The Your-Name-Here Network
According to MediaWeek, cable channel TNN is changing its name.
I guess, upon further reflection, this news is not exactly shocking. TNN, after all, leads the league in name changes, having its letters stand for The Nashville Network back when the penny-ante cable channel was airing country music videos and tractor pulls to The National Network when the still penny-ante cable channel "upgraded" to airing Dukes of Hazzard reruns and tractor pulls. Once professional wrestling and Miami Vice reruns entered the mix, TNN decided to leave its hillbilly past completely behind when it redubbed itself The New TNN. The fact that the name change meant the cable channel was now referring to itself as The New The National Network, while grammatically imprecise, was not nearly so disturbing as the network's insistence that it was still The New TNN several years after the name change. And now, upon realizing after everyone else in America that The New TNN is pretty much The Same Old Lousy TNN, the brain trust running the drooling basic cable stepchild of the vast Viacom empire has changed the name of the channel once more to -- hold on to your hats, now -- Spike TV.
Those of you who had bet friends and loved ones that there couldn't possibly be a more idiotic name for a cable TV channel than The New TNN, please settle your debts.
Spike TV -- ponder it, behold it, swirl it around in your mouth like a flavorful yet impertinent cabernet before discharging it into the spit bucket. What does it mean? What does it stand for? Just what exactly does the new moniker presage about the tectonic shift in programming we can expect from the cable channel formerly known as TNN?
Shows about the Trans-Pacific Railroad and the metal rods used to connect the rails? Exciting reality programming about heartless editors putting the kibosh on substandard articles? All volleyball, all the time? A block of shows about pretty, pouty bleach-blonde vampires with faux British accents?
Oh God, no. Let's turn the podium over to TNN president Albie Hecht to explain just what the heck is going on.
"Spike TV captures the attributes and essence of what we want the first network for men to be," Hecht told MediaWeek. "It's unapologetically male; it's active; it's smart and contemporary with a personality that's aggressive and irreverent. This is a first major step in our journey to super-serving men in a way no one has done before."
Now, I hate to contradict Albie, a man who has clearly risen to the top of his profession through a combination of brains and guile, but I hear the words "Spike TV" and I don't think "unapologetically male," "active," "smart," "contemporary" or any of the other buzzwords some tool-using primate in the Viacom marketing department strung together. No, the words I associate with Spike TV are more along the lines of "pathetic," "sputtering," "horrible focus-group-derived thinking" and "vaguely sad." Also, I'm not exactly sure what Albie means by "super-serving men" but I think there are some movies dealing with the subject behind the red curtain in the back room at my local video rental store.
But really, I want to help Albie, not hurt him. And if I'm going to take the time to heap well-deserved ridicule and derision upon his network's new name, the least I can do is come up with an alternative that meets the twin objectives of promoting Spike TV's male-focused programming while sparing the network the embarrassment that comes from a having a name that sounds like it was selected at random during a game of Boggle.
Now my first choice, Your Home for Baywatch Reruns, certainly captures the spirit of Spike TV's programming mission. But it lacks the punchiness and pithiness that looks so good on T-shirts and souvenir coffee mugs. Likewise, Grunt and Scratch TV -- GSTV, for short -- shouts out "Young males, tune in!" but I worry that viewers might easily confuse it with HGTV and tune in expecting to see Martha Stewart decorating a credenza only to find The Rock smashing a folding chair over the head of Bill Goldberg. Not that the two programs aren't similar, but still, confused viewers might be easily disappointed.
So I was about to throw up my hands and admit that maybe Albie Hecht was right. Maybe Spike TV was the best possible choice for a network trying to sate the public's hunger for episodes of Blind Date and Real TV. Then, just as things looked their bleakest, it hit me -- the perfect successor for TNN/The New TNN/Spike TV. A name that captures the network's spirit, its divine spark, its raison dêtre.
Think about it. It's perfect. It's punchy. It says all there is to say about TNN's place in the cable universe. And it achieves three goals in one fell swoop: 1) It lures viewers in with the promise of partial nudity; 2) It more or less perfectly describes the channel's target demographic; and 3) If Albie Hecht is any indication, Ass TV does a pretty good job describing the people running the network, too.
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