Sky TV's newest entertainment channel is launched today - Jones! makes its debut at 1pm with a range of classic television offerings, starting with Happy Days on launch, and running through Dad's Army, Open All Hours, Mission Impossible, Bionic Woman, Sledge Hammer, and much more, over the next week or so.
I'm sure plenty of viewers will drop in on the channel, see an old show that grabs their attention, and stick around for an episode or two. I'm planning to. A channel like this is designed to appeal to our nostalgia. "Oh, I used to love [insert show name]," potential viewers will say. "I'd love to see that again." I'm sure Jones! will pick up plenty of viewers in exactly this manner; similar channels overseas have done exactly that.
But it seems to me that a nostalgia-based channel is problematic: How many of these shows are actually going to be worth watching again? How many shows on the Jones! menu have withstood the test of time?*
There are a couple of indisputable classics on the launch schedule. Twin Peaks (Wednesdays, 8.30pm) is one of the greatest dramas ever made, a big influence on today's serial dramas. Cheers (weekdays, 8.05pm) is a classic comedy which is often cited as one of the best shows ever made; I had actually planned to start re-watching Cheers earlier this year, so Jones! has saved me that job, at least.
The schedule also boasts several great shows that are worth re-watching, though not quite at the level of those two. Saturday evenings are given over to three entries in the Star Trek universe: The Original Series (6.30pm), The Next Generation (7.30pm) and Deep Space Nine (8.30pm) have proven cult favourites over the years, and are always good for a watch.
Kojak (Fridays, 8.30pm) is a classic crime drama. Mork & Mindy (weekdays, 6.05pm) holds up, mostly due to Robin Williams' wackiness. And British comedies like It Ain't Half Hot Mum (weekdays, 7.30pm) and Porridge (Sundays, 9pm) are dated, but still provide a few belly laughs.
But there are plenty of shows on the schedule that I can't imagine myself watching. Is anybody really interested in Doogie Howser MD (weekdays, 5.05pm)? The sight of a young Neil Patrick Harris aside, that show was as gimmicky as anything you'll find. TJ Hooker (Tuesdays, 9.20pm) might be an exclusive for the channel, since it has never aired in New Zealand - but it's nearly as old as I am. And with the current fascination with dark, effects-heavy superhero flicks, how are Wonder Woman (Saturdays, 4.45pm) and The Incredible Hulk (Saturdays, 5.40pm) going to attract an audience?
Don't even get me started on over-repeated shows like The A Team, MacGyver, Happy Days, The Love Boat and The Brady Bunch. I'm not sure I could withstand a minute of any of those shows. And I used to love half of them. The only reason to watch them now would be to have a cringe.
Anyway, as you can see, Jones! launches with a mix of good and bad. The question now is whether you will tune in ...
What old shows are you looking forward to revisiting on Jones! channel, if any? Take a look at the full list and see what you think. And what good old shows - at least 20 years old - are missing from the lineup?
(*) The notion of nostalgia is flawed too: by definition, nostalgia is more about us than it is about any show (or movie, or album, or whatever). When we recall how much we loved an old show, we can actually be recalling how much we loved that time in our lives - we change over time, and our tastes change over time.
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