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The History Channel: As Told By Those Who Watch It


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#1

GeoBQn

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Posted Dec 8, 2007 @ 11:52 PM

Since there are catch-all threads for networks like The Food Network and Adult Swim and there are few threads for the individual shows, I thought I'd start a thread for the greatest channel in history (or not), the History Channel. I have become disenchanted with the channel, since most of the programming now deals with the military, technology, or UFO's. Don't get me started on Ice Road Truckers, if it's happening now, then as far as I'm concerned it's not history. I can't believe they've run out of historical topics to explore when they have 10,000+ years of material to work with. Have most of the historical programs moved to channels like History Channel International? My dad, a retired 7th grade history teacher, also made an interesting complaint about the channel. He said most programs and specials they had weren't suitable for classroom viewings because they were too long and they tried to grab the audience's interest by discussing inappropriate topics, like how many prostitutes Ben Franklin had. That being said, my favorite programs are:

-The KKK: A Secret History--I was watching this once with a friend from Indiana and when they interviewed an Imperial Grand Wizard from Butler, IN she shouted "That's 20 minutes from my house!"
-History of Sex--always good for slightly racy late-night viewing and random tidbits.
-Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How They Got That Way--Very interesting and gives a new prospective on drug laws, since many were enacted due to economics or racist attitudes.
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#2

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Posted Dec 9, 2007 @ 1:21 AM

I agree. It also seems that every month they're sure to schedule a "Doomsday Week." Can future cataclysms really be considered "history?"

I feel like the Discovery Channel has really gotten back on track in the last year or two with a focus on nature or science-based shows, and they've found great success in doing so. So why has History gotten so far off course? Even when their focus was Nazis and WWII, at least it was relevant to the theme of the network. Sasquatch hunting? Not so much.
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#3

Green Ajah

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Posted Dec 9, 2007 @ 4:12 PM

I'd like to declare this channel the "Hitler Channel" since for a long time I'd turn it on and it would always be something to do with WWII. It seems lately it isn't as bad that way, so yay! I love "Wild West Tech" among many other shows.
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#4

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Posted Dec 9, 2007 @ 8:30 PM

I'd like to declare this channel the "Hitler Channel" since for a long time I'd turn it on and it would always be something to do with WWII.


I also used to complain about the "Hitler Channel" as well, but now I consider that era as the History Channel's golden age. Now it seems that the only Hitler show they show is the one exploring whether or not he was a drug addict.

Modern Marvels puzzles me as well. They really have some stinkers (anyone remember the "garage gadgets" episode, where the spent a good twenty minutes on the garage door opener?), and some other topics that could be considered modern only in the geologic sense (the pyramids are a modern marvel???).

It seems they air their best shows in the wee hours. I like the reruns of History IQ and the old Vietnam documentaries they show early on Sunday morning. The History Channel Classroom is pretty good on weekday mornings; they tend to actually be history, and they are aired without commercials.

I miss the old Year by Year shows where the put together a bunch of newsreels from the year in question.
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#5

Kev

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Posted Dec 10, 2007 @ 12:44 AM

I miss the old Year by Year shows where the put together a bunch of newsreels from the year in question.


They show that on Saturday mornings on History International, a channel I prefer to HC.
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#6

dagny

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Posted Dec 10, 2007 @ 10:22 AM

I caught part of the weapons of the Waffen SS last night on HI. The description of the episode promised to touch on the their advanced weaponry and also their fanaticism. I thought this would be a little different. The parts I was able to stick around for was just the really nice weapons, nothing about the people or the "fanaticism". Gah. Just like the top ten artillery weapons.

I agree that the doomsday episodes are annoying. What I would really love would be a topic on the doomsday belief of the different religions.
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#7

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Posted Dec 10, 2007 @ 3:59 PM

I miss the old Year by Year shows where the put together a bunch of newsreels from the year in question.

They show that on Saturday mornings on History International, a channel I prefer to HC.

I too prefer History International; unfortunately, I don't get it. :(
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#8

Kev

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Posted Dec 11, 2007 @ 2:00 AM

Do you not get History International or do you not have digital cable?

I fall asleep to HI and then I set my box to go to either to the Science Channel of the Military Channel for the rest of the night. The National Geographic Channel is a good one too.

