If you’re a regular visitor to this ‘umble scrap of the blogosphere you’re probably aware that I’d had issues with the DISH people from time to time. Since the current Rancho Yesteryear the ‘rents and I occupy is located just outside the town limits of Winterville (a.k.a. City of Marigolds) in neighboring Oglethorpe County, we have no access to cable (Charter or Spectrum or whatever alias they’re currently cheating customers under)—so when we moved in I signed us up with DISH for one basic reason: there was already a DISH dish in a corner of the yard. My sister Debbie is a DirecTV subscriber—I was one in the past—as is sister Kat, but I have heard that they have a propensity to jack up their rates (DirectTV, not my sisters) at a moment’s notice (a few of my Facebook compadres argue this is not true, however).
Whatever ulcers DISH gives me is offset by the admittedly great offers they advertise every now and then. I got notice of one in my e-mail two weeks ago; they were making the Starz Encore Channels package available for $3 a month for the first six months…and there was no way a classic movie/TV obsessive like myself was going to let that pass me by. Granted, the Encore Channels aren’t what they used to be; for example, the former Encore Mystery is now Encore Suspense…and they don’t offer up goodies like the Whistler/Crime Doctor films or reruns of The Avengers like they have in the past. But Encore Westerns is still solid, with classic TV reruns like Laramie and Tales of Wells Fargo among the featured shows on their schedule.
Now I won’t deny that I had a vested interest in signing up for this package…but I was able to persuade Mom to grab this deal because it would reap benefits for the patriarch of Castle Yesteryear—a man Mom insists is my father and that’s good enough for me. Since losing his sight in his left eye in July (and the sight in his right eye has always been dicey, owing to a childhood incident where he got hit with a projectile) Dad’s activities are limited to watching TV throughout the daylight hours…and 95% of that is tuned to either local news or cable news—both of which are just terrible, and would be a far more effective method of “enhanced interrogation” than waterboarding. (He’s got the living room TV welded to MSNBC—or as I call it, MSDNC—and while you could argue that it could be worse if he watched Fox it’s my firm belief we could lose both channels and life would be considerably brighter as a result.)
So, I thought if we had Encore Westerns it would give us a bit more in the viewing options department. Mom often asks me to put on a movie for him in the evenings (if I didn’t—he’d watch Chris Matthews…and it’s all she can do to keep from putting her foot through the TV when that happens) and said flick must meet the following criteria:
- It must be in color.
- It must be a Western.
Truth be told, Dad’s kind of flexible on that last one: last week, we sat down with Fools Parade (1971)—a caper film set during the Depression in our home state of West-By-God-Virginia, and adapted from the novel penned by Mountain State native Davis Grubb (The Night of the Hunter). (Ask Dad to tell you his Davis Grubb anecdote sometime.) Dad enjoyed that one despite the lack of horseflesh…and he also liked Tell Them Willie Boy is Here (1969), a more modern oater (it takes place in 1909).
I only have so many Westerns in the dusty Thrilling Days of Yesteryear archives (I liquidated a lot of what I had during The Great DVD Purge of 2007) and what remains is mostly monochromatic, particularly since I’m fond of B-Westerns (Hopalong Cassidy, Red Ryder, etc.). It wasn’t going to be long before I ran out of movies to unspool. Encore Westerns has been a godsend, and with those offerings (particularly the stuff I’ve grabbed from On Demand) supplemented with oaters from HDNet Movies and The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ we won’t be starved for six-gun action anytime soon.
I received two nice bonuses with the Encore Channels package: one of them is Movieplex, an Encore-affiliated channel that allowed me to shore up my collection of Gene Autry westerns (again—I love the B stuff) from their On Demand…but which Dad will not watch because black-and-white. The other was the heralded return of GetTV, which we had for a time before we were forced to scale back our initial DISH package under an austerity program a year or so ago. I didn’t get to grab some of the classic TV offerings that channel offered on their schedule some time back (they trotted out a pair of shows featuring Burt Reynolds, Hawk and Dan August) but since its return to the House of Yesteryear I’ll be able to fill in missing installments of Hondo and The Restless Gun. Giddyap!