After many years as a Comcast customer (and before that, Cablevision), I recently switched to Verizon's FIOS service. I did so, not only because I could bundle my Internet service, landline phone and TV into one cost-effective bill, but because Comcast's Customer Service (as I am sure many of you know) was something even less than deplorable. I do find that the picture is better and the FIOS CS reps are far more polite and responsive. And I must note that when I returned my Comcast digital box, they never even bothered to ask why I was dropping their service, nor offered me any incentives to stay with them. Honestly, I hope they soon go out of business - that's how awful they are.
But even before I made the switch, I dropped my "premium" pay-channels (HBO, Showtime, etc.). Despite a few original series I loved ("Dead Like Me;" "Queer as Folk;" "Six Feet Under;" "Carnivale"), the premium channels offered movies I'd either already seen in the theater or had rented on DVD. Now, as part of my subscription to FIOS, I have a free trial to all the premium channels again. Picking through their offerings, I decided to watch a few movies I'd never seen. The first was Reno 911!: Miami. Based on the Comedy Central series, the movie was more of the same comic idiocy we've all come to expect from the crew at "Reno 911!" but with more foul language and some graphic nudity (little of which appealed to me, as it mostly consisted of women's bare boobies). Amusing, but hardly worth the $9.00 it would have cost me to see it in the cinema, even though it does feature my favorite reality TV show hostess, Niecy Nash of Style Network's "Clean House. "
Next, I stumbled upon a true gem of crap - the Hilary Swank "horror " movie The Reaping.
Swank (who's won not one, but two Oscars) is a religious 'debunker.' A former missionary whose family was murdered in the Sudan, Swank now spends her days as college professor who proves that miracles aren't miracles at all. When she is asked to investigate a town which seems to be expriencing the Biblical plagues of "Exodus," she and her assistant head down to the bayou to check it out. It seems that the town blames a beautiful little girl for their woes (a river turned to blood, a rain of frogs and kids full of head lice) and they expect Swank to kill her for them. Not only is Swank's faith tested, but so is our patience. Stephen Rae (The Crying Game) plays Swank's friend and mentor, a priest who wisely stays out of the main action and literally phones in his performance. It turns out that town is filled with evil folks and the young girl is actually an angel, sent to prevent the coming of the anti-Christ, or some such nonsense. I couldn't be sure because the script, by Carey and Chad Hayes makes no sense at all. There are some intersting CGI FX and an appearance by William Ragsdale (Gremlins) as the Sherriff, but mostly this movie made my head hurt. In fact, The Reaping is so bad, I wanted to ask for my money back, even though I hadn't paid a dime to see it. I ask you, it too much to expect that a two-time Academy Award-winning actress be in a movie that not only makes sense, but is actually entertaining? I think not.
Needless to say, if this is the kind of fare being offered on "Premium" channels, I'll be calling up to cancel as soon as my free trial is over. On the bright side, FIOS does offer more HD channels than Comcast and the picture is measurably sharper. If you have an HD Television and FIOS is available in your area (it's not available in about half of the area in which I live), go for it. You won't be sorry.