I try to convince myself that I'm learning things while I'm sleeping.

There are times that I program it to the History Channel but that's only when it's Classroom, or something really good they're showing.

Edited by Kev, Dec 11, 2007 @ 2:10 AM.

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#9

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Posted Dec 11, 2007 @ 11:20 AM

Do you not get History International or do you not have digital cable?


I have Dish Network, and can't quite afford the package that includes History International.

Did anyone happen to see Tom Brokaw's show on 1968 on Sunday? I thought it was pretty good. Every once in a while, the HC can get its act together and produce something worthwhile. Some things I've liked in the last few years were The Revolution, the show on the French Revolution, Russia - land of the Tsars, and the Sherman March to the Sea show.

I like The Universe, too, although it seems like an odd fit for the History channel. I suppose it works if by 'history' they mean anything that happened in the past, but I usually thing of 'history' as the study of the past that has to do with humans.
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#10

Kev

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Posted Dec 11, 2007 @ 10:28 PM

I saw a documentary about Andrew Jackson that was pretty good.
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#11

BDasus353

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Posted Dec 12, 2007 @ 2:52 PM

Ahhh, I was looking for one of these on the History Channel and here we are.

I think the channel has gone way downhill. All I seem to see on anymore is Modern Marvels. While it's an okay program, it has seemed to have taken over the network. Although I suppose it's better than, as my father would say, All World War 2 all the time. I love the HC Classroom. The best was waking up one morning, turning on the TV, and seeing an old newsreel from 1960 with a segment on my aunt going through training for the 1960 Winter Olympics.

There have been some decent shows on the channel though. Some of my favorites:

Hooked: Illegal Drugs - For pretty much the same reasons as GeoBQn.
The Crusades
The Revolution
Ancient Discovories - the ones on Galen and Heron particularly.
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#12

bimbo du jour

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Posted Dec 12, 2007 @ 3:52 PM

I, too, prefer History International, but I've noticed a lot of crossover programming between channels, so it's difficult to say. I really enjoyed "The Battle for Rome," but it was a BBC production. I also caught it on the Military channel.

I think History has tried some reality programming ("Ice Road Truckers") because it's inexpensive to produce compared to regular, scripted programming. They have to pay the bills, too.
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#13

radicalmoderate

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Posted Dec 12, 2007 @ 4:24 PM

I love the History Channel! Well parts of it anyway.

The History Channel Classroom is pretty good on weekday mornings; they tend to actually be history, and they are aired without commercials.

I often watch this in the morning. Althougth I always wonder what classroom is airing this at 5 a.m.?

My favorites are 'Hooked : Illegal Drugs' and 'Secret History of the KKK'. I especially love that last one because they tell the story about a mother who sued the KKK in the 80's. She won and all they owned to pay her with was a big old building and several acres of ground it sat on. Right at the end the narrator says something like, 'In the end the deed to the National Headquarters of America's strongest KKK was owned by a black woman.'. Such sweet revenge. I love it because I know it drives those racist Nazis crazy.

I also really like that 'Rum Runners and Bootleggers' one. I actually bought that and 'Hooked'. I also bought that series of mini biographies called 'The Presidents'. That was great.

Isn't this the channel that was going to do a similar mini-series called 'The States'? I saw like one episode and then never saw it again. What happened to that?

Hate 'Ice Road Truckers'.
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#14

dagny

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Posted Dec 12, 2007 @ 8:44 PM

For a while History International felt like the British Empire History channel with all of the topics either in England, or one of her territories.
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#15

Kev

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Posted Dec 18, 2007 @ 5:19 AM

Isn't this the channel that was going to do a similar mini-series called 'The States'?


The States mini-series has been played sporadically on the channel for a couple of years now.
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#16

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Posted Dec 19, 2007 @ 4:26 PM

"Ice Road Truckers"...Should be on Discovery alongside "Deadliest Catch".

"Human Weapon"...Don't know where that should be, but sure as heck NOT on THC.

"Forrest Gump"...See above.

The show I miss most on THC? "Trains Unlimited", and I'm not even really a railroad buff. Can't imagine how much those folks miss it.

