According to Wired News TechTV fans are “mad as hell” about the recent merger of that network with Comcast’s G4 gaming channel. No word on if they’re “not gonna take it anymore.”
The dissent appears to come from a wide variety of people with a mix of backgrounds and interests. What they share is a sense of loss, the severing of a connection to a network they depended on for tips, tech help and entertainment. TechTV’s shows and website, which has a monthly average of 1.9 million unique visitors, filled the gap for those without an IT department.
They don’t like the new name, the website, the mix of programming, the loss of Call for Help hosted by Laporte, the error message that pops up when they try to reach the TechTV archives, the emphasis on games and the appeal to a younger audience.
I’ve been watching the channel since the merger and I’m not as upset with it as I was back when I first heard the announcement. X-Play made the transition with its hosts intact (for the moment at least) and Fresh Gear is still going strong. I still can’t stand the game review shows done by Tommy Tallarico Studios Inc. (The Electric Playground and Judgment Day) mainly because of host Tommy Tallarico himself who, while he has an impressive set of credentials, still strikes me as an idiot. His co-host on these shows, Victor Lucas, who created The Electric Playground is pleasant enough though. I think my problem with Tommy is the fact that the shows feel like they’re aimed at a much younger audience yet the humor Tommy tends to use is aimed at an older audience. Not that X-Play hasn’t had its share of bawdy humor, but that show doesn’t feel like it’s aimed at 14 year-olds. Still, Tommy and Victor are much improved from when I first encountered their show on Discovery Science Channel and they do have some impressive special effects for a review show. It also says something about their reviews that I’m actually watching their shows at all. Pulse isn’t bad as a news-style show about games and I enjoyed the one episode of Icons I saw where they talked about the career of Trip Hawkins.
There are several other shows on the channel that left me less than impressed: Cheat covers cheat codes for various games and I generally avoid those until I’m seriously desperate. Arena was somewhat interesting for the first couple of episodes, but a show that tries to turn video games into a spectator sport holds about as much appeal to me as regular old fashioned spectator sports shows (read: none). I just don’t understand the point of Cinematech. At first it appeared to be a half-hour of various game intros or trailers for upcoming games, but then they also showed trailers and intros for games that came out ten years ago and some of the bits were just footage of someone playing a game set to some generic techno music that had nothing to do with the game itself. When they showed footage from Magic Carpet, which was released back in 1994, I was left scratching my head as to why. The show named for their website, G4TV.com, is just asinine, Players is flat-out boring as I couldn’t give a shit about what games rich and famous people like to play and Sweat falls into the same category as Arena. Everything else that didn’t come over from TechTV I haven’t seen yet so I can’t comment on other than to say none of them strike me as being so compelling that I’d bother to make a point to watch them. Well, maybe Game Gods and Filter might be worth looking into.
In all fairness I should point out that of the TechTV shows that are still running I’ve never been a fan of Robot Wars, Future Fighting Machines, Body Hits, or Nerd Nation. Occasionally Secret, Strange, & True will have something interesting on such as the episode of the BBC’s show Horizons where James Randi helped test the claims of homeopathy, but the show has a stupid title and most episodes don’t catch my interest. I must agree with the fact that the G4TechTV.com website sucks ass, but the old TechTV website wasn’t anything to write home about in my opinion either. The few times I tried to locate info from X-Play on the old site was a lesson in frustration.
Overall the merger has given me a couple of more shows to watch on occasion, though I still tend to stick to X-Play and Fresh Gear, and I’m not as annoyed as I would have been had they trashed the hosts from the TechTV shows they brought over. It’s a shame that Leo Laporte and his Call for Help show wasn’t brought over, but I didn’t tend to watch it myself anyway so that’s not as much of a loss for me as it is others. Word from Leo’s blog is that he’s been hired to host Call for Help for G4TechTV Canada so it may end up back on the American channel before too long. I’m still not thrilled, but I’m not as pissed off as some folks it would seem.