A&E is a lot more E than A

new-seriesImage Credit: Solarpix/PR Photos; Sylvain Gaboury/PR Photos; Paul Froggatt/PR Photos; PRN/PR PhotosRemember when A&E used to air opera and stage plays? (You know, the “Art” part of the cable network’s name, before the ampersand.) Ah, memories. These days, the network has officially changed things up, showing a commitment to celebrity reality fare.

The roster of new reality series just announced for next season, for instance, is full of enough B-list celebrities to cast a Love Boat episode. There’s a David Hasselhoff show in which the Baywatch star helps his daughters break into the recording industry. Another with Tony Danza going back to high school to teach an English class in Philadelphia. Bob Saget will travel the world and immerse himself in strange cultures in Strange Days. And Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider will star in Growing Up Twisted, a docu-soap following his family around suburbia. Yes, there are a couple of new scripted shows in A&E’s upcoming mix (Criminology, about a pyschology professor who solves crimes, and Big Mike, about an plus-sized detective), but it’s still a long way from the days when A&E broadcast programming like Leonard Bernstein conducting Fidelio (without commercial interruptions, no less!).

Of course, during these fiercely competitive times on television, PBS-style content may not bode so well for the survival of an ad-supported network. Perhaps I’m an old fuddy-duddy, though, because sometimes I miss the old classy A&E. I plan on expressing my dissatisfaction with the new direction of the network just as soon as this episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter is over. What do you think about A&E, PopWatcher?

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  • TheOpinionatedB

    Well, I remember when AMC meant “American Movie Classics,” and now they play stuff like “Revenge of the Nerds” and “Catwoman.” The times, they are a-changin’

    • Vikki Sixx

      Technically, Revenge of the Nerds is a classic comedy since it is over 25 yrs old now and it was actually a very good comedy. I’m with you on Catwoman though….not to mention the fact that AMC is the channel that allowed me to watch Pinata : Survival Island…ie the movie about a killer pinata.

      • Albert

        Not to mention the fact that AMC didn’t have commercials before.

    • Znachki

      You beat me to it! Yep – A&E, AMC, MTV, Bravo, and oh yeah – When BBC America used to have actual scripted British TV instead of reality shows and repeats of – I kid you not – Star Trek: TNG!

      • Melinda65

        I didn’t get any of those channels until after their heydays–and will finally get AMC and SyFy *shudder* this summer. However, I -DO- remember when TV Land showed a variety of classic TV shows, rather than a handful of programs; I have clothes in my closet that have been around longer than some of the shows they air.

    • pastafarian

      At least they give us Mad Men and Breaking Bad. That should count for something.

  • Dede

    I think VH1 has changed the most becoming all “pop culture”. When I was a kid they played the adult music videos and on Fridays we had Soul of VH1. The last time I had seen some art on A&E was years ago when they had Hall and Oates singing some of their songs and interviewing them. It was a Sunday morning. I also remember when they use to interview people on Broadway and they would sing some of their Broadway songs. I wish they would go back to that especially since I live in the midwest and can’t get to NY to see the Broadway shows. As long as they don’t get rid of First 48. I want to see Sgt. Caroline Mason back pronto!

  • erin

    Um, when was the last time there was anything, and I mean ANYTHING, about music on MTV?

  • Nerwen Aldarion

    Once upon a time I watched Don Giovanni on A&E…sigh, good times.

    • Joe

      A&E and Bravo used to be SO EFFING GREAT. Now they are pathetic.

    • Ceballos

      I don’t know if you get it on your cable/satellite system, but the Ovation channel is the closest thing these days to what A&E used to be.

  • Vikki Sixx

    Bravo did the same thing!

  • Kate

    Yes, don’t forget Bravo. They used to show high brow programming, like ballet. Now, it’s all about the real housewives of every city, hair stylists, and chefs.

  • Shamus N.

    Actually, there isn’t much E either.

    • ObiHave

      I was going to say the same thing. A gazillion hours of David Caruso prissing around barking orders is neither artistic nor is it entertaining.

  • mdb

    I am with you not much worth watching there any more. Seems all the “specialty” cable channels are just garbage now. Lots of crap “reality” programing on TLC – the need to rename the channel as there are no more educational shows left on the channel.

  • whatevs

    An plus-sized detective? I’m not saying you have to spend hours proofreading the articles here, but at least a quick skim will do.

  • Elizabeth

    And didn’t EW report a week or so ago about SyFy (SciFi) showing wrestling or something? Ahh, the dumbing down of our country in perfect form, the devil sure likes its newly purchased souls.

  • Joanna

    I miss ‘America’s Castles’ so much. It was my favorite show when I was a kid along with their ‘Law & Order’ re-runs and I still love them! God, what happened?

  • Laura

    I miss the old A&E and BRAVO. I remember watching A&E Classroom to see the unedited version of Pride & Prejudice. I liked when they did Jane Eyre and other classic programming. Biography was one of my favorite shows!

    • Kisha

      I remember those days well .Watching Pride and prejudice is what got me to read the books .It also started my love affair with period dramaS.tHNK GOODNESS FOR

      • Kisha

        last sentence should say: Thank Goodness for Masterpiece Classic.

  • Flyer

    The History Channel doesn’t have as much time for history now that it’s embraced reality shows like “Ice Road Truckers” and “Pawn Stars.” Guess it’s about time to turn off the TV and pick up a good book!

  • Christina

    I miss the old A&E when they actually showed quality television. Heck I miss the days of Murder She Wrote, and Magnum PI reruns. A&E these days is pure garbage TV.

  • elr

    It’s all too sad the way these networks have changed so drastically from when they first aired.

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