Someone mentioned the KKK grand whatever from Butler, Indiana. He held a rally several years ago in front of our courthouse here in NW Ohio. Creep. I did learn something from the KKK documentary, though...The state with the highest Klan membership back in the 20s was not one of the southern states you'd guess, but Indiana.

I don't know if there's a "Whatever Happened To" thread anywhere, but THC used to show these cheesy "Untold Stories Of The FBI" shows. One was about Anthony Kiritsis, who made the national news in 1977 when he held a real estate executive hostage for several days in Indianapolis. He was played by an unrecognizable, fat, much older Gary Sandy (Andy from "WKRP In Cincinnati".) Wow.
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#17

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Posted Dec 20, 2007 @ 5:17 PM

I agree that I don't watch THC as much as I used to. I will concur that I am a huge fan of Ancient Discoveries. I actually like "Unsolved History" which has been shown most often on the Discovery/Times channel.
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#18

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Posted Dec 21, 2007 @ 4:57 PM

"Ice Road Truckers"...Should be on Discovery alongside "Deadliest Catch".

"Human Weapon"...Don't know where that should be, but sure as heck NOT on THC.

"Forrest Gump"...See above.


I agree, with the exception of Forrest Gump. It's a bit of a stretch, but it is a sort of whirlwind tour of recent history. I can understand the objection, but it does fall in to the genre of "microcosm of history as seen through X." I don't remember if FG was part of the Movies in Time series, but I do enjoy when the house historians comment during the commercial breaks. I often wonder how close movies are to actual history, and usually I don't take the time to track down the truth myself.

One show I hate is "History's Lost and Found." It really strikes me a fluff. There will be a (way too) short story about a topic, and then the story of how some minor relic got passed around and finally ended up in some museum in Timbuktu or wherever.
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#19

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Posted Dec 21, 2007 @ 11:38 PM

One show I hate is "History's Lost and Found." It really strikes me a fluff.


I agree that HL&F is fluffy, but I'd still rather watch that than Ice Road Truckers or Human Weapon or 85% of whatever is on the Discovery Channel. I don't watch live television very much anymore. I just load up the DVR and watch what I want, when I want. HL&F is not going to be recorded for future viewing, but if I happen to see that it is on I might switch over to it and let it run in the background while I do some chore.

Most of my DVR recordings come from the History Channel, the Military Channel, and History International. I'd be very happy if I could find a channel that was devoted solely to black and white military film of the first half of the 20th century. Any army, any country, any action, doesn't matter, just run some black and white film with stuff getting shot up and blown up and I am happier than a pig in . . .
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#20

radicalmoderate

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Posted Dec 22, 2007 @ 9:46 AM

HL&F is not going to be recorded for future viewing, but if I happen to see that it is on I might switch over to it and let it run in the background while I do some chore.

Thats exactly how I treat it. Its certainly not appointment TV but, every once in a while I hear some fascinating tidbit and its better than half the drivel thats on TV. And at least it surely has a history perspective.

You guys have me analyzing every show and trying to evaluate whether it belongs on the channel. I was watching Mega Disasters the other day and have determined that its ok to stay because basically they are reviewing a historical disaster for most of the time. Only at the end do they bleed over into some sci-fi version of future predictions and simulations.

But I agree with Human Weapon, just don't get why thats on here.
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#21

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Posted Dec 22, 2007 @ 5:55 PM

I was watching Mega Disasters the other day and have determined that its ok to stay because basically they are reviewing a historical disaster for most of the time. Only at the end do they bleed over into some sci-fi version of future predictions and simulations.


I'm okay with Mega Disasters as well. It's a bit of applied history (if such a thing exists); it uses history to spin a cautionary tale. I'm certainly not moving to the foot of Vesuvius or Krakatoa now.
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#22

neglander

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Posted Dec 24, 2007 @ 3:33 PM

I agree with everyone on here that this channel has gone downhill. I was watching Movies in Time one Sunday morning when they showed Mad Max and before the movie started Steve Gillion (I think thats his name) said that at intermission they would discuss the historical significance of the movie. I nearly fell off my sofa when I heard that.

I will admit that it has improved a little bit this year in fact just last night they showed programs about the Lincoln and Kennedy assinations.
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#23

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Posted Dec 25, 2007 @ 7:48 PM

He said most programs and specials they had weren't suitable for classroom viewings because they were too long and they tried to grab the audience's interest by discussing inappropriate topics, like how many prostitutes Ben Franklin had.

