BBC America has been running ads for a new series set to begin next week.
When I say "new," I'm being a tad facetious. It's "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
Yes, BBC America is going to give up an hour's worth of programming during the day for a series that's more than 20 years old and is shown regularly on cable and syndicated outlets, including SyFy and WGN.
Except for two British castmembers, there's nothing "British" about it.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love me some "TNG," but when I tune into BBC America, I want to see British television that I can't see on this side of the pond. I'd like to see British sci-fi, such as "The Sarah Jane Adventures" or another season of "Primeval," which got axed shortly after the BBC sold the American rights.
BBC America is hardly alone with its identity crisis. The Cartoon Network features regular blocks of live-action programming, including "Office" reruns. It's called the CARTOON network, folks.
SyFy features WWE wrestling each week. I realize wrestlers tend to be comic bookish heroes and villains, but I think that's stretching things just a bit.
A&E once went by its full name, Arts & Entertainment, but the only "art" on the network is "Inked," a show about tattoos. Virtually everything on it is so-called reality programming.
The beauty of cable/satellite is that it is supposed to offer niche channels for fans of various genres and activities. Love to cook? There's the Food Network. Like to fish? Check out Outdoor Life. Racing enthusiasts can tune into Speed Vision. And so on and so on.
Yet now, cable networks are changing their own raison d'etre, the whole reason they were created in the first place. I can watch live action programming on any other of the 200 channels available; so let me watch animated programs on The Cartoon Network.
This past weekend, "Doctor Who" debuted its new season with the highest ratings ever achieved for BBC America. It's a distinctly British program with a fan base so rabid that its US fans often look for illegal downloads on the Internet just so they don't have to wait an extra few weeks to see it.
Do they sound like a group of people who want to see old US programming instead?
WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Hey Fox, if you are going to promote the hell out of "Glee," don't let "American Idol" run over so long that it cuts off the end of the episode for those of us who recorded it. Jerks. Tonight it's "AI" (Fox, 8 p.m.) again with its annual "give back" episode. Hey, what about giving me the last five minutes of "Glee" back? Jerks.
"Mercy" (NBC, 8 p.m.) is new, as is "Old Christine" and "Accidentally On Purpose" on CBS from 8-9 p.m.
Everything on the networks is pretty much reruns, except for the so-called reality stuff on The CW.
On cable, there's a new "In Plain Sight" (USA, 10 p.m.)
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