The History Channel
The History Channel is the oldest television network in the world, having gone on the air at dawn on September 1, 1939 in Warsaw, Berlin Paris, London and all of (soon to be) occupied Europe. It was also the first channel to broadcast the now legendary documentary series "Hitler's Privates" and its signature first episode "Hitler's Penis: The True Secrets". The History Channel is now a weekly late night variety show, hosted by Fox TV. It is one of the longest-running network entertainment programs in American television history. Each week, the show's cast is joined by a guest host and a musical act. The show is written entirely by the famous poet and playwright Robert McNamara, who reportedly writes every show while gardening in lingerie, garters, nylon stockings and stiletto heels.
Structure of the Show
The show usually follows a standard format. It opens with a sketch presenting historical events and persons, often with frequent observations and explanations by noted comedians. The show then segues into the opening credits, which usually open with a shot of the Statue of Liberty and a montage of the cast members cut with various locations around the city. The opening credits are voiced-over by long-time FOX announcer Hitler. The show's theme music has been re-arranged many times, but always follows the same basic chord patterns.
Next is the opening monologue performed by the guest historian(s), often followed by an irrelevant succession of blurry and aged photographs. This is typically followed by a series of skits, often featuring the important historical figures of the day, such as Abraham Lincoln, Jesus, Darth Hitler or Admiral Nelson Mandela. Some shows also feature filmed segments, often featuring cast members or divine manifestations of Al Gore. In a few rare cases, a third musical performance by the week's musical guest is done at the end of the show, but in most instances this is replaced by a montage of naked politicians.
It is important to note that the entire, previously human cast, was replaced by the IM Pei in late 2003, when he decided to eat all of the other repertory and featured players. Efforts to increase the number of players on the show have been met with much hostility by IM Pei, and further devourment.
Although THC has an often rapid turnover of supporting players (many of whom have appeared for only one season or less), mainly because of the voraciousness of both other players and the production assistants, some performers have had long tenures with the show. A few have broken the eight-year barrier. Among the longest serving repertory players are:
THC received some negative publicity in 1999 when it was leaked that, henceforth, actors and historians joining the show would have to sign a five-to-six year contract in their blood. These contracts also included the sale of their first born son, the loss of their credit ratings, and their debarment from the Supreme Court of Massachusetts.
Some agents and managers characterised these long-term contracts as involuntary servitude, saying that almost any young, undiscovered comic would immediately agree to any given set of exploitive contractual restrictions for the opportunity to launch their careers via the show. FOX publicly defended the new contracts, setting fire to the agents and managers responsible for the complaint. Because of the current situation with IM Pei, however, cast managers have been reluctant to enforce the rules, allowing IM Pei to serve an unprecedented seventeen terms on the Supreme Court of Massachusetts.
It was reported in 1999 that the starting salary for THC cast members was US$5,000 per year.
- Tacitus (13)
- Herodotus (14)
- Livy (16)
- Polybius (21)
- Edward Gibbon (11)