Everyone has their guilty pleasures, and “Laguna Beach” parties on Monday nights are no exception. Thanks to Comcast Cable, all Yalies can now indulge in the privacy of their own suites. With free cable connected into practically every room at Yale, students are sure to broaden their small-screen horizons. The prospect of 70-plus channels may seem daunting, but here is a guide to steer you through the uncharted territory.
Spike TV (Channel 53)
For those oozing testosterone and seeking entertainment packed with carnage, bizarre stunts and “ass-kicking-ness” (to quote the channel’s Web site), look no further than Spike TV. In addition to countless hours of CSI reruns, Spike TV also features numerous macho network originals. Tune in to “The Ultimate Fighter 2” — yes, it made it past the first season — if you crave a sadistic encounter between WWF and “The Real World.” Watch as 18 mixed-martial-arts fighters live together and compete for two Ultimate Fighting Championship contracts. Anyone who can resist the charm of washed-up karate kids should check out “Spike’s Most Amazing Videos,” a collection of the “most heart-pounding and unbelievable moments ever captured on film.” Perhaps more offbeat than unbelievable, the show includes footage of explosive weddings and bullfights gone awry.
Travel Channel (Channel 38)
For those more interested in globetrotting than ass-kicking, flip to the Travel Channel. The network’s best show, Samantha Brown’s “Passport to Europe,” is sure to appeal to those glamorous Yalies planning their summer tours through Europe. Ms. Brown includes the audience in her quest to discover the finest hotels, restaurants and museums from Pamplona to Prague. For those bored with the European scene, “World’s Best List” showcases the cream of the crop in all destinations around the globe, from amusement parks to beach resorts. Even if your travels are more likely to take you to a family reunion in Kansas City, the Travel Channel has programs such as “Most Haunted” that are intended to entertain rather than to guide. In this spooky show, ghost-busters investigate legendary haunted locations across Europe (this one’s a sure-fire fright!).
Game Show Network (Channel 70)
Can’t get enough of Jeopardy? Don’t worry, you’re not alone — this is Yale, after all. The Game Show Network provides us with reruns of favorites, such as “Family Feud” and “Who Wants to be A Millionaire” (check out the interactive option for your once-in-a-lifetime chance to play virtually with Regis). GSN also has its own snazzy lineup of modern “classics.” In “Extreme Dodgeball” — think Ben Stiller, not third-grade gym class — watch as six championship teams, such as the New York Bling and the Philadelphia Benjamins, make their hometowns proud with the finest displays of grace and athleticism.
YES Network (Channel 32)
True sports fans, especially those hailing from New York, should tune in to YES. You can be sure to catch every moment of the Yankees’ greatness — even if that means reruns of classic games. YES special programs include extensive biographies of, and interviews with, the players of America’s so-called ‘greatest team.’ YES pays tribute to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in the “Boston vs. New York Poker Challenge,” in which six natives from each city gamble for bragging rights. To further fuel the New Yorker ego, the network celebrates Giants football in “This Week in Football.” YES is also the home to Ivy League football. If you can’t make it to Yale’s home game against Brown Saturday, the game will be aired at noon on YES. (A flurry of Yalies across campus are now programming their TiVos.)
Bravo (Channel 66)
Still channel-surfing? Check out Bravo, the home of the has-been and the reality-TV star. Viewers have become all too familiar with the dysfunctional antics of Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, along with Kathy Griffin’s painful struggle to make it off of Hollywood’s D-list. Even lesser-known “celebrities,” desperate for airtime, flaunt their utter lameness on “Celebrity Poker.” The network also subtly reaches out to the gay community with shows such as “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, “Boy Meets Boy” and “Great Things About Being … Queer.” “Boy Meets Boy,” TV’s first gay reality dating show, chronicles one handsome lawyer’s trials and tribulations in his search for the perfect companion.
Don’t get too attached to this beautiful gift from Comcast — in a month, channel options will dwindle to the standard Nightly News faire. Unless you are willing to fork over $47.50 monthly, be prepared to leave the posh California “reality” and delve into the 4,000 pages of Cold War reading you’ve put off for the last two months.