At the time, What Cable network felt the most "underground" to you?

Nov 11, 2018
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Traditional Cable television is becoming a dying relic as Streaming networks like Netflix and services like YouTube overtake it in mass market popularity. That said, Its fun to look back at the once novel idea of cable television. The idea of more channels, many of which covered a specific theme or targeted a particular audience was what drew people to it in the 80s, 90s, and even the early 2000s. Because of this, there were some cable channels that felt distinctly "underground". In terms of aesthetics, programming, marketing, even the commercial breaks, where they defied mainstream television wisdom, and catered to really particular audiences with very particular focuses.

Which cable network growing up, did you think felt the most "underground". As in, not mass produced, not super popular. Having a weird, niche feel, with weird, niche programming, and generally having an almost, Avant-garde style to it? The champion of this for me was and always will be Adult Swim. Say what you will about Adult Swim now, It's amazing how relevant they've managed to keep themselves after all these years, even as the Cable landscape shatters, just by playing by their own rules. Love them or hate them, they're not afraid to be different.
 
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Nov 21, 2014
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Z Channel.

It was channel 0 on the dial (Lower than channel 1?!). We didn't have it ordered but it came in with a ton of static. Saw some fuzzy titties. We were already paying 20 bucks a month for the 20(!) cable channels, but this Z channel was something else. The static told me I wasn't allowed to watch it, but I persisted. Not sure how many hours I spent staring at barely discernable images hoping for more titties and random movies.

Doesn't get more underground than black and white blobs and static.

ETA- the time reference is early to mid 80s.
 
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Jan 14, 2018
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YTV Toronto back in the 90's was my shizzz



not "underground" but pretty under-appreciated compared to people's nostalgia for oldschool cartoon network
 
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Yes, Adult Swim is the gold standard of this.

I was there the night it premiered interestingly enough and Adult Swim was a HUGE part of my teenage years.

Sadly I think "Adult Swim" as a whole doesn't matter too much anymore, while they still have popular shows like Rick and Morty, how many are actually watching it when it first airs on live TV? The experiance of having to actually stay up late to see all these crazy shows is a mostly bygone thing I think.
 
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Mar 6, 2018
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Early Comedy Central was also something else. Any network that would air the original Mystery Science Theater 3000 has to be pretty underground. Early South Park was also pretty darn underground, for the unheard of risks that show took.

But yeah, Cartoon Network hands down. Space Ghost, Sealab, Aqua Teen Hunger Force. That was all crazy levels of bizarre comedy that they'd never put on network television.

Z Channel.

It was channel 0 on the dial (Lower than channel 1?!). We didn't have it ordered but it came in with a ton of static. Saw some fuzzy titties. We were already paying 20 bucks a month for the 20(!) cable channels, but this Z channel was something else. The static told me I wasn't allowed to watch it, but I persisted. Not sure how many hours I spent staring at barely discernable images hoping for more titties and random movies.

Doesn't get more underground than black and white blobs and static.

ETA- the time reference is early to mid 80s.
I have to wonder if that was the influence for this:

 
Jun 13, 2018
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I remember watching What a Cartoon Show late at night in 1995 and just being in awe of being able to see cartoons late at night. When I didn't have cable TV, I could only watch cartoons during the morning. And that show spawned many of the Cartoon Network classics we know and love. It was pure joy... and the soundtrack was something else, truly memorable.

That, Nickeloden and mid 90's MTV were my jam.
 
Jan 25, 2018
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I remember watching What a Cartoon Show late at night in 1995 and just being in awe of being able to see cartoons late at night. When I didn't have cable TV, I could only watch cartoons during the morning. And that show spawned many of the Cartoon Network classics we know and love. It was pure joy... and the soundtrack was something else, truly memorable.

That, Nickeloden and mid 90's MTV were my jam.
Nickelodeon would stop airing cartoons in the evenings to make way for Nick At Nite which would play reruns of old TV shows.

I always hated that as a kid, so Cartoon Network coming along was amazing.

G4/Tech TV felt really cool for a while, not sure if underground is the right word, but it felt like the content on the channel was made by very knowledgeable people who were also very entertaining, it didn't feel phony until G4 took over.
I thought about mentioning Tech TV, I was a big fan of that channel, but I'm not sure if "underground" would be the right word to describe it.

I didn't hate G4, it was pretty cool too for a while, though there was a point where it started to get lame and I started to miss Tech TV.
 
Likes: lock2k
Sep 4, 2018
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Adult Swim was pretty cool. it's funny ive done a little work for them & my friends have jobs there and do stuff for their web shows. it's employed a ton of creative people in Atl. i was lucky enough to be in my early 20s just out of college just into drugs and music when Sealab 2021 and ATHF just came out. that stuff was classic, plus Space Ghost Coast to Coast and the Brak Show. i kinda lost track of it since then but discovered Xavier: Renegade Angel a few years ago and that show is beyond amazing and bizarre and crazy, i love it.

