Thursday, February 25, 2016

Replacing History With Vice


Weediquette host Krishna Andavolu. Source: Google Images. 
The time has arrived to throw some dirt on H2. 

On Monday, this cable television channel will disappear from American airwaves and return to the womb from which it sprang – The History Channel. In its place, a new and somewhat bold kind of television will emerge, a channel called Viceland.

For those of you who either don’t watch H2 or have been living in cave somewhere eating bananas, Viceland has been pitching its programs over the past several weeks with highly-produced trailers of Weediquette, Flophouse, and F*ck, That’s Delicious. Intrigued yet? If not, how about Balls Deep? Got your attention now? I thought so.

I visited Viceland’s website and watched a video of some of its shows, which was backed by the kind of keyboard music that few over the age of 40 would appreciate. One blogger recently describe Viceland as “gonzo journalism for Millennials.” I have to agree. Many of Viceland’s programs feature hosts who look as if they’ve just gotten their driver’s license. But who am I to judge? I’m just an old fart with bifocals who likes his journalism Mike Wallace style with a side order of William F. Buckley, Jr., or maybe the other way around.

I can’t comment on Viceland’s shows at length because they haven’t debuted yet. That would be unfair. But if first impressions mean anything, it seems these programs are nothing more than a visual squawk box for the progressive left. Viceland appears to be television with a political agenda. Click here and see for yourself. But beware: If you’re like me, an over 40 synesthete, hit the mute button on your computer before the website loads. Viceland’s camera crew is top notch. Their images are so strong you won’t need to hear anything. The music, however, is horrendous. Mute your speakers. You’ll thank me.

I’m not questioning or even complaining about Viceland’s debut. I am, however, concerned about H2’s disappearance and why it’s happened. I believe the answer is simple: H2 forgot about history.

Over the past several years, H2 has had an annoying habit for casting history aside in order to give viewers reruns of forgettable History Channel shows. The same channel that gave us great shows such as Brad Meltzer's Lost History, The Universe, and the original 10 Things You Didn’t Know About with David Eisenbach (I can do without Henry Rollins or Black Flag) also aired Swamp People, Ice Road Truckers, and Ax Men. Television gristle for the eyes.

Meanwhile back at the mothership, The History Channel somehow became the repository for every Counting Cars, American Pickers, and Pawn Stars marathon that could be aired with impunity. (Am I the only viewer who is thoroughly sick and tired of Rick Harrison’s laugh?)

And like Mama History Channel, H2 is also guilty of running marathons. I like Ancient Aliens, but a weekly marathon of Giorgio Tsoukalos is more than flesh and blood can bear. I believe flesh and blood extraterrestrials would agree.

H2 was launched back in 2011 as a rebrand of History International. At the time I thought history was a hot commodity for television, that people were tired of the abundance of reality TV crap and were looking for something to galvanize their brains once in a while.

Maybe this was true back then, but somewhere along the way H2 blew it. Big time. Perhaps it was a lack of ideas. (How many different kinds of Hitler shows can you air without people suspecting a disturbing trend?) Or maybe H2’s programming people simply lacked the imagination of their colleagues over at the History Channel. In Search of Aliens? More Giorgio Tsoukalos? Are you kidding me?

I don’t know what exactly happened at H2. What I do know is that two history channels that should’ve survived well concurrently are now being amalgamated into one. In its place will be a channel that will air content I couldn’t care less about in 10 lifetimes. For me, history will celebrate leap day by taking one giant leap into the ash heap of 21st century television.

And then there’s Viceland – gonzo journalism that seeks justification for marijuana, profanity and shock TV. Big deal. To paraphrase Ernest Hemingway, I would grind Hunter S. Thompson’s corpse into a fine powder and sprinkle it over Shelby Foote’s grave to have the latter back with the living for an hour.

On Monday, cable television will throw some dirt on H2, erect its headstone, and plant a pot of cannabis at the gravesite. Flash that checkered flag! H2’s marathon of mediocrity is over. You’re history, H2. Literally.

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