In the 80's to mid-90's, and possibly still today, if you were a cable television subscriber, it was not uncommon to sit down after a hard day's work (or in my case, school), sit down and flip on the television, and find out that where there was once MTV, there now plays Lifetime. Where there was Lifetime, there's now ESPN. Where there was ESPN is now the public access channel, and so on. This caused much confusion and many furious calls to the cable company screaming "what the hell happened to my damm cable"?! And then you find out that they merely just rearranged all the channels for some inexpicable reason. So now you have to re-learn all your favorite channels that are now scattered randomly across the dial, and by the time you've figured out and gotten used to the lineup that they forced you to learn, they go ahead and rearrange them all over again!
This happened a lot with my cable TV(I had Falcon Cable, which became Continental, then Cencom, then Crown, then finally Charter Communications) and I remember the first time they did it, they ran this 30-minute infomercial explaining the total lineup change as a exciting new innovation to your cable television experience! And they ran it on the PPV previews channel ad nauseum for two months! I came across it when I turned to Ch. 44 for Nickelodeon to watch You Can't Do That On Television, and got a screen full of snow. I was trying to find out what happened to it when I tuned in to a channel that was showing this infomercial. It started with this whiter-than-white-Wonder-bread perfect family all sitting on the couch in front of their TV arguing over what to watch for the night. Suddenly, this booming voice out of nowhere exclaims, "YOUR CABLE TV JUST GOT BETTER!!!", and then confetti exploded from the ceiling, flashing lights and loud arcade noises blared everywhere, and them this guy in a full tuxedo comes out and gives this overblown ad pitch about the exciting changes in their cable. The family ooohs and aaahs as the guy shows them where all their channels have been moved. Now I was only about 10-11 years old when this happened, and I had no idea shit like this went on all the time with all the cable companies, or why they actually did it, but I was so intrigued by the whole thing that I ended up watching the same show over and over again! I even recorded the damm thing. Looking back, I realize what a ridiculous thing it was for the cable company to suddenly switch all the channels for no good reason, and try to pass it off as a major ground-breaking event! But that show has always stuck in my memory, and I'd probably still be watching it if I hadn't recorded it on Beta.
To end this write-up, I have included a partial transcript of this program that I wrote from memories of the show. However, I had to take a few liberties with the script as advanced age and alcohol abuse have dimmed my memory somewhat, but this should give you an idea of what the program was like:
Interior of an average suburban home. A husband and wife and their two children, a boy and a girl, all sit around the couch. They're trying to decide what to watch on television.
DAD:Well, what are we gonna watch tonight, everybody?
GIRL:I wanna watch Disney Channel!
DAD: Say, there’s a good documentary on bugs on the Discovery Channel!
GIRL: No, I wanna watch Mickey Mouse!
BOY: MTV, Dad.
DAD: We’re not watching that crap, son.
GIRL: I wanna watch Nickelodeon!
MOM: Say honey, wasn’t there a great show on Court TV tonight?
DAD: What the hell is Court TV?
MOM: Oh, sorry, wrong decade, honey.
BOY: Da-a-a-a-ad! MTV!
DAD: Shut up, son. We’re all gonna watch the Discovery Channel, so sit there and like it.
The sounds of giggling girls and sexual moaning can be heard from the TV.
DAD: Aaaagh! What the hell? Why is the Playboy Channel on Discovery?
MOM: Quick, turn it to Disney!!
VOICE FROM TV: “Let me now tell you all about ‘scanning’. KABOOOM!”
GIRL: SCREAM! SCREAM!
BOY: Cool! That guy’s head exploded on Disney!
DAD: This isn’t Disney, it’s Cinemax, and they’re showing “Scanners”! What the fuck’s wrong with the cable?!
MOM: Turn it to Nickelodeon, quick, honey! Our little girl's scared to death!
GIRL: Mommy, is my head going to explode?
We hear nothing but the sound of snow.
DAD: Ok, that’s it. I’m calling Falcon Cable right now and canceling.
VOICE FROM NOWHERE: STOP! YOUR CABLE TV JUST GOT BETTER!
A cloud of confetti comes down on the panicking family. Several flashing lights, bells and whistles follow. Suddenly a strange man in a tuxedo appears on camera.
MOM: Aaagh! Who’s that man?!
GIRL: Is he gonna make my head explode?
BOY: Make her head explode, dude!
MAN IN TUXEDO: YES, THE GOOD PEOPLE AT FALCON CABLE, IN ORDER TO PROVIDE A MORE EXCITING LINEUP OF PROGRAMMING, HAVE REARRANGED ALL THE CHANNELS! NOW INSTEAD OF WATCHING NICKELODEON ON CHANNEL 44, YOU CAN WATCH IT ON CHANNEL 20! INSTEAD OF WATCHING THE DISNEY CHANNEL ON CHANNEL 27, YOU CAN WATCH IT ON CHANNEL 14! INSTEAD OF WATCHING ESPN ON CHANNEL 6, NOW YOU CAN SEE IT ON CHANNEL 37! PLUS YOU CAN SEE ALL YOUR OTHER FAVORITE CHANNELS IN NEW PLACES THAT WILL MAKE YOUR LIFE FUN AND WORTHWHILE!! (more confetti falls; the lights and noises get louder) YES, FALCON CABLE IS NOW MORE EXCITING THAN EVER! AaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA*pop!*
The man's head inflates at a rapid speed and explodes, spilling skull and brains all over the family.
GIRL: SCREAM! MOMMY! HELP! THAT MAN’S HEAD EXPLODED TOO!
DAD: I’m still canceling. *ring-ring!* (talking into phone) Hello, Falcon Cable? Yes I want our service canceled immediately. If I wanted this kind of shit, I’d go back to Select TV, for Christ’s sake.