MTV was pretty awesome in the 90s, even though there was ALWAYS a solid block of crap, like Real World or other reality shows. 120 Minutes would play some awesome stuff, and rad musicians would always show up, i have VHS tapes of that. The Maxx was cool, Aeon Flux was cool, Sifl & Olly was soooooo lighthearted and fun in a proto-Tim & Eric lo fi style. VH-1 was kinda cool. Behind the Music is like a funnel cake, just wonderful pop trash, then there was Pop Up Video. of course MTV was as lame and as corporate as you could be (Beck's first single "MTV Makes Me Wanna Smoke Crack" so it would be insulting to say they were underground. but at some point in the mid 90s, like when Beavis & Butthead were making fun of a music video they play seriously during the day, it felt pretty cool.
 
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Apr 15, 2018
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like others said, Adult Swim was pretty huge. Felt different from everything else

Also for a while, the Sci-fi channel would almost randomly show like crazy anime in the middle of the night. I think i saw Akira or giTS on that network once when I was younger.
 
Jul 13, 2013
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G4 / Tech TV felt super underground at the time and I loved the channel pre 2005. I really miss the original feel of that channel and when they turned into Cops/Cheaters reruns and trying to be hip it ruined what it had going. It was super innovative seeing video reviews of games as well as documentaries and the comedy never felt forced.
 
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G4 / Tech TV felt super underground at the time and I loved the channel pre 2005. I really miss the original feel of that channel and when they turned into Cops/Cheaters reruns and trying to be hip it ruined what it had going. It was super innovative seeing video reviews of games as well as documentaries and the comedy never felt forced.
The last good year for G4 was 2006 I'd say.

But yeah, once they started playing bullshit like reruns of Cops and Cheaters the channel was no longer worth watching.
 
Nov 11, 2018
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The last good year for G4 was 2006 I'd say.

But yeah, once they started playing bullshit like reruns of Cops and Cheaters the channel was no longer worth watching.
I'd say the beginning of the end was actually the merger with TechTV in 2004. There was a lot of slapdash BS behind the scenes that kick-started G4's eventual decline.
 
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It was the beginning of the end but it still remained pretty good for a few years.
Yeah, there was still fun to be had. But behind the scenes, things weren't looking too good. I honestly think the merger with TechTV was an ill-conceived and sloppy idea to begin with. It only felt like G4 bought TechTV, just so they can kill it.
 
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Mtv was, as amazing as it may seem today, rather subversive in its prime. Headbanger's Ball, Yo Mtv Raps, Liquid Television, The Maxx, Spawn, The State, Beavis and Butthead, The Jon Stewart Show - too many to list, really. Between Real World and Carson Daly, they decided that being profitable meant creating bullshit for idiots.

I always felt like Adult Swim was trying too hard to appear edgy.

Early Fox was cool. I mean, you had Simpsons and Married With Children, but you also had really weird shows. There was this one show with Evan Handler, I think, about a group of people trapped in a farm house by giant ants after a nuclear war destroys everyone else. (edit: It exists! Whoops!).
 
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I always felt like Adult Swim was trying too hard to appear edgy.
When it first started it was a little more laid back, though they did try to push the edgy feel more as it went on and yeah, sometimes it could feel a little cringy.

What always bothered me was the antagonism they showed towards anime and anime fans as time went on, going to the point of one year for the April fools prank they added fart noises to the anime, which yeah, was pretty funny, but that coupled with the Williams street show "Perfect Hair Forever", which I thought was fairly meh, begged the question "do you want us to watch your programming or not?"

The final straw for me was when they started screwing with the scheduling in 2008, putting new episodes of anime on at absurdly late times, something like 4:00 in the morning, that sent a pretty loud and clear message and I bailed and haven't looked back since, while they since came back around to it and extended an olive branch with the revived Toonami (though it says a lot they wanted it separate from the actual "Adult Swim" branding) I had just moved on too much by that point for me personally to watch anime on live TV broadcasts.

I also haven't been able to keep with the AS shows in recent years, I've seen a handful of episodes of Rick and Morty, but that it's, I also haven't watched any of the most recent seasons of Venture Brothers.
 
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while they since came back around to it and extended an olive branch with the revived Toonami (though it says a lot they wanted it separate from the actual "Adult Swim" branding) I had just moved on too much by that point for me personally to watch anime on live TV broadcasts.
I don't think this was true. Toonami is still very much part of the regular Adult Swim Schedule, with Adult Swim's logo showing up in every promo and on screen durring shows.
 
