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October 24, 2014

Six Shows That Don't Match the Cable Channels They're On

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 26th 2011 10:00AM
Pawn Stars on Lifetime?Over the last week, I've been talking about the concept of channel drift, when a channel strays away from its original reason for being.

In a way, almost every cable channel has drifted in format. HBO only showed uncut theatrical movies at one time; now they're more known for original series than they are for the uncut movies. One of the by-products of channel drift is that you can identify shows that make you scratch your head as to why they're on a particular network.

These could be shows that have held on for dear life as the channel it was on changed formats, or it could be a show that a channel wanted to test out in order to expand its audience. In a few cases, corporate synergy made for strange bedfellows, allowing channels to rerun shows from corporate cousins that don't seem to fit.

In all of these cases, their presence on their particular channels make a person scratch their heads. But in a lot of cases, they're not going anywhere.

'Pawn Stars''Pawn Stars'
Lifetime (it airs reruns of the History hit)
Why it doesn't fit: Well, it's pretty obvious: The boys from the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas would look more comfortable in a biker bar than they would be alongside 'Army Wives,' 'Drop Dead Diva,' 'Grey's Anatomy' reruns and a bevvy of female-centric TV movies. Rick, Big Hoss, Chumlee and the Old Man would never be caught dead watching Lifetime, much less sharing airtime on the channel.
Why is it there? Synergy, my friend. Lifetime and History are owned by AETN, and since 'Pawn Stars' is History's highest-rated series, they figured the viewers of Lifetime might like the antiques aspect of the show. Or they think Chumlee is some sort of roly-poly heartthrob. Either way, while it's nice to catch an old episode every so often, it just feels wrong that it's there.

'High Stakes Poker''High Stakes Poker'
Why it doesn't fit: Because GSN at one time stood for "Game Show Network," and its programming still leans heavily towards game shows. From reruns of 'Match Game,' 'Family Feud' and 'Deal or No Deal' to originals like 'Baggage,' 'The Newlywed Game' and 'Lingo,' the channel has been about game shows since day one. 'Poker' isn't a game show; it's one of the many games around the dial where the audience watches a bunch of professional gamblers sit around playing poker.
Why is it there? This is a leftover from GSN's brief dalliance as the "network for games," where they tried to go away from pure game show programming and tried to incorporate all games. As the schedule now shows, that didn't work; the only remnants of that change are 'High Stakes Poker' and the video games on the GSN website.
(By the way, I would have put 'Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza' here, but it hasn't started yet.)

James Lipton'Inside the Actors Studio'
Why it doesn't fit: I mentioned this show in the "hanging on for dear life" category in last week's channel drift post. Even as the list of actors James Lipton has spoken to has skewed younger -- think James Franco and Bradley Cooper instead of Jack Lemmon and Robin Williams -- the show still has an erudite feel that just about the entire Bravo schedule -- except for maybe 'Top Chef' -- doesn't have. When the show started, it was paired with stage adaptations of Shakespeare. Now it's paired with 'The Real Housewives of New Jersey.'
Why is it there? To be honest, I'm not sure, and the next time I speak to Andy Cohen, it might be one of the first questions I ask. It's a good vehicle to hear an in-depth conversation with the big star of the moment. And Lipton has reached iconic enough status that he's been made fun of by Will Ferrel and Conan O'Brien. So maybe that's why.

WWE SmackDown'WWE SmackDown'
Why it doesn't fit: Even with the transformation of "SciFi" to "SyFy," the presence of 'SmackDown' is still a head scratcher. Even in SyFy's new lineup of science fiction shows, cheesy monster movies and science-y reality shows like 'Marcel's Quantum Kitchen' and 'Face Off,' 'Smackdown' still has problems looking like it fits in. Sure, it's fantasy, but it's fantasy of a completely different kind than we see on SyFy. Even 'Scare Tactics' fits better than this show.
Why is it there? Synergy. The WWE plays to big ratings on SyFy's corporate cousin USA, and there might be a notion that science fiction fans might also be pro wrestling fans (based on the picture at right, maybe they have the right idea). Now that the NBC Universal cable roster has been expanded by the Comcast merger, can the WWE on G4 or E! be that out of the realm of possibility?

'The Celebrity Apprentice''The Celebrity Apprentice'
CNBC (reruns of the NBC crazy-fest)
Why it doesn't fit: It's a boardroom full of has-been celebrities making pizza or outfitting RVs on a channel that usually talks about why you should be investing in Google. You tell me why it doesn't fit.
Why is it there? Well, Donald Trump is a real estate mogul, so there's that... The regular 'Apprentice' seemed like a better fit because the contestants were real businesspeople competing for a real position with Trump. But how La Toya Jackson making pizza relates to real business is beyond me. This is another case of corporate synergy run amok.

'Star Trek: The Next Generation''Star Trek: The Next Generation'
BBC America
Why it doesn't fit: It's an American series, with a (mostly) American cast. It was seen in American syndication for seven years and in reruns for many years after that. BBC America is supposed to be the UK state network's way of bringing its best shows to American audiences and to slaking our unquenchable thirst for everything 'Doctor Who.' Even the reruns of the FOX version of 'Kitchen Nightmares' fit better because at least it was based on a British series.
Why is it there? Because Jean-Luc Picard has a British accent? Just because a show has Patrick Stewart in it doesn't mean it's British.

Tell us: What show do you think doesn't belong on its cable station?

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