Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fun with blurry movie IDs

I've got an Antenna TV affiliate in my area. Antenna TV is of course, one of the nostalgia networks that broadcasts mostly TV shows, but some movies, on digital subchannels. MeTV and RTV are two other networks that broadcast mostly TV shows, while ThisTV airs mostly movies, with those generally being things that remained with MGM after Ted Turner bought the back movie library in the mid-1980s. So there's a lot of stuff that's from UA, or that they picked up in the meantime -- the sorts of films where you would see the MGM lion logo complete with website URL when the movies air on TCM.

As for Antenna TV, I don't get the digital channel on which it airs since the signal isn't strong enough: with digital you either get a crystal-clear signal or nothing at all. For the time being, they're still on a low-powered analog channel as well, at least for the next few years until all the analog channels go dark in 2015 or 2016. As it is, even that signal is far enough away from me that it's quite poor reception.

Sometimes when I'm going up or down through all the TV channels with my remote, I'll see that there's a movie of some sort on Antenna TV and try to figure out what it is. Digital TV includes a signal within the broadcast that can contain information about the program. So if there's ever anything on the ThisTV channel that I don't recognize, I can just press a button on the remote and find out the title of the movie and possibly a synopsis. I can't do that with Antenna TV, though, since analog broadacsts don't have such signals. So I'm left to guess by trying to watch a crappy signal. I have to admit it's always satisfying when I can figure out what the movie actually is -- I remember several months back they showed The Big Heat and finally realizing that's what the film was when they got to a scene with Gloria Grahame and Glenn Ford. Of course, it can be very frustrating not to know what the movie is. Just the other day I hit Antenna TV in the middle of a scene where some of the characters were calling another "Lanyard", and Lanyard was talking to his butler Jameson; with the plot being about a gem called Shalamar or something. It sounded so familiar, at least the Lanyard character. I knew TCM was running one of those detective series that had Michael Lanyard as a character, but darnit, I just couldn't remember which one. Off to IMDb, which quickly reminded me that Michael Lanyard was the Lone Wolf. But which of the dozen or so movies had the gem plot? Rather than clicking through all the titles, I got lazy and did a Google search, which implies that I was watching The Notorious Lone Wolf from 1946.

As for Antenna TV, they have the broadcast rights to the stuff that Sony has, which means Screen Gems TV series and movies from Columbia.

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