Friday, October 14, 2011

Harvest: Ax Men Without Trees

When I went to college I chose a major that was a double threat in that it prevented me from getting a job and from getting laid. I was a history major. Many job interviews have ended when I have tried to explain that knowing all of the Russian Czars in order is "relative job experience" and many potential trysts have ended when I start to talk about the demise of the Whig party. My friends have always treated me as a bit of an outcast for being as into history as I am, and that's cool, I get it, not everyone gives a shit about Woodrow Wilson's 14 point plan. Until recently I knew that there was a group of people out there who shared my interests, the good people at the History Channel. For me channel 65 (I assume they picked this number to coincide with the year the Civil War ended) was a beacon of hope among the sea of vapid offerings on my cable system. Then Pawn Stars became a hit and it all went down the fucking tube.

Tonight I watched an atrocity called Harvest. If Ice Road Truckers and Ax Men boned and spit out a kid it would be Harvest, and frankly I wish they would have used protection. The show follows a bunch of farmers in Kansas harvesting wheat. It tries to build up suspense by pitting multiple companies against each other as they try to obtain the best harvest. Yes, you read that correctly. This is a show about competitive farming. And not even the cool kind of competitive farming where people grow pumpkins that are bigger than an Escalade. Every show has to have an antagonist, that's television 101, if you have multiple antagonists even better. The first villain: weather. Oh no! Will they be able to finish the field before the big, evil rain clouds get here? They better run those combines extra hard if they want to have a chance at finishing. Then comes the twist, the second villain, WEEDS. Apparently combines get clogged up if there are weeds, or something, I wasn't paying the closest attention. That's it. This show is an abomination. If they don't introduce crop circles by episode 3 I'm pretty damn sure no one will watch.

Now I fully accept that there have to be shitty television shows out there. We have roughly 600 channels and at least 400 of those show programs other than pornography, so there's a lot out there. My problem is that this is on the History Channel. What does this have to do with history? Bupkis. Most of the shows on the History Channel these days have only a minimal connection to history. I guess the American Pickers and Pawn Stars come across some pretty cool stuff (although I hate those shows as well) but most of the shows have nothing to do with history. I remember the olden days when the History Channel used to show nothing but historical documentaries and it was AWESOME. I loved it. When the Simpsons made the joke about the Luftwaffe being the Washington Generals of the History Channel I chuckled because it was true, but that didn't mean that I wanted to see anything else. I can't be the only one out there that would much rather see a black and white doc about Operation Barbarossa over a bunch of truckers driving on ice, right? I don't care how good the production values of the show are, there is no possible way I can be made to give a shit about truckers.

If you are named the History Channel don't you have some sort of obligation to show actual history? I guess they got emboldened by Music Television and the Learning Channel having success by completely abandoning their original formats and have decided to go the same route. The thing that I find the most troublesome about this is that I got excited when Ancient Aliens came on because it is remotely connected to history. And when listening to some yahoo talk about how alien tractor beams absolutely HAD to be used to construct the pyramids is the best "history" programming on TV it's time I shut it off and read a book.

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