Spike TV Offers Lots of Old Programming

For a supposedly "new" TV network, Spike TV is offering an awful lot that's old.

When TNN premieres its new name on Monday, Aug. 11 — the one that was so recently the subject of a court battle with Spike Lee — a healthy portion of its weekday lineup will still consist of moldy oldies — including reruns of "Baywatch," "Miami Vice" and "American Gladiators."

Yes — "American Gladiators." This show was so cheap when it was first on that I'm surprised someone sprung for videotape on which to preserve it. But preserve it they did, which turns out to be a boon for Spike since "Gladiators" takes up two hours of afternoon airtime.

Spike TV, of course, is the revamped, MTV-owned cable channel that ballyhoos itself as "The First Network for Men" — which would actually be a first if there weren't so many sports channels, plus Comedy Central, which also aim everything they do at male viewers.

But I like a slogan with ". . . for Men" in it — "Hair Club for Men," "Entertainment for Men" (Playboy's motto) — they're all good.

As a man, though, I withhold judgment on whether Spike TV will be for me until I watch a little bit of it.

A look at the channel's initial lineup, though, reveals little that can hold my attention for more than a few minutes, with the possible exception of "The A-Team" at 11 a.m., but only if I come across the show during a scene with Mr. T. Otherwise, forget it.

The semiofficial start of Spike TV begins on the 11th at 8 p.m. with a new special, "Party with Spike" — a party at the Playboy Mansion with guests such as Pamela Anderson (search), Carmen Electra (search), Kelsey Grammer (search) (he's the voice of a cartoon rat on Spike named Gary), Kid Rock (search) and Busta Rhymes (search).

Pardon me for saying so, but it's no trick these days to book Pam Anderson for a guest appearance — she'd show up for the opening of an envelope.

For that matter, are any of these celebrities really all that cool anymore? Is the Playboy Mansion? And what about Hugh Hefner? That guy's about as hip as my dead granny.

All I'm trying to say is that, from the looks of it, Spike TV has a long way to go before it becomes widely known as "The Manliest Man Channel in the Whole QQQPOUNDQQQ@$%&! Universe."

Until then, there is a bright spot on the lineup premiering on Aug. 16, a little show called "Ride with Funkmaster Flex," in which the boisterous DJ visits celebrities such as Eminem and Lil' Kim and takes a ride with them in their cars.

It's a nice show, not least because it's new — which is something most shows ought to be on a "new" network.