Jan 25, 2018
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I don't think this was true. Toonami is still very much part of the regular Adult Swim Schedule, with Adult Swim's logo showing up in every promo and on screen durring shows.
Oh ok, I haven't actually watched it, because like I said by that point I had simply moved on from watching anime on live television.

I'm glad to hear there was a change in attitude, but there was a period of time in the late 2000s where they seemed like they hated anime and didn't want anyone watching it anymore, which pushed me away.
 
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Oh ok, I haven't actually watched it, because like I said by that point I had simply moved on from watching anime on live television.

I'm glad to hear there was a change in attitude, but there was a period of time in the late 2000s where they seemed like they hated anime and didn't want anyone watching it anymore, which pushed me away.
Part of Adult Swim's style is insult humor. They regularly poke fun at the viewers, their shows, and anybody they can think of, all for the sake of a joke. I never thought they actually hated anime, but their attitude towards anime fans can be seen as passive aggressive due to the network's somewhat twisted sense of humor misleading people.

On top of that, Anime has never historically done as well as AS' other shows, I think part of it was them just wanting to focus more on making a name with their own programming than just more anime. Even Toonami on its best days, will only get like 1 million views at most. Adult Swim continues to air anime because it's cheap to get, and has a cult following every Saturday. Like most Turner networks, Adult Swim is focusing more on their digital platforms now vs their live feed.
 
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Part of Adult Swim's style is insult humor. They regularly poke fun at the viewers, their shows, and anybody they can think of, all for the sake of a joke. I never thought they actually hated anime, but their attitude towards anime fans can be seen as passive aggressive due to the network's somewhat twisted sense of humor misleading people.

On top of that, Anime has never historically done as well as AS' other shows, I think part of it was them just wanting to focus more on making a name with their own programming than just more anime. Even Toonami on its best days, will only get like 1 million views at most. Adult Swim continues to air anime because it's cheap to get, and has a cult following every Saturday. Like most Turner networks, Adult Swim is focusing more on their digital platforms now vs their live feed.
Well, I could take some of the ribbing and humor, that was no big deal, but like I said what really pissed me off was the terrible scheduling they did in 2008, taking what used to air around 11:30 or midnight and airing it at friggin' 4:00 am.

This also happened the same year the original Toonami ended as well, to me the message from CN was loud and clear and that was they were over anime, there was a general cooling of people's interest in it around that time in 2008, 2009.

Still I was glad when they brought Toonami back and I'm glad it's out there on US television for younger or more casual audiences to experience it, I wish them well, I personally have just evolved past the need to really watch it on Adult Swim/Toonami, but there's certainly a lot of nostalgia for the days when I did.
 
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This also happened the same year the original Toonami ended as well, to me the message from CN was loud and clear and that was they were over anime, there was a general cooling of people's interest in it around that time in 2008, 2009.
Anime in general was dying on TV, as the market itself kind of imploded in mainstream popularity at the time. CN wanted nothing to do with anime at the time because of this, and axed Toonami as a result. I think people should be lucky that Adult Swim was even airing anime at all during this period even as CN erased it from their side of the schedule to make room for Reality shows that nobody asked for.

2008-2012 or so was sort of a dark age for the Western Anime market. Remember, this was before Streaming was mainstream, so the best you could get was fansubs, or expensive DVD/Blu-Ray sets. So it's understandable as to why Adult Swim didn't take Anime as seriously as some people wanted them to during that time, it just wasn't as desirable during this period.
 
Jan 25, 2018
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Anime in general was dying on TV, as the market itself kind of imploded in mainstream popularity at the time. CN wanted nothing to do with anime at the time because of this, and axed Toonami as a result. I think people should be lucky that Adult Swim was even airing anime at all during this period even as CN erased it from their side of the schedule to make room for Reality shows that nobody asked for.

2008-2012 or so was sort of a dark age for the Western Anime market. Remember, this was before Streaming was mainstream, so the best you could get was fansubs, or expensive DVD/Blu-Ray sets. So it's understandable as to why Adult Swim didn't take Anime as seriously as some people wanted them to during that time, it just wasn't as desirable during this period.
Yes, the western publishers started dropping like flies and there was a general cultural shift where it was highly uncool to like it, despite the ascendancy of "geek chic", this is best summed up by the internet's negative reaction to the infamous Sakura Con 2009 commercial

2008-2012 were some very bleak days for it indeed, it always cheers me up when I think about the fact that anime crawled itself out of the hole it fell into back then.

As for Adult Swim, I was once under the impression they had stopped airing anime completely from 2009 to 2012, though I later learned that was not the case, but it was down to a skeleton crew of series before the Toonami revival.