Gotta disagree with some of this, though I guess it would totally depend on if you are talking about college level (real history, as I consider it, as someone with a history degree, hee!) and below that (rote memorization of dry dates). An hour long show without commercials would be just a bit more than 40 minutes, which is totally viewable in a class. I guess if all you want to do is memorize dates or cover the same few wars over and over, just about any show would be inappropriate for a classroom. However, social history and the reasons behind WHY people do what they do, who they really were, what it was like to live in a certain time is very fitting for a college level class.

OTOH, many History Channel shows are sadly short on facts to back up what is presented, especially in the more offbeat shows. You couldn't show them in a class because many are either very elementary, if you already know the topic, or lacking key facts. Or the "expert" presenters are completely dismissed by the academic community as uneducated kooks, and their theories can be easily disproven. I wish their relative credibility would be pointed out in the shows. Another huge pet peeve is how in just about any show on a pre-20th century topic, random artwork from the time or about the time is used to illustrate the narrative. So often they'll mention some person and flash on artwork, like it's of that person, but it's really totally unrelated. And most of the audience probably doesn't get that.

That said, I still love some shows, though many actually show up on History Internation or Biography these days. But every once in a while there's something really new on, like presenting new discoveries or theories, that's also really well done and it gets me all excited for the channel again.
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#24

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Posted Dec 27, 2007 @ 11:15 PM

While I agree that the history focus on THC has declined, and I'm pretty sick of the umpteen showings of Modern Marvels every day, I love some of their newer programming. I adore all the cataclysm TV, especially Mega Disasters. (While I'm certainly no expert on Krakatoa, remember that one with James Woods that we all saw about a thousand times? Or, well, I did. And I was impressed that the Mega Disasters one about Krakatoa presented some things that I didn't know about Krakatoa.) I like when a show gives me a new tidbit.

I'm also really digging Monster Quest. I'm a sucker for cryptozoology, but I'm really tired of Nessie and Bigfoot. I've been surprised at some of the different things Monster Quest has treated. And yeah, it's not really history, not in the sense of ancient history or older American history, but I eat it up. (Then again, I like the UFO stuff, too, and my absolute favorite THC show is the old History's Mysteries that is now re-airing on History International.)

I like the space/space disaster (Asteroids Will Kill Us All!) ones, and I'm looking forward to How the Earth Was Made. I really like the geology documentaries, which Science Channel doesn't run much of any more.

Kev, I'm like you - I fall asleep to documentaries. The Science Channel stays on all night and doesn't switch to infomercials; I think THC has come back to airing real programming all night. "Nat Geo" (ugh - like it's so hard to say "National Geographic") is a good one, too, though around 6 a.m., they switch to infomercials, and that can tamper with my dreams a bit. Nobody wants to have a dream with Ron Popeil in it. I just turn my DVR loose with the science/history documentaries and let it catch what shows it will, and between THC and History International, National Geographic, and Science, it catches some good stuff. My most favorite sleep-TV, though, is History's Mysteries, the ones hosted by Arthur Kent, because I am absolutely soothed and lulled by the narrator's voice.
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#25

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Posted Dec 28, 2007 @ 12:49 AM

One show I hate is "History's Lost and Found." It really strikes me a fluff.

I can understand your point. I really like watching Lost & Found and Histories Mysteries though. I don't always want to watch some deep, involved hystorical event and these shows offer some interesting facts about small trivial things that wouldn't fit in a larger show if they were the sole topic.

There are some ideas that I wish they'd explore more. I came across an old, late 1930's Look Magazine about 15 years ago that had an ad for Heisey Crystal. In their ad they used a picture of Hitler. This was before America's involvement in the war and apparently Hitler had been badmouthing America in the press. The ad said something like "Hitler says that American Crystal is inferior but America has the BEST!". What made the ad even more surreal to me was that it was printed with those old style technicolor colors. So much has been written and discussed about the events of the war and after, but I haven't seen anything that has captured or tried to portray the feeling of living before the war started. I'm not talking just about the rationing of goods and the change in focus of the American workforce. I've seen shows like that. I want them to do a show from a slightly different perspective. I had never before heard or seen anything about Hitler taking verbal swipes at American made products.

