Thursday, January 7, 2016

Heroes & Idols

I found a new channel the other day on U-verse. It was a Sunday early morning before the news and political panel shows come on. Talk about a TV wasteland, there are infomercials on about 90% of the channels and another 9.9% of crap. So, I started scrolling through the onscreen TV guide and noticed a program called Stagecoach West on a channel I wasn't familiar with the initials H&I. I wasn't familiar with the program either but figured it was a western. The description confirmed that and one of the stars was Wayne Rogers so I gave it a try. It was a typical 60's western, not bad, certainly better than an infomercial for some miracle product. 

This surprise find led me to dig further into the H&I program guide. Turns out the full name is Heroes & Icons Network and it airs almost entirely old TV shows. A lot of westerns and cop shows. I don't know when U-verse added this channel, but it is fine with me. I'd much rather watch an old Wanted: Dead Or Alive episode than some fake reality show. Steve McQueen will always be way cooler than any Kardashian. There is a treasure trove of pretty good old series on H&I. I'm sure I'll be tuning in again during those TV wasteland times. 
I did check out a couple of Hill Street Blues episodes the other night. Hard to believe that show premiered over 30 years ago. Remember how groundbreaking it was. It holds up pretty well, but that precinct station was an overcrowded mess. Detective Mick Belzer (Bruce Weitz) is a trip. Joyce Davenport (Veronica Hamel) was a sexy babe. Lots of other interesting characters too. Just watching a couple or three episodes made me realize that it was more serial chapters than individual self-contained installments. One week builds on the next and there was even the brief "on previous episodes" update at the beginning of each new episode. Don't see that much anymore but it used to be a staple of TV. BTW, the Hill Street Blues theme is a Mike Post classic. 

One other observation, there are at least a couple of World War II shows on. I caught part of Combat! and noticed Twelve O'Clock High airs on H&I too. Not many war shows on these days. I think the real video from Vietnam killed that genre except for M*A*S*H which was a comedy about the Vietnam War set in the Korean War. 

I know this new H&I Network is aimed at aging baby boomers, probably mostly the males. Perfect. Have I mentioned that I am a male, aging baby boomer. Many of these shows aired during my youth. Even though I am familiar with most of the programs, the demands of school and youth social life prevented me from seeing all the episodes so the shows are new. More accurately, I have forgotten most of what I did see 50+ years ago. 

I must admit that I don't think I ever saw Stagecoach West when it originally aired in 1961. A check with some of my contemporaries indicated a high percentage of them don't remember the series either. My hunch is that we were all watching The Red Skelton Show which aired at the same time. That's what my parents watched. In the 50's and 60's there was usually only one TV in the house and dad controlled it. I mean, he chose what we watched. Kids actually functioned as the remote control. Dad would tell a kid what channel and we would actually turn the tuner on the TV set to that station. We also performed volume control duties and adjusted the rabbit ears when necessary.

If you like old TV, check out your TV provider to see if H&I is available. I give it a 


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