Manassas Journal Messenger | Current TV: information in small bits

So you didn’t become president. What’s a former vice president to do?

Start your own cable channel.

Al Gore did just that earlier this month with Current TV.

Gore promised that Current would be youth-driven (meaning 18-to-34-year-olds) and that it would be interactive.

So far, it’s been repetitive.

Earnest is another word that comes to mind.

Current dispenses small bits of information in doses of mere seconds to five minutes or so. A lot of its content – and this is the best part – comes from amateur videographers, such as the duo who went to Chugwater, Mont., to report on an almