The big swingin’ tool-belted, love-handled love machines
January 23, 2018 2:34 PM   Subscribe

The Spike Manifesto. [Vice; very mildly NSFW] Spike TV--once The Nashville Network, now Paramount Network--aspired to be "The First Network for Men". But what was it really all about? Apparently, "loyal, reliable, confident, funny, action-oriented, unapologetic, testosterone-driven, non-preaching, celebratory, unpretentious, no bullshit." And, in the end, not completely without a sense of humor.
posted by Halloween Jack (26 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My sole experience with Spike was going to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. I hadn't seen them in years, but the morning after I arrived I got hit with a terrible flu I caught on the plane. In my fever delirium, I lay curled up in bed flipping channels, and discovered this network, which just happened to be kicking off an 18-hour marathon of Women of Ninja Warrior. I had never heard of this show, and the concept and action were so preposterous that I was certain I was having a fever dream. I passed in and out of consciousness as afternoon became night and then morning, waking up to see women running up net walls, Tanzaning over water, scaling impossible towers while an audience screamed and cheered. I only learned it was real when I asked my dad about it and he was like, "Yep, that's Spike. Welcome back to America."
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:54 PM on January 23, 2018 [11 favorites]

Wow, timing.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:14 PM on January 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I remember settling in for a quiet night alone in a hotel room paid for by my employer way back in the early 2000's.. Spike was a cable network that was new and I didn't get it at home, so I tuned in while I ate my sushi in bed like an animal. They were playing the JCVD movie Bloodsport and I was feeling the nostalgia... then I noticed that no one ever swore in this movie... which seemed odd considering it was supposed to be rated R back when it came out. Then we got the the fight scene where JCVD does the splits to duck a stupid karate-style high kick, and ... jump-cut to the opponent's face distorting in agony and then clutching his crotch as JCVD is still down in the splits with his fist chambered at his hip... THEY CUT OUT THE COCKPUNCH SCENE!!?!?!?

So no swearing, and no excessive violence... the network for tough many men eh??

I never watched again on purpose. False advertising.
posted by some loser at 3:33 PM on January 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

My favorite number is 329 because it’s the number of times COPS is on every night.

posted by Splunge at 3:43 PM on January 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I recently saw a promo for a series that is going to be on the Paramount Network,which surprised me because I was positive UPN had merged with the WB network to become The CW quite a while ago. This clarifies everything. Thanks.
posted by briank at 3:53 PM on January 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

The trouble with Spike and it's 3rd- and 4th-tier cable channel ilk was that they ran like 20-some minutes of ads per hour. It's just unwatchable. The content was fine but got crushed under the ad load.
posted by GuyZero at 3:56 PM on January 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

While some of that content was craven nostalgia-bait (Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon") or puerile quasi-smut (Stripperella), a few diamonds were sprinkled into the rough. Take, for example, Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, where the conceit of dubbing comedic commentary over a retro Japanese obstacle course show was genius enough for most people to ignore some of its more problematic jokes.
Well, right you are, Ken!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:09 PM on January 23, 2018 [15 favorites]

@DiGiornoPizza: "This is the worst delivery we’ve ever seen."

That's funny.

I did an FPP on the Joe Schmo Show once. All the links are expired. I remember SpikeTV for that, and for their takeoff on Takeshi's Castle, MXC, which was insanely racist.
posted by zarq at 4:09 PM on January 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

MXC is still one of my favorite things ever, but based on, ahem, research, nobody online ... shares my enthusiasm ...
posted by tocts at 4:14 PM on January 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

I was really annoyed when SpikeTV debuted because up to that point TNN was mostly reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation. They would even do a 'movie night' where a two-part episode was shown back-to-back (and maybe even uncut?).
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:21 PM on January 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

I share enthusiasm for most extreme elimination challenge!!!
posted by supermedusa at 4:25 PM on January 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

MXC is still one of my favorite things ever, but based on, ahem, research, nobody online ... shares my enthusiasm ...

I used to watch it with the sound off in the middle of the night when I was bottle feeding my kids, when they were babies. I liked the action, but the dubbed commentary was offensive as hell.
posted by zarq at 4:25 PM on January 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

It certainly takes chutzpah for Vice to lay into another media outlet for being too bro-y.

Most Extreme Elimination Challenge was okay, but Ninja Warrior on Techtv/G4 was better because it didn't have the obnoxious overdubbing.

You know what's nuts? Paramount Pictures has been trying to make the Paramount Network a thing since the 1940s. Every Star Trek fan knows that TOS was going to be relaunched in the 70s to be the pride of the new network. I wonder what Paul Raibourn and Klaus Landsberg would say if they were alive to see their dream finally become a reality!
posted by riruro at 4:33 PM on January 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

I always thought of it as the Bar Rescue channel. Because every time I was scrolling through the channels, that's what was playing.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 4:43 PM on January 23, 2018

I had exposure to Takeshi's Castle through a clip show of weird TV that had a regular Takeshi's Castle segment, so when MXC came along, it wasn't anywhere near as charming, especially as they'd messed with what I knew the format was and taken footage from different episodes.
posted by Merus at 5:34 PM on January 23, 2018

I sure did learn a lot about making cartoons when I was hanging around Spumco during the production of R&SAPC. Some of it was even things John K intended to teach the next generation.
posted by egypturnash at 5:58 PM on January 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

I'm glad Spike existed, if only for Joe Schmo Show and MXC, which were a breath of fresh air.

That weird Striperalla cartoon and the disastrous new Ren and Stimpy cartoons (both of which I'm sure are in the article, which I will now read) are best left in the dust bin of history.
posted by Yowser at 11:00 PM on January 23, 2018

I actually watched a bunch of Bar Rescue episodes when at my mom's. That's an indication of how very empty Comcast's Basic Cable lineup was back then, and it's gotten worse. Today, there's nothing that would get me to watch that show. It's like Gordon Ramsey as envisioned by Emperor Palpatine.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:08 AM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

One of my favorite things that Spike did was this TV movie that was supposed to launch a series. It was a Michael Mann-y cop movie, except the main character had a dead partner who helped him. I'm serious, a ghost would come talk to him sometimes. And the main villain was played by Domenick Lombardozzi, who you will remember as Herc from The Wire, except in this movie he was a playing a super-smart master thief. He was really good in it, too. It was much more entertaining than a person would expect from a TV movie in 2001, yet they never turned it into a series.
posted by heatvision at 3:50 AM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

You know what's nuts? Apparently nobody remembers that Paramount already had a channel.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:22 AM on January 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

Right! UPN's flagship show was Star Trek: Voyager.
posted by zarq at 7:14 AM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

The history of the various Paramount channels can get complicated, especially when you factor in Viacom's acquisition, then spinning-off of CBS.

1. First, there was Paramount Television Network, from the very early days of television. Not remembered much, unless you're that last fan of The Spade Cooley Show.

2. The Paramount Television Service, which was going to be the showcase of Star Trek: Phase II. Sputtered out when they couldn't sell enough ads, and STP2 turned into Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

3. UPN. Lasted eleven years or so, and ended up being merged with former start-up network rival The WB to form The CW. (The history is absurdly complicated, as it involves Viacom, which started out as the TV syndication arm of CBS, but had to be spun off into a separate corporation due to then-current FCC rules; bought Paramount in 1994; re-merged with CBS in 1999; then split in 2005 to form two corporations, CBS (which was really the old Viacom, re-named) and a new Viacom. And, just for shits and giggles, I guess, there's been talk of re-re-merging Viacom and CBS. Which would again have one company in control of Star Trek, as Paramount (i.e. Viacom) has had the movies since the split, and CBS the TV show rights.)

4. And now this thing, which is what it is.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:53 PM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I recall reading, back when UPN was still in operation, that UPN's affiliate stations were lobbying to change the name to Paramount Network, because no one knew what UPN stood for or that Paramount Pictures was involved. Contrast that with its rival the WB network taking advantage of the Warner Bros name and logo and frog. Which is also what Fox did.

However, the Wikipedia entry states the opposite, that the affiliates were against a name change because it would confuse viewers. No matter, I can be proven correct with a quick edit.

It looks like what doomed UPN was that Paramount had a really contentious relationship with its partner in the network.
posted by riruro at 4:08 PM on January 24, 2018

For people wanting the endless reruns of Star Trek, the "local" Heroes and Icons channel cycles through TOS, NG, Voyager and Enterprise every night starting at 8 I think. We discovered it as one of the extra over the air digital channels at my folks place, so we'd always have something to watch at 11 pm after everyone went to bed. They also have Xena and Hercules, for a complete Saturday afternoon nostalgia fest.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 1:37 PM on January 25, 2018

BBCA also shows a lot of Star Trek in blocks; TOS, NG, and Voyager. Where is DS9?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:20 PM on January 25, 2018

MXC is one of those things my wife and I used to love but can’t really enjoy any more, what with all the sexism and homophobia and cultural appropriation and all.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:41 PM on January 25, 2018

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