Mar 13, 2008

They Can't Take That Away From Me

  I'm not really sure what to do with myself. My TCM is gone.
  That means no more midnight Rick and Ilsa, no more random Dogville shorts, no more tuning in to Van Johnson movies on a Saturday morning and trying furiously to deny a crush on host Ben Mankiewicz. Cable television giant Cox Communications, my local provider, gave me and thousands of other subscribers the cold shoulder last week when they removed Turner Classic Movies from their standard cable lineup, and, like many of my movie-loving brethren, I was more than shocked to turn to my favorite channel and, instead of winding down to an obscure Marsha Hunt-June Allyson weepie, find a blank screen where Robert Osborne used to be.

  TCM has been my main source of film knowledge, insight, and viewing since my first interest in the medium over a decade ago, so to lose it in all of its self-supporting, commercial-free Technicolor splendor is a genuine disappointment. It's true that a considerable part of TCM's film catalogue has been recently released in dvd format, making many movies far more readily available to the public than ever before - but thousands of additional titles have been relegated to a completely hopeless state of being unworthy of even a VHS release. TCM is, truly, the only way to see the full filmographies of all your favorite stars of the silver screen, introduce you to new faces and names, and generally indulge any classic movie maven in their photoplay pastime.

  I've already launched a campaign to return my beloved network to the basic cable tier, penning letters, writing e-mail, leaving irate but articulate voicemails at appropriate desks and even, in a moment of caprice, accosting some Cox installation men I encountered at work. Why must you take my Cyd Charisse and Arthur Freed and Hermes Pan away - can't you take one of my seventeen Spanish-language soccer channels? seems to be my lingering question to all of them, though of course, I phrase it a bit more appropriately when addressing the bigwigs.

  Of course, I could always succumb to pressure and order more expensive cable service so as to re-instate the divinity that is TCM's 24-hour classic movie lineup. But it's the principle of the fight, and for now, I'll adhere to it blindly. It's just the Mr. Smith Goes To Washington in me.

Has TCM been removed from your channel lineup? If so, will its absence prompt you to upgrade your service just to access it again? If not, would you be upset if you no longer had TCM as part of your cable programming?