Saturday, June 18, 2011

Free TV blogging -- ThisTV's Art house/Grind House mix

I always thought it would be fun to run a TV station and yet I've noticed that the people who do seldom seem to enjoy themselves. Most channels reek of that sterile kind of marketing you get when business people try to pitch a product they neither enjoy nor understand.

There are exceptions, of course. Ted Turner had a good time and I get the impression that the people at Weigel Broadcasting are having fun as well as they carve out a mini Turner-style empire in the new world of digital broadcast TV.

Weigel are the people behind ThisTV and the exceptionally good retro station MeTV (more on that later). ThisTV is basically a poor man's TCM. It can't compete with Turner's movie channel in terms of library and budget -- no one can (if my cable company hadn't bumped TCM to a more expensive tier I never would have dropped the service), but it manages to do a lot with limited resources using imagination and personality. As a movie channel, it consistently beats the hell out of AMC.

ThisTV has caught on to the fact that the most interesting films are often on the far ends of the spectrum and has responded with a wonderful mixture of art house and grind house. Among the former, you can see films like Persona, the Music Lovers and Paths of Glory. Among the latter you'll find American International quickies and action pictures with titles like Pray for Death. You can even find films that fit into both categories like Corman's Poe films or Milius' Dillinger.

If I ran a TV station, I would definitely combine Bergman and ninjas. I would not, however, run Mario Bava's faeture length pulp magazine cover, Planet of the Vampires from twelve till two. Some of us have to get up in the morning.