G4: Requiem for What Was and What Could Have Been
Happy New Year, folks! My first blog entry of 2011. Huzzah!
But does G4 know it’s New Year’s at all?
I honestly wouldn’t know; I haven’t been receiving the channel in going on 3 months now.
As those who follow the TV trades know, in November 2010, DirecTV dropped the G4 channel from its’ lineup, and months later it was reported that “people haven’t been clamoring to get it back”. This comes as a surprise to no one. Least of all me.
Do I miss G4? It depends on which G4 we’re talking about.
…can go plug a hole, but THIS G4…
…I do miss. Sadly, the good G4 died a long time ago.
I was first exposed to G4 (did you know that the channel’s names stands for Games, Gear, Gadgets and Gigabytes–4G’s = G4? Well now you do) back in the early ’00s, back when I had Comcast Cablevision. It started out as one of those channels that we would only get ‘special previews’ of on Saturdays through early Mondays. We didn’t get the channel full-time until later. It was a novel concept: TV for video gamers. Not the easiest demographic to cater to; it’s notoriously hard to program palpable TV shows for gamers for the simple fact that most hardcore gamers are usually too busy playing video games to watch TV. But early G4 admittedly did it well. G4TV.com, Reviews on the Run (known as Judgment Day in the US), Portal, Filter (starring the magically babe-licious Diane Mizota), Cinematech and Icons never failed to entertain.
But then Comcast wronged us. Screwed us in a rather royal way. Frankly, I’ll never forgive them for taking this away from me.
Ah, TechTV. I’m not going to lie to you: as a certified 5-star geek, I loved me some TechTV. The Screen Savers, Call for Help, early X-Play, Eye Drops, Anime Unleashed (I’m not what you’d call the premier anime fan but I do like some anime titles; AU was my first ever exposure to Silent Mobius, which I enjoyed–any show about a team of psychics who are all pretty young women gets my attention)…good times, man, good times. Eventually, Comcast added G4 to its’ roster full-time, so we could watch both channels. And the skies were ripe with love.
Then came the treachery.
One day, Comcast (the owners of G4) decided that they wanted one of TechTV’s staple shows, X-Play. G4 already had a video game review show of their own, Reviews on the Run/Judgment Day, which was 10 times better and more concise when it came to the actual reviews, but the early X-Play was pretty entertaining. While Comcast could’ve just bought the broadcasting rights to X-Play and simply moved the show over to G4, they instead opted to go about their acquisition in a really sinister and ugly way. Comcast got an idea. A wonderfully awful idea.
They announced that G4 and TechTV were going to be merging into 1 giant super-channel called G4TECHTV.
I, like many viewers, was thrilled. G4 (at the time) and TechTV were both great channels. So putting them together should have been the Holy Grail for nerds everywhere. But sadly, this “merger” was just a smokescreen; a diabolical plot by G4 to get their talons on X-Play. After acquiring TechTV, Comcast began systematically destroying the channel from the inside. The TechTV shows started getting picked off one by one, until all that remained of TechTV was X-Play, the 1 show that Comcast wanted in the wanted in the first place. You wanted X-Play, Comcast? Fine, but did you really have to off an entire channel just to get it?!
But the beast wasn’t finished its’ meal yet. After devouring TechTV, in fairly short order G4 began dining on itself. In order to attract a wider range of viewers than just pasty-faced nerds, the Powers That Be decided that G4 should be transformed into Spike TV’s little brother. Suddenly all of the female hosts of Electric Playground starting dressing really trampy, Cinematech, Portal, Judgment Day and Arena disappeared, Icons stopped focusing on game-related figures and began making shows about people who didn’t have squadoosh to do with video games like Mark Echo and faux lesbian pop schoolgirl duo Tatu, Filter went from showing top 10 lists about video game related topics like “Top 10 Baddest Game Bosses” to oddball lists concocted by frat boys who have clearly never heard of round numbers (“the Top 17 Greatest Places to Party and Get Drunk In”) and the lovely Diane Mizota disappeared and in her place was Howard Stern’s bleach blond squeeze (the less said about the Beth O. Filter shows, the better). Shows like Cops, Cheaters, The Man Show and other 1-step-above public access programs which weren’t fit to air on TruTV began cropping up. The worst fate of all went to The Screen Savers, one of my all-time favorite shows on the network, which got ground through the meat grinder and mutated into Attack of the Show!, a show about nothing in particular which may have been mildly entertaining were it not for its’ over-enthusiastic studio audience of hoot-owls and its’ extremely smarmy hosts: Kevin Pierera (a mildly amusing guy who believes himself to be a Humor God) and Olivia Munn (a mildly attractive woman who seems to be under the impression that she is Teh Hotness. (You’re 1/16 Asian, Olivia. Get over yourself.) Recently Munn departed Attack to work on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, small parts in movies and is also apparently going to star in an NBC midseason replacement sitcom called Perfect Couples, which looks perfectly crappy. I’ve heard that recently the show has finally accepted that Munn isn’t coming back and gotten a permanent replacement hostess for AotS; but since I stopped receiving G4 by this time, I don’t know who she is or how well she’s doing.
So this G4 I don’t miss at all. The current G4 has absolutely nothing going for it except for X-Play (which is currently a dismal shadow of its’ former self), Ninja Warrior, Web Soup, Attack of the Show! (which I’ve never personally been into, but friends have told that it’s one of G4’s few bright spots) and its’ annual E3 coverage, none of which is enough to sustain it on a 24/7 basis. Even G4’s Canadian equivalent, which used to be the better G4, is now showing [adult swim] type shows and outdoor-themed programs instead of gamer/tech shows. Ironically, Spike TV, the channel which the current is trying so hard to emulate, is started to show more video game themed programming.
And somewhere out there, Leo Laporte, Partick Norton and Chris Perillo are laughing their heads off.