Here’s what happened. I was looking for something to watch one night, and that meant a game of cable box roulette – scroll up the dial until something catches my attention, whether it be the Alaskan railroad show on National Geographic, or a Bar Rescue episode on Paramount Network that I’ve only seen about 20 times already…
You know what? I haven’t watched the El Rey Network in a while. Let’s see what’s there.
El Rey is a cable channel that features a mixture of classic action films and dramas, along with a few scripted shows. They were the network that ran four seasons of Lucha Underground, the cool serialized wrestling show that not only explained Lucha Libre wrestling to the uninitiated, but it also brought in some cool storylines.
Thankfully, Pentagon Jr. is now in AEW, while Prince Puma wrestles in WWE as Ricochet. But enough about that.
I also mentioned that El Rey Network is a great repository for action films, they have great tribute runs of awesome wuxia and other kung fu classics.
Ooh, they’re showing Golden Swallow, the sequel to the classic Hong Kong action film Come Drink With Me. I’ll get some popcorn and watch this …
Well, that’s what I planned.
Until I got to Channel 145 on my cable box and saw the words “This channel no longer exists.”
Oh, man, did El Rey Network become a victim of the pandemic too?
No. El Rey Network is still on the air.
But it’s not on Spectrum, my current cable television provider.
This has happened before with El Rey, they were taken off of DirecTV for a time. Mostly it’s due to contract negotiations between the cable network and the cable provider, which seems to happen every so often.
But here’s the thing. When this happens, or is about to happen, we cable customers get these cryptic hostage messages saying, “Spectrum wants to drop our channel, call Spectrum and demand they keep us.” Or it’s, “The Chocolate Network is demanding outrageous fees to stay on our network, call them and demand that they agree to the terms of their previous contract.”
And then after a day or two of these hostage negotiations, both sides agree to terms, our cable rates go up another $3 per channel, and that is that.
Not this time. There wasn’t a warning. El Rey Network disappeared in an instant. Without a warning.
Oh, wait. When I contacted Spectrum, I was told Spectrum’s usual steaming-pile-of-bullshit story about how “Oh, we told you in your cable bill that El Rey Network would be leaving our channel in late September, you should read your cable bill.”
Are you kidding me right now?
How many of you actually READ your entire cable bill? Here’s what I do. Spectrum bill arrives. I open it. Turn to the page where I see how much they’re gouging me this month. I make a payment. End of story. I don’t have time to hear their crapola about how Spectrum has its own cell phone provider (another way to tether you into their clutches), I don’t have time to hear their crapola about how Spectrum is here for you in the community (yeah, so long as you pay your bill and your tribute to them), and how Spectrum really tries to save you money (with their wonky math, your bill is going up $25/month but we’ll give you a $10/month discount on that because you’re such a good customer).
And you’re thinking to me, “Chuck, it’s only El Rey Network. Who gives two rattles about a tiny niche channel like El Rey?”
I do, for starters. I like niche cable channels.
What’s next, you gonna pull the Vice Channel? Is Me-TV next? How about Comet? When will it end, brothers and sisters?
At this point, though, I guess I’m resigned to the fact that El Rey’s gone from my Spectrum dial, it’s not coming back, and all Spectrum cares about is adding more infomercial channels and shopping channels and screwing me out of sports channels because they’ve bundled the one channel I watch with nine that I don’t…
They’re not going to listen to me.
I need someone who will fight for me.
Let’s see… El Rey Network was created by director Robert Rodriguez.
And there’s one person who appears in nearly every single one of Robert Rodriguez’ films.
Hey, Spectum… Let me introduce you to my spokesperson.
That’s right. Bring back El Rey Network, or you get a visit from my man Machete.
And if that’s not enough convincing…
Let me introduce you to Golden Swallow.
Now bring back my El Rey Network, Spectrum, or the next visit you get is from this guy. His name is Mil Muertes.
I’m waiting, Spectrum… don’t make me call my friends.