Way up in the skyscraping numbers of a Brighthouse digital cable box lies a buffet of fabulous channels often unsurfed. Let’s change that.
1. IFC – (113)
Independent Film Channel is the brilliant misfit in a cable theater dominated by shiny HBO and Showtime menus. Here, you can find reruns of the high school burnout Freaks & Geeks (including Seth Rogan and James Franco when they were little ones) and off-the-wall skit shows like Whitest Kids U’ Know. The constant conveyor belt of indie films can cater to anyone’s taste—especially those flicks with one-word titles that require a jab at the Info button. Bully: Teens beat bully (Nick Stahl) to death in a swamp. Yes please.
2. Nicktoons – (144)
No, seriously. Those of you who are aging steadily in your early 20s will understand. You’re a ‘90s Nick kid, and don’t let anyone tell you different. Especially at 3 a.m., when this channel is dishing out an assembly line of Rocko’s Modern Life or old school Ren & Stimpy. If you’re nice and quiet, sometimes you can catch an episode of Action League Now! or Rugrats (before they grew up). If 3 a.m. is too early for your drooping eyelids, DVR is your friend. Happy Happy Joy Joy.
3. Sleuth – (130)
Law and Order. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Law and Order. The Dead Zone. NCIS. NCIS. NCIS. Law and Order: Criminal Intent. House. House. House. House. House. House. House. House. House. House. House. House. House. House. House. House. You figure it out.
4. GSN – (116)
Name something of his wife’s, that a man might secretly use… while Al from Home Improvement hosts one of the rotating Family Feud eras on the Game Show Network. Carlton from Fresh Prince hosts the card-flipping Catch 21 (see if he’ll do the dance) and Chain Reaction is the ultimate compound word game. You can even spot ancient episodes of The $25,000 Pyramid, when people still referred to it as “making whoopee,” and Dick Clark still had dark hair.
5. A&E Biography – (104)
So, you want to know more about topics like: Metallica, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rodney Dangerfield, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Led Zepplin, how Jaws was filmed, Dolly Parton, American Gangsters, Kirstie Alley, Jennifer Lopez, Ozzy Osbourne, Martina McBride, famous mobsters, Psychic Kids and people who have died and lived to tell about it? Sweet. This channel is for you.
6. The Hub – (102)
Before Neil Patrick Harris was filmed snorting coke off a stripper’s ass in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, he was the prepubescent star of Doogie Howser, M.D. The Hub is the digital vortex of all shows nostalgic and corny. Relive “the Fonz” essence along with Kevin Arnold’s life narrator in his Wonder Years. Sprinkle in some Fraggle Rock, Laverne & Shirley and Batman episodes from the ‘60s, and you’ve got a time machine that’s only three clicks away. “When last we saw the dynamic duo…”
7. Logo – (147)
Thanks to MTV, members of the LGBT universe finally have a channel to call their own. Sketch shows like Jeffery & Cole Casserole or The Big Gay Sketch Show can cater to anybody with a good sense of humor, while reruns of Queer as Folk and The L Word gladly run alongside the occasional Buffy marathon. When an exploding disco ball of color is flashing on your flatscreen, Rupaul’s Drag U is about to begin. Watch how Drag Professors help women find their “inner drag diva” through hilarious transformations that are way more entertaining than that Real World nonsense. Oh look—MTV finally did something cool.
8. Cooking Channel – (142)
Just when we thought charming English chef Jamie Oliver vanished from food TV, we rejoice—he’s simply relocated to Food Network’s sister channel. Aside from Jamie at Home, you can also find delicious deviants like Bitchin’ Kitchen and elderly episodes of Iron Chef that still scream “Allez Cuisine!” While you’re here, try to catch a Food(ography) on your favorite network chef and thank the Food Gods that Bobby Flay’s Throwdown tantrums get rare airtime on channel 142.
9. ID. – (135)
Investigation Discovery is the dark alleyway for Whodunit junkies. Mysterious shows can range from I (Almost) Got Away With It to Cold Blood or The FBI Files. This channel’s sweet psych role is fulfilled by Most Evil, with criminal profiling of stalkers, murderers and people who… eat other people. Hey, someone’s gotta do it. BUT WHY?
10. Current TV – (128)
Can you watch someone Kill It, Cook It, Eat It? Depending on your gag reflex, each hour-long episode descends into the gory underworld of the food industry. Watch as six volunteers pick a cow out of pasture, take part in its cycle of death and debate whether they want to eat the fresh burger on their plate. Sensitive stomach? Follow Vanguard to bust pot growers, locate ecstasy labs or experience other in-your-face realities. With random documentaries about gaming addiction or Kurt Cobain, channel 128 will wear out that buzzing DVR of yours. Reality TV that’s good for your brain… What. A. Concept.
marieclaire.com (Gwyneth Paltrow)
amateurgourmet.com (Iron Chef)