I am old enough to remember when there was only one HBO.
Who am I kidding?
I'm old enough to remember when "remote control" meant my brothers telling me to get up and change the channel for them. I'm old enough to remember not having a color television. I'm old enough to remember the Brady Bunch going off the air, the introduction of the Big Wheel, banana seat bikes, Romper Room, and one-foot tall GI Joe action figures who always stole Barbie's heart away from that pretty boy Ken.
Back to the point, we got our first taste of HBO when our family joined the great Cable-TV Nation in the early 1980s. Almost immediately, I was disappointed. I took the name Home Box Office literally.
When did you ever go to the movie theater to see a boxing match? When did you go to the movie theater to see original made-for-TV movies? When did you go to the movie theater to watch back-to-back episodes of Fraggle Rock?
When they finally did clear their programming of all their homemade piffle, the movies they did show were mostly crap. And, Lord help us if they actually got the rights to a decent film, it would be featured every other night for the entire month in which it premiered, sandwiched between the 400th showings of "Beastmaster" and "Zapped!"
But that was thirty years ago. Surely HBO has changed for the better since then. Right? There are, like, one-hundred-eighty-seven different HBO channels now. I find myself thinking, every now and then, that maybe I should break down and give it another try. Then I stay in a hotel.
Doesn't matter what hotel, either, since most of them offer the same limited selection of channels that always seems to include HBO1 and HBO2. You'd think these channels would vary their programming a little to offer some variety and get people interested in purchasing HBO for their home systems. You'd be wrong.
Every time I travel, no matter what city I find myself in, HBO1 and HBO2 are broadcasting the same shows, usually an hour apart from each other. First HBO1 shows Real Time With Bill Maher, then HBO2. First HBO1 shows a sports talk show about boxing, then HBO2. First HBO1 shows Deadwood, or Big Love, or True Blood, or any of its other simplistically awful soap operas that everybody but me seems to go crazy over, then HBO2.
I'm wondering how many more decades it will take before HBO decides to show a movie during primetime.
© 2011 Mark Feggeler