate, I’d be curious to hear others’ thoughts and experiences in this regard — and whether anybody is rethinking or cutting back on the elective portions of their cable bill due to the recession.