Edited by SunShine Gal, Dec 28, 2007 @ 12:49 AM.

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#26

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Posted Dec 30, 2007 @ 7:03 PM

I'm also really digging Monster Quest. I'm a sucker for cryptozoology, but I'm really tired of Nessie and Bigfoot. I've been surprised at some of the different things Monster Quest has treated. And yeah, it's not really history, not in the sense of ancient history or older American history, but I eat it up. (Then again, I like the UFO stuff, too, and my absolute favorite THC show is the old History's Mysteries that is now re-airing on History International.)

I love Monster Quest as well. I am surprised that their are so many "monster" reports that I never heard of. My favorite on was the Giant Squid. I loved being able to see the squid on tape from below.

The other show I am watching is Lost Worlds. In this age of computer graphics, I really enjoy seeing what they reconstruct. I just saw the Deadwood episode and couldn't help but flash to the t.v. show. I couldn't stop laughing.
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#27

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Posted Jan 3, 2008 @ 9:39 AM

OK, after I go and publicly say that I like Monster Quest, they had to go and air the one about Russian Ape Men. And it was HORRIBLE. I know that it isn't hard science they're covering on any of these episodes, but last night's was worse than usual. The science was bad(der than usual) and the conclusions were... not there. It was just too flimsy to fill out an hour.

A couple of times the writing was unforgivably bad, like when they cut from JoJo the Dog Boy and said, "OTHER apes in Russia," or something like that, conflating his condition with whatever they were saying might have been going on in Russia. I mean, yeah, we're all technically apes, but aside from the fact that the kid had a hairy face, there was nothing more he had in common with the supposed ape men in Russia than any of us do. And then they said something about bonobos being like "other chimps." Aren't bonobos and chimps two separate species, and not two different classes of chimpanzees?

And when they were wrapping up the show, they had a graphic that showed "common ancestor" branching off into "apes" and "man," but they spelled "ancestor" as "ancester," which is just... no. I mean, come ON.

But I did get some good laughs out of the show, in a MST3K kind of way, from the superlative CGI they kept showing of the monkey army in Red Square, to the artist's rendering of an ape-man hybrid when they were talking about how warlike both chimps and humans are that looked INSANELY like George W. Bush, to the bald guy in a plaid shirt that they kept interviewing who sounded EXACTLY LIKE BORAT.

Edited by puckish, Jan 3, 2008 @ 9:41 AM.

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#28

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Posted Jan 10, 2008 @ 8:26 AM

I have become disenchanted with the channel, since most of the programming now deals with the military, technology, or UFO's.

This is the network that played the original Planet of the Apes movie, right? WTF?

I did enjoy their history of Russia, though.

Since I didn't see a separate topic for it, I watched MonsterQuest last night. I want my time back after watching them take 50 minutes to realize that "rods" (winged bars seen shooting across video footage) were the blurred images of bugs flying in front of the camera lens (or WERE they? *dramatic sting*) when that's the first thing I thought they were! They may as well play reruns of In Search of....

Edited by Gharlane, Jan 10, 2008 @ 8:31 AM.

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#29

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Posted Jan 10, 2008 @ 9:49 PM

I used to call the History Channel the War Channel or the Nazi Channel and just skipped by it but surprise, the other night were three space shows in a row. (Alien Moons, Gamma Ray Bursts, and Apollo 13). I'll watch those. If History Channel does less war and Nazis it's fine with me, I might see what it has more often.

Isn't Ice Road Truckers the most successful show the History Channel has ever had?

Deadliest Catch,” which is shown on the Discovery Channel, and “Ice Road Truckers,” on the History Channel, have become among the most popular programs on cable television. The finale of “Ice Road Truckers” attracted close to 5 million viewers.

Ratings bonanza.

Edited by buyitnow, Jan 10, 2008 @ 10:26 PM.

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#30

i am rick

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Posted Jan 11, 2008 @ 8:03 AM

If History Channel does less war and Nazis it's fine with me,

And if Burger King stops selling the Whopper, they might as well call it Burger Queen . . . wait for it . . . Yeah.

Black and White war footage IS The History Channel. I want more of it. 24/7 would be about right.
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