When we first brought home our HDTV—a 50-inch Panasonic plasma—in 2006, and turned it on, my husband and I were dismayed by the dearth of luscious HD content on which to feast our eyes. But our cable provider had deigned to gift us with at least one channel that played all HD, all the time. I was dubious at first, after all, MOJO HD is clearly marketed to men, but I quickly got into MOJO.
The channel’s marquis act is Three Sheets with Zane Lamprey, a madcap series that follows a comedian/host (Lamprey) as he travels the world to learn the drinking customs and histories of cities and nations. Filled with local food, drinking games, and the requisite middling hangover cure, Three Sheets seems like a show that would appeal only to fraternity brothers and epicureans.
Instead, Lamprey’s oftentimes dry wit appeals to the kind of people who also enjoy the travel writing of, say, Bill Bryson. When I visited Brussels in 2007, I made a point of sitting on the very same bar stool in the prodigious beer bar that Lamprey hosted the Brussels episode from. That’s the kind of cult following that Three Sheets engenders, and I’m just a casual fan. Pleepleus, I’ll miss you, and I hope a more forward-thinking company buys the rights to Three Sheets.
Other MOJO shows to make an appearance on my DVR? After Hours With Daniel, a behind-the-restaurant-scene show hosted by acclaimed French chef Daniel Boulud, that showed what delicious dishes cocky chefs cook for each other to show off after their restaurants have closed for the night. The second season hit up many of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles, where I live.
One of MOJO’s best uses of its expensive, advanced high-def cameras was the broadcast of London Live, a half-hour music show that captured live performances of mostly British bands. Concert footage can be lame, but in high-def, it was thrilling.
What’s In Demand’s logic for killing off this niche-y, yet much-loved channel? “The Mojo HD channel was originally conceived as a way to satisfy consumers’ thirst for pure true high definition programming,” according to the company’s statement. “While Mojo HD accomplished this goal, there is a wealth of HD programming now available and thus we have chosen to discontinue the service.”
Well, In Demand, I just may have to discontinue my cable service. There may be a wealth of HD programming available in some cities and through some service providers, but I’d wager that most HDTV-lovers aren’t satisfied with the amount they’re getting today. Providers like DirecTV, Verizon FIOS, Time Warner Cable and Comcast beat customers over the head with promises for more new HD channels, not fewer.
If the business climate for high-quality original HD channels is so bad that some of the best have to shutter their doors, it doesn’t give subscribers much confidence in the lowest common denominator that the other channels must sink to in order to stay afloat.