Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi The Grid is Good; TV Guide Channel

By Devin D. O'Leary

FEBRUARY 23, 1999:  "There's never anything on television." You've heard it before. Hell, you may even have said it before. But to a hardened couch potato such as myself, a statement like that amounts to one thing--blasphemy! There's always something on TV. I can't guarantee there's anything good on, but there's always something on.

A well-seasoned remote jockey can spend a good half hour just flipping through the channels looking for something to watch. Even if you don't find anything, a half hour has passed, and a whole new line-up of shows is about to start. Of course, if flipping through the channels is too much effort, you can always turn to the Preview Channel for guidance. "Matlock" starts at 11. MTV is showing a "Real World" marathon tonight. WGN has the second half of an old Don Knotts movie on right now!

I'll let you in on a little secret, though: The Preview Channel is actually the ace in the hole for any true television addict. I can spend hours watching its soothing blue grid of viewing possibilities scrolling slowly past, allowing the rapid-fire preview clips and bouncy theme music to trip off the neurons in my brain. Yes, I'll be the first to come out of the closet and admit it: The Preview Channel is TV's guiltiest pleasure.

Don't you deny it either. You've lingered long and hard on more than one occasion. Maybe you told yourself you were just waiting for the AMC listing to roll back around, but you were secretly letting that endless blue grid lull you into a special Zen-like state of oneness with the Great Cathode Ray God.

Late last month, however, my cosmology was shaken when it was announced that the Preview Channel would be taken over by the TV Guide Channel. It's not that I don't trust TV Guide. (Although they did once dub Mark Russell "the funniest man on television.") It's just that I feared for the loss of my beloved blue scroll.

My fears, it seems, were unfounded. After a couple weeks of keeping a suspicious eyeball on the new TV Guide Channel, I'm happy to report that little has changed. The on-screen logo may be different, but the blue grid underneath and the mind-numbing repetition above that we've all grown to know and love are firmly intact. TV Guide seems to be interested in airing more "behind the scenes" sort of clips and initially appeared to have formed a dangerous obsession with Annie Potts. A behind-the-scenes interview on the set of her Lifetime show "Any Day Now" ran every few minutes for the first couple weeks, but seems to have slacked off. Aside from a few other minor cosmetic changes, our beloved Preview Channel lives on in both form and spirit.

So just keep in mind during those long, barren TV watching nights: The TV Guide Channel is like an old friend--it's there if you ever need it.


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