Sep 12, 2009

The Movies Eleven Return?

Back in the 1980's many late-night owls like myself in southern Ontario got their movie fixes on "The Movies Eleven" on Hamilton's CHCH-TV, which would usually run films (often uncut) until the wee hours on Friday and Saturday nights. (I probably still have off-air VHS tapes of Nashville and Marathon Man made from broadcast on CHCH.)

And here's a signoff from the good old days, kids...

Over the decades, this station has gone through tremendous changes. In the 1970's and 80's, we knew them for producing cheesy low-budget programming like "Party Game", "Hilarious House of Frightenstein", "Smith and Smith", and many, many others. And despite that the production values on some of these shows were pretty bad, we still had to salute them for doing it at all, because the local content at least hit home with people within its broadcast band. And then in the 1990's when it was simply branded as "OnTV" or simply "CH" in an attempt to make the station sound sexier, and thereby became as faceless as most other television stations on the dial which had been subsumed by a corporate entity. This year, after some high-profile firing of longtime CHCH staff, its latest owner, Canwest, sold the station to Channel Zero, who then promised to change the format of the station to include more movies.

Surely enough, they did just that. In all honesty, I had forgotten about the shift at the station until I watched some of it last night. After doing my customary Friday night ritual of falling asleep in front of the TV, I had awakened a couple of times to do some channel surfing before nodding off again, and in both instances, I had encountered a movie playing on channel eleven. First, at about 2 AM, it was a kung fu movie with horrible pan and scan, and the second time, at about 6:00 was the ending of No No Nanette. In either case, the print quality was terrible, the broadcast signal was almost as bad as our reception of AMC, and of course, the logo that you see at the top of this post was watermarked for the entirety. But still, this event had a surreal deja vu, recalling the days when we'd awake in the middle of the night to an old movie instead of a chat line ad.

Having glanced at their schedule for the next few weeks, it appears CHCH is peppering their schedule with lots of public domain titles, and devoting prime time to such retro favourites as Back to School. Perhaps with this content, the station is as faceless as the days of "OnTV", but at least the programming differs from the other 49 channels. These days, that alone is something to be commended on the dial.


Barry Smight said...

Bizzare! I was reading up on CHCH not two days ago... including watching Youtube video files such as the logo you posted.

CHCH is in a lot of financial trouble. There is talk, or has been recent talk, of shutting the whole operation down; which is a shame as that particular frequency has a lot of history.

Yes, they do show a lot of "comfortable" movie fare -- to fill in their sked on the cheap, probably. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Barry Smight said...

Man, I should learn to read. "Frightenstein" had terrific production values; perfectly in keeping with its world. And I would hardly call "Smith and Smith" cheesy!


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