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AMC Is Trying to Do "Something More"

AMC better keep their fire going
AMC better keep their fire going

Once upon a time, in a decade far far away, the AMC network stood for something; that something was "American Movie Classics". With this week's release of its new slogan, the network stands for something more. Yes, exactly. What? I said it stands for something more. What something more does it stand for? I know, I just said that. (This is turning into an Abbott and Costello routine.)

AMC just announced that its new slogan would be, "something more." There are plenty of corny jokes one might make (I think I just did) and comment sections of websites revealing this information had plenty of them. If you recall the network's previous slogan, "Story matters here," and you run through the list of shows the network is famous for, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, this mantra makes a bit more sense. But with the network's acquisition of several reality shows, and then, oh yeah they still play movies on occasion, I suppose "something more" is supposed to mean "something more than just those three shows you really like."

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Anytime a network tries to redefine itself, it winds up taking on a new slogan and so it is not presumptuous to assume that AMC feels the need to do something new, especially given its current competition. But it's also funny to think that AMC used to show "nothing more" than classic films. Talk about reinventing yourself... like eight times.

AMC was one of the original premium cable channels that entered the market in the early '80s. When it first appeared, it showed only classic movies. After a few years, it became a basic cable network but still aired only classic films without commercial interruption. So it was TMC. At this time, the network was seen as the destination for classic films, and it even branched into airing marathons of rare films to highlight artists who made significant contributions to the art form. It was a serious film network, but oh the times have changed.

The network was bought and sold and split up and all the other horrible things those evil media oligopolies do to ruin television channels and AMC began cutting into its movies and airing commercials. But it still ran good movies. Whoever owned the network would dictate which movies AMC could air, but again, the American Movie Channel still just aired American classic movies (and some movie related crap to fill time).

And then something happened and I remember clearly watching Sweet Home Alabama on AMC wondering aloud how this was at all considered a classic movie. This was around 2004, when the network began airing non-classic, crappy movies but also a reality show called FilmFakers, which was like the meanest Punk'd on out-of-work actor/waiters to ever be devised. I kinda' liked it.

 

And this show, among a host of other things, set off the all-movie network into "something more." In 2007, AMC premiered what would be its biggest step in the scripted television arena, a little show about the advertising culture of the 1960s that I like to call Mad Men (and everyone also likes to call it that too). Mad Men blew AMC into brand new territory. It won awards; it changed culture, Banana Republic created an over-priced clothing line to capitalize on its success. Vintage glasses were cool, it was "ok" to be voluptuous and a ginger, and everyone wanted to be a high-ball drinking, cigarette smoker.

AMC didn't stop in 1960; a year later it introduced Breaking Bad, which has been called one of the best shows on television. Then they struck zombie gold with the Walking Dead, which just closed its season with an astounding 12.4 million people watching. This is a cable show, people!

Best convo ever!

Like it or not, AMC has changed the playing field for quality scripted programming. The genre had been dominated by HBO for decades and all of a sudden you didn't need to pay $25 per month to watch good television. And to its credit, AMC has opened the doors to all other basic cable networks to do the same. And that is a blessing and a curse.

AMC does a great job of keeping itself very relevant in the ratings department by stacking its shows. Just as Walking Dead is winding down, Mad Men is cuing back up, but Mad Men doesn't get the numbers that its zombie brethren does, nor does Breaking Bad. And the network has tried to jump start a few other shows that have gotten poor reviews and worse viewership, Rubicon, The Killing, among others.

AMC announced a slew of new scripted shows to enter into its bloodstream and they seem OK. They announced in December of 2012 they would pick up a comedy called We Hate Paul Revere by writer-actors Ethan Sandler and Adrian Wenner (Whitney). These guys are under-the-radar comedians who could do very well. And the network really needs a comedy to keep pace with its peers.

Other new shows sound kind of "meh." They announced a new legal thriller that will have "major political, personal and ethical stakes." Oh, so like every other legal thriller out there? Plus, AMC keeps tossing out all these new reality shows and this trend needs to die a swift death now.

Bottom line is that AMC has got its work cut out for it if it wants to live up to its new tagline. If it really wants to be "something more" than all the other crap out there it has to be something more than the Jon Hamm's wiener/zombieapocalypse/meth show. Bottom line: Bring it on... but not the movie starring Kirsten Dunst because although I may think that is an American Movie Classic, it really isn't guys. It really isn't.


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