Monday, August 26, 2013

Launch of FXX proves we have too many cable channels

On Labor Day, Fox is turning Fox Soccer into FXX, a spinoff of FX designed to get more of those coveted 18-34-year-old whippersnappers' eyeballs that advertisers covet. While eventually we will likely see some new originals, the launch schedule is built around a bunch of recycled comedies. Apart from the anchor "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," there is very little appointment programming here. In fact, though there are some quality shows on display, the whole schedule indicates that Fox really doesn't need another channel. Well, perhaps it NEEDS to make all the money it can, but I mean we as viewers don't need it. I wish they would have just made FX better.

"Sunny" moves to FXX from FX this season, and it's aging but still a buzzworthy program, so I consider that a big deal. I'm not a fan of "The League," but it's another established series making the move, so from 10pm to 11pm on Wednesdays, FXX is relevant. But elsewhere in primetime, it's reruns and--yawn--a predictable assortment of edited-for-TV movies.

Let's go to the Sitcoms Online article for more info, shall we? As usual, Pavan writes a great post about a lame network. He mentions that the network debuts with a "Parks and Recreation" marathon. OK, again, I'm not a fan, but I know it has a following. But look what else the article says: "It will also be on WGN America this fall and the upcoming new network Esquire." Right away, FXX loses some of its cachet. This trend of multiple channels airing the same program is a good indicator that we have too many channels. Of course, they could try innovative and different programming ideas, but...nah, we know that's not gonna happen. Case in point: the rest of FXX's lineup.

"Spin City" airs from 7am to 9am 7 days a week. This show was previously seen on, as the article notes, FX! The next two hours are filled by "Mad About You," followed by an hour of "The Hughleys." "Mad" seems to pop up every two years or so, fail, and then go back to the sidelines. Maybe FXX will have good luck with it. "The Hughleys" is hardly an exciting acquisition, but at least it hasn't been played to death and wasn't just punted over from FX. Noon brings reruns of late night talk show "Totally Biased," and then at 12:30, it's..."The Hughleys" again? Aren't there more sitcoms to fill the half-hours?

Yes, there are, and we get them in hour blocks from 1pm to 5pm: "Sports Night," "Arrested Develoment," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Parks and Recreation."  Then it's more "Totally Biased," and then it's "Anger Management" reruns and sometims MORE "Parks and Rec."

There isn't a single new and exciting program to anticipate here. The flagship offering was on FX, so it's not like fans will hail this new network for making its continued presence possible. If anything, this network's existence weakens FX. To me this is just another sign that, yes, we have too many cable channels.

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