Remember 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?