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TVLine Asks: Which Basic Cable Channel Chops Up Movies the Worst?

Spider-Man Far From Home

The question is as simple as it is specific (and random): Which basic cable channel does the most insufferable hatchet job when airing a movie?

Now, I know, I know — you can hunt down most any movie on Hulu, HBO Max, Paramount+, Disney+ et al, and then watch it uninterrupted. But sometimes you don’t want to deal with option paralysis and spend more time scrolling row of tiles after row of tiles than actually, you know, watching something.

No, sometimes you instead just want to scan your on-screen cable guide for the red rectangles (their color on FiOS at least) and choose from a mere handful of movies that are airing at the time of your boredom. You simply want to choose between, like, Olympus Has Fallen, Bridesmaids, Olympus Has Fallen, The Shawshank Redemption and The Shawshank Redemption. Even better, you hope to hop on a bit late, so you don’t need to sit through any slow, familiar prologue and ideally arrive right in time for the good stuff/memorable set piece (“It’s coming out of me like lava!!!”).

But man, what a tradeoff that can be, depending on which basic cable channel you land on. Because if streaming and DVRing has taught us anything, it is that commercial breaks are the worst.

And the only thing worse than basic cable’s frustratingly frequent, often ill-timed ad breaks is when they are for the same… dang… products, all… night… long. (I was rewatching something on Syfy recently — Spider-Man: Far From Home, maybe? — and if I saw the promo for Resident Alien Season 2 once, I saw it two dozen times.)

Again I acknowledge, yes, you can fire up a streaming app and scroll-scroll-scrollllll for something that piques your interest, from hundreds of options. But does anyone else out there sometimes prefer — in the interest of quickly putting a half hour of something into your eyeballs before a favorite show starts, or to put off bedtime — to choose from a handful of basic cable offerings, and then suffer the self-inficted consequences?

And if you are like me, is any one basic cable channel (Syf, TNT, Freeform, etc.) more atrocious than others when it comes to 1) the number of ad breaks, 2) the placement of them (right before that epic fight?!), and 3) the repetitiveness of them? Sound off below!

Coming up next in TVLine Asks (in my head, at least): Why does basic cable always show the WIll Smith/Martin Lawrence Bad Boys, and not the seminal 1983 juvie prison flick that confirmed Sean Penn as a rising star and introduced Esai Morales?