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The Fall of G4TV, Part 3 January 12, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Histories, The Fall of G4.
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After discovering that Hearst was no longer interested with turning G4 into the Esquire Network, I seriously thought I would never have to revisit this article and create a third part of this series.  I figured this meant that Hearst was interested in breathing new life into a station that they had shut down, and was optimistic about the future for the station.  Today I just noticed that my cable provider has dropped the G4 channel from my channel lineup without informing me of it.  To quote Doc Brown, “What kind of a future do you call that?”  Given the fact that I’m paying hundreds of dollars a month for HD Cable TV, my provider terminating access to the G4 channel without informing me about it ahead of time was a pretty underhanded trick.  They severed my connection to a channel that had meant so much to me just as I was hoping things would be getting better with it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s start from the beginning.

If you look in your digital channel lineup you can find a little station on the list somewhere between MTV2 and Encore called G4 or G4TV. You’ll also note that the schedule for that station will likely only include reruns of Cops and Cheaters.  If I told you, and you didn’t know any better, you probably wouldn’t believe that station used to be the premiere station for gaming coverage.  You’ll probably also wonder if they were a station for gaming coverage why do they only show reruns of Cops and Cheaters, as well as a few other international shows nobody cares about.  Well, it’s a story that goes back a long time, but I have no problem telling you it.  It’s a sad story with a very sad ending, but just like with Halo Reach, even though you know how it ends from the beginning, it’s still a story you want to hear.

I understand that it has been a while since I posted an article in this series on my site, so I would like to take this opportunity to direct any new readers or to both of the earlier parts of this series.  To fully understand how disappointed I am with this development, you should read Part 1, which details the station’s best years from its launch to it’s merger with Tech TV, and Part 2, which details the station’s downfall, after corporate meddling nearly destroyed it.

By the time of the year 2011, the majority of the content G4 ran on a regular basis was syndicated reruns from shows like Cops or Cheaters.  G4 was only airing two shows which they were producing new episodes for a regular basis, and both of the shows were never part of the station’s initial lineup.  X Play, the game review show which they acquired when they merged with Tech TV, and Attack of the Show, which was a renamed version of The Screen Savers, another carry over from the Tech TV merger.  Sadly, both of the shows weren’t doing as well as they could have been.  While audiences enjoyed the personalities of the show’s hosts, the writing at the time was not wining any awards with the viewers.  In fact, it was borderline incompetent.  I can think of a few game reviews that aired which made glaring errors like X Play’s review of Metroid: Other M which had a complaint that there was no way to dodge incoming projectiles when in fact there was in fact a dodge move in the game.  There were other bad reviews which just came down to a matter of taste, like their Duke Nukem Forever review which gave the game a 1 out of 5 simply because of the game’s offensive content.  While the review’s writer may have truly been offended by game’s subject matter, the review came off more as a childish lashing out against a game which had been in development for so long, not as a professional review on the game itself.  Although to be honest, I felt most game reviewers were unfair to this game. In fact, even Jon St. John, the voice of Duke Nukem himself, made a mention of this during my interview with him at ConnectiCon 2013, although he didn’t mention any reviewers in particular.  So as you can tell, by this point, I wasn’t watching G4 any more for its gaming content, as I felt that it no longer had any standards for which I could relate to.

But it’s unfair to say that X Play and Attack of the Show were G4’s only shows.  For a few years, they were experimenting with different show ideas every couple of months, but they were mostly hit or miss.  Sadly, most of them had nothing to do with gaming (which is odd for a gaming focused TV station), but not all of them were bad.  Jump City Seattle was a freerunning athletic competition where athletes from all over the world showed off their skills.  It had nothing to do with gaming but it was a well produced show where you could see athletes like Brian “nosole” Orosco and his mustache do some fantastic moves that defied what we thought was possible with the human body.  Web Soup was basically the show Ridiculousness with a host that wasn’t as funny as Rob Dyrdek.  It’s Effin’ Science showed how science could be used in cool ways, and tossed in a few explosions for good measure.

While not all of these shows were winners, I found a lot of them enjoyable.  G4 was also experimenting with airing different syndicated content, and instead of showing just episodes of Cops and Cheaters, they started showing some classic science-fiction shows including one of the greatest shows ever produced, Quantum Leap.  I was too young to enjoy the show when it was new, but by the time it came to G4, I couldn’t stop watching it.

Things weren’t perfect, but for the first time I started to be optimistic that G4 could improve.  Things at G4 were starting to look up, but little did we all know that by the time the station hit its stride, it was doomed.  Stay tuned to this site for Part 4 of this article, where I’m going to detail the end of G4, just as it had started to get good again.