Whatever Happened to the History Channel?

July 26, 2009 - 13 Comments

by Jim Barnes

A number of years ago, I remember telling someone that despite the fact that schools rarely seem to teach much history any more, at least the History Channel was still there and people did watch it. Now it seems to me that that is little comfort. I was perusing the channel guide today and found that there were no listings for THC, just ‘To Be Announced’. When I clicked on it, they were showing a rerun of “Monster Quest.” I checked again this evening and found nothing but “Ice Road Truckers.” If I was willing to stay up until 11:00, I could see R. Lee Ermey’s ‘Lock and Load,’ but that is past my bedtime.

When you consider the other usual offerings of THC any more, things don’t get a lot better. ‘Pawn Stars’!!?? another ‘reality show, this time about pawn shops? Before that was “Axe Men,” which about loggers. I suppose these shows are interesting to someone, but as far as being history, anyone of them is worth maybe an hour show, let alone a series!

Then there is the whole ‘End of the World’ class of shows which apparently grabs a lot of viewers, since they show many different variations on this type. There was one the other night which seemed to want to include all the horrible possibilities out there under one title, although I can’t (thankfully) remember it at this writing.

Of course, tied in with the ‘end of the world’ shows are the ‘Nostradamus’ offerings. I think the latest was something like ‘The Lost Book of Nostradamus.” How many shows can they do on this guy? Of couse you also have Edgar Cayce and the Mayan Calendar in the mix as well.  I wonder if any of these shows are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies which make anti-depressants? That seems like a natural tie-in. “Take 40mg of  ‘Moodsawingin’ from Acme Pharmaceuticals and you won’t care if a big rock is falling from the sky!”

Moreover, who watches this stuff? One show here or there-okay-but this many!!? Am I wrong about this? I have also noticed that a lot of the good old shows like ‘Civil War Journal’ are shown at ungodly time slots when folks are getting ready for work or in the middle of the night. Admittedly there are some occasional real history shows still being done. I noticed there is a show on tonight about the sexual revolution in the sixties. Well, sex does sell. But…I might watch that one.

So, in place of history, we often have: UFOs, Monsters (I don’t think they have ever found one) death and destruction, and reality shows, which usually involve somebody arguing profanely with someone else about what ever job it is that they are supposed to be doing. Is this all just an admission on the part of The History Channel that Americans are just so ignorant and tasteless that there is no longer any point in trying to do any better for  them?

Maybe they ought to rename it ‘The End of the World Channel”, or the “Tabloid channel”. I’m open to suggestions. I would just like to see them go back to concentrating on what they used to do well -shows about history. Well, having said my piece, I think I’ll go see if ‘Wings of the Luftwaffe’ is on the Military Channel tonight.

Comments (13)

Walter Nichols

July 26th, 2009 at 11:13 pm    

Totally agree. I don't know if it's the sign of the times, but the History Channel has certainly turned into just another cheap trendy place for monsters, Nostradamus, end-of-the world nonsense. Oh yeah and they love to get into the 'green" fanatic fringe with global warming destroying the earth as well. Maybe they're merging with the sy fy channel? What does this 'pap" have to do with history? Hope they get back to what they do best as well, or they will have lost another loyal viewer.

Art Reid

July 26th, 2009 at 11:25 pm    

I agree as well- should call it "Current Events Channel" or something. The more History centered shows seems to be on History International- at least during the day- I can't remember the last "History" show I saw on the History Channel.

Katherine Jenkins Long

July 26th, 2009 at 11:40 pm    

I went without the History Channel for 5 years and went completely crazy! When i finally was able to watch it, I was extremely disappointed. Not only do they show things about non history stuff, end of the world, etc., but they seem to show the same show every couple of weeks! And UNFORTUNATELY, I am glad I do not have satellite right now because of what it has become!

Steven L. Brock

July 27th, 2009 at 7:40 pm    

I am trying to figure out when driving trucks on ice became history !

Denise Simpson

July 28th, 2009 at 3:00 pm    

I completely agree. I LOVE history, anything 17 and 1800s. I am horrified at the lack of American History that our children are being taught. I think in my sons history class at the high school last year they watched more movies than they did actual work and half the movies had nothing to do with history. I am disapponted with the History Channel as well. My kids learn more histroy playing video games (Civil War and WWII) than they do watching TV.


July 28th, 2009 at 1:59 pm    


I heartily agree with you. Much of what is on the History Channel would be better shown on the Learning Channel, if even there. I think TLC and THC must be owned by the same conglamaration and they have one interest, making money. Since they do not have the time slots to air all the stuff on the TLC, they have moved much of it over to THC. Our whole education system is designed to “dumb” down the material to the point of being non-relevant. It is easy to control an uneducated population than an educated one, and history is one of the places where it is very easy to dumb down. Failure to know and understand history…, well you know the rest.

Keep up the good work and pontification.



Jim Barnes

July 28th, 2009 at 8:13 pm    



Matthew Gillespie

July 29th, 2009 at 9:29 pm    

I couldn’t agree more! The UFO thing and Monster Quest? What’s Historic about Ice Road Trucker? My THC viewing time has dropped considerably.

Jim Barnes

July 29th, 2009 at 9:36 pm    

It would be nice to get some kind of grassroots protest going. Let’s spread the word. There has to be a lot of other genuine history buffs out there who feel just as abandoned!

Nick Korolev

August 5th, 2009 at 5:56 pm    

Hey All –
I agree with you, too. I remember when the History Channel showed so much WWII material that people were calling it “The Hitler Channel”.

Being a substitute teacher in two counties I can tell you they are dumbing down history and a lot of other subjects. It is all part of “No Child Left Behind” garbage. Teachers are constantly complaining. We talk about it a lot. All they are doing is teaching kids to pass the WEST Tests. People must learn to accept that some kids will fail while others excell. Not everyone makes the team or will pass to the next grade. The whole society is over protective of its kids. We grew up riding bikes without helmets, skating without padding etc. . Now kids grow up sheltered from reality. No wonder they can’t cope in a crisis. History is full of crisis and should be taught in full since it tells of how generations before coped and survived. Now I will get off my soap box

Chuck Critchfield

August 9th, 2009 at 1:43 pm    

The History Channel is no longer on my preferred list of channel surfing sites. HOwever, the military channel and some of those other related channels seem to pick up some of the old History Channel stuff. I have seen some fascinating shows recently there, in which folks are digging up the old WWI trenches. So the History channel has gone the way of the MTV. The original channels have morphed into something totally unrelated to the original concept and have spawned other channels that carry the original content.

Jim Barnes

August 11th, 2009 at 10:50 pm    

Good observation, Chuck. It really stinks when History buffs no longer find anything on the History Channel.

The Reenactor Post

October 8th, 2009 at 3:52 pm    


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