By John Seal
September 9, 2013
To my loyal readers,
After 11 years, the TiVoPlex is closing.
When I first starting writing this column in September 2002, I had no idea how long I could – or would - keep it up. I just knew it was fun to write about the obscure old movies I loved so much. Years later – I’d guess sometime around 2009 – I realized the column was getting close to its 10th birthday, and set myself an arbitrary goal of completing a decade of TiVoPlex. Mission accomplished!
Nothing lasts forever, of course, and despite my undimmed love for obscure, underappreciated, or overlooked films, the changing landscape of cable and satellite programming has made it more and more challenging to keep TiVoPlex interesting and diverse. Just a few examples: back when I started the column, Starz In Black was one of the most interesting channels available, frequently showing African films otherwise impossible to see in the US. Now, on the best of days, you’re lucky if the channel hosts a House Party marathon. The enraging sale of both IFC and Sundance to AMC Networks - the same company, of course, that ruined the pre-TiVoPlex American Movie Classics channel - means those once terrific outlets have dumbed down their programming substantially and (worst of all) added commercial interruptions to the mix.
Where did that leave the TiVoPlex? Basically leaning on trusty Turner Classic Movies, the occasional Spanish language feature on HBO Signature (for which I am most grateful!), and whatever table scrapings I could find elsewhere. In simplest terms, TV movie choice has diminished since 2002, especially recently, and the TiVoPlex has reflected that decreased diversity. Today, there's a dime's worth of difference between Cinemax, HBO, Showtime, and Starz, and cable or satellite subscribers are, in my opinion, getting a much worse movie deal today than they did 10 or 20 years ago.
There are, of course, all sorts of online options today to satisfy film buffs, and it’s no longer as difficult to see the "weird stuff" as it once was. I also know my reluctance to embrace those options and continued reliance on a set menu of choices reflects my age: I spent my youth eagerly poring over each new issue of TV Guide, looking for that once in a lifetime 3:00 a.m. opportunity to see Fangs of the Living Dead, Train Robbery Confidential, or The Second Best Secret Agent In the Whole Wide World (films I still haven’t seen on a premium cable or satellite channel). Today, Satellite Direct magazine reflects a programming mindset in the cable industry that can at best be described as conservative and/or homogenous. /End rant about how life used to be better in the good old days.
I wish to thank with all my heart everyone at BOP (I actually began writing for the site in the late ‘90s), especially Kim Hollis and David Mumpower, who have allowed me to nurture this little corner of the internet for so long, and of course my loyal readers who sent me feedback and e-mails (you know who you are). I’ll continue to write weekly film reviews at www.berkeleyside.com and quarterly features for The Phantom of the Movie’s Videoscope. I may even return to BOP from time to time with a special feature or three!
Until then, see you at the movies!
Editor's Note: We'd like to thank John for more than a decade of engaging commentary on some of the weirdest, most eclectic movies ever made. Best wishes to our dear friend!