Cable channel TV Land launched 18 years ago today on Monday, April 29th, 1996. Last year at this time, I marked TV Land’s 17th anniversary with a brief post that led to a number of frustrated comments from readers. I thought about writing a similar post today but decided against it. Why? Because TV Land doesn’t matter anymore when it comes to classic television. It hasn’t for years. The powers that be made the decision to shift focus and no amount of anger on the part of viewers is going to change that.
There was a time when TV Land was more or less the only source for classic television on TV. And there was even a time when it catered to ardent fans of television, occasionally airing episodes of rare and short-lived shows like Coronet Blue, Lucas Tanner, The Young Lawyers and Mr. Terrific.
But TV Land isn’t the only game in town anymore. All of the “classic” shows it still airs (or at least are still included on its list of shows, some of which haven’t actually been seen on TV Land in a long time) are available on DVD in some fashion. And with few exceptions, all of them are also airing on one of the various classic television digital specialty networks that have launched over the past few years — like Me-TV, Cozi TV and Antenna TV — or another cable channel.
Here’s a list of the “classic” shows — those on the air prior to 1980 — that TV Land lists at its website:
All in the Family
The Andy Griffith Show
The Beverly Hillbillies
The Bob Newhart Show
The Brady Bunch
The Carol Burnett Show
The Dick Van Dyke Show
I Dream of Jeannie
I Love Lucy
Leave it to Beaver
Little House on the Prairie
Sanford and Son
I believe the only shows on the list not readily available elsewhere on television are The Andy Griffith Show, The Carol Burnett Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show but I may be wrong.
With that in mind, it seems clear that for fans of classic television TV Land is no longer relevant. I suppose if you’re just interested in watching random episodes of classic shows that have been cut for time and don’t get Me-TV or Antenna TV, then maybe TV Land still matters. And somebody has to be watching TV Land’s particular brand of sitcom, right?
Otherwise, the days of TV Land being crazy about television are long gone. It’s time to move on. Buy your favorite classic shows on DVD (or Blu-ray, if available) and watch them uncut and commercial free. Check your local listings to see if you get Me-TV, Antenna TV, Cozi TV or Retro TV. Check Netflix and other streaming sites to see what’s available.