Aug 25, 2012 (The Oregonian - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Think political campaigns are nasty They've got nothing on the hostilities circulating around the standoff between the cable channel AMC and Dish Network, the satellite TV service. You don't have to be a Dish subscriber to have been caught up in the crossfire. Comcast subscribers, for example, who were happy to watch "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" in peace have been subjected to repeated AMC messages about Dish Network not carrying those shows, because it's not carrying AMC.
In addition, Dish isn't carrying other channels in the AMC Networks family, including IFC, the cable home of "Portlandia," the Sundance Channel and WE tv.
The conflict between AMC Networks and Dish can seem as complex and high-stakes as any battle waged on "Game of Thrones." Both sides disagree about the exact nature of the dispute. And neither side appears willing to capitulate to the other's wishes.
If you missed how this all started, it blew up in early July, when Dish changed its lineup, dropping AMC, IFC and other AMC Networks channels, and substituting other channels in their stead. But the roots predate that move, going back to an ongoing dispute between Dish and AMC Networks.
As Brian Stelter wrote in The New York Times, the Dish people were supposedly protesting AMC Networks charging too much and requiring Dish to carry all of their channels. Stelter quoted a Dish exec's statement, describing "low-rated channels like IFC and WE tv" as not that desirable.
For its part, AMC Networks contends that Dish made its changes because of an ongoing lawsuit between the companies. The breach of contract lawsuit, which is scheduled to go to trial in mid-September, was filed in 2008 in response to Dish dropping AMC-provided channels from its service. The AMC Networks camp says that, in lieu of settling the lawsuit, the Dish powers-that-be dug in their heels and dropped the AMC Networks channels in July.
Mind-numbing as it may be to contemplate these long-simmering battles over long-gone cable channels, AMC Networks' retaliatory tactics to the Dish move have been pretty entertaining.
Obviously figuring that the return of the Emmy-winning "Breaking Bad" would appeal to frustrated Dish subscribers, AMC made the first episode of the season available as a live stream on amctv.com.
But the biggest weapon in the AMC Networks arsenal is the Oct. 14 return of "The Walking Dead," the zombie-apocalypse drama whose fans possess an undead-like ravenous appetite for the show. This week, AMC launched a viral campaign, "A. Zombie for President," which it calls "committed to equal viewing opportunities for all," and is "paid for by citizens who want zombies back on Dish."
The website (azombieforpresident.com) includes the candidate's position statements on various issues, such as the economy: "The average American family has a lot on its plate. But frankly, nothing good on its DISH."
This sounds like it's going to get worse before it gets better. Better batten down the hatches, "Walking Dead" fans. They're coming to get you.
"Leverage": This week, the filmed-in-Portland series moves to its new time slot (9 p.m.) and offers what looks like a hoot of an episode, with the team in '70s nostalgia mode as Nate (Timothy Hutton) finds himself becoming obsessed with trying to get to the bottom of the D.B. Cooper case. (9 p.m., TNT)
"Breaking Bad": Next week is the last episode before the series takes a break -- and it won't return for its final eight episodes until next year. While this first half has had some good moments -- among them last week's memorably uncomfortable dinner at the Whites' with Jesse (Aaron Paul) trying to make chipper small talk -- overall, it feels like the wheels have been spinning. I'm anxious to see if things move forward -- for good or, let's be realistic, bad -- in tonight's outing. (10 p.m., AMC)
"The Newsroom": Aaron Sorkin's love-it-or-hate-it opus wraps up its first season, with troubling news for Mac (Emily Mortimer), and more conflict between Savior of Journalism Will (Jeff Daniels) and all those people who are less enlightened. (10 p.m., HBO)
Update: Because of threatening weather, the Republican National Convention is canceling its first day.2012 Republican National Convention: Coverage of the opening day of the Tampa, Fla., convention, co-anchored by Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill. (5 p.m., PBS/10)
"Bachelor Pad": Last week, we saw Beaverton's Tony Pieper getting more camera time, and making a connection with fellow pad-dweller Blakeley Jones. Will more sparks fly this week Oh, and the challenge this week: a spelling bee. (8 p.m., ABC/2)
"Grimm": After two weeks of focusing on Nick (David Giuntoli), his mother (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) and her coma, and the hidden self of Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz), this week we find Hank (Russell Hornsby) reconnecting with an old friend who needs his help. We can't help but wonder: does Juliette still not remember who Nick is Where did Nick's mom go off to with those magic coins And when will Captain Renard take off his shirt again (We admit it -- we're shallow that way.) (10 p.m., NBC/8)
"MasterChef": With Monti Carlo and her ridiculous name out of the running, we're down to four amateur cook finalists, Christine Ha, Josh Marks, Frank Mirando and Becky Reams. They'll compete to move on to the top three. (9 p.m., Fox/12)
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart": It's not just PBS that's covering the 2012 Republican National Convention. Stewart and his team continue their "Democalypse 2012" coverage from Tampa with a week of shows they're calling, "RNC 2012: The Road to Jeb Bush 2012." (11 p.m., Comedy Central)
"Paranormal Witness": In "The Dybbuk Box," we visit a Portland antiques dealer who, according to the episode synopsis, "ignores warnings not to open the old wine box he bought at a Holocaust survivor's estate sale and unleashes a malevolent spirit that wreaks havoc on his life." But the trouble doesn't stop there -- not when the box gets sold on eBay to a university student who encounters his own problems. This calls for Jason Haxton, who makes it "his mission to discover the origins of the Dybbuk box." I blame eBay. Or spirits. One or the other. (10 p.m., Syfy)
"Necessary Roughness": Michael Imperioli ("The Sopranos") guest stars on the season finale. (10 p.m., USA)
"The Next": After the summertime flop "Duets," here's another example that viewers might be getting bored with talent competitions. This one hasn't drawn very many viewers interested in seeing mentors John Rich, Joe Jonas, Gloria Estefan and Nelly work with hopeful performers. (9 p.m., the CW)
"Grimm": Another chance to see Monday's episode. (9 p.m., NBC/8)
"Boss": The Kelsey Grammer drama about Chicago political chicanery may still be trying to find viewers, but it got the Oprah Winfrey stamp of approval when Winfrey recently called it her "new favorite show." (9 p.m., Starz)
"Doctor Who": In major geek news, the fan-adored "Doctor Who" returns for a five-episode run as part of BBC America's "Supernatural Saturday." Matt Smith stars as the doctor, and the executive producer and lead writer is Steven Moffat, who gave us the terrific "Sherlock." (9 p.m., BBC America)
-- Kristi Turnquist on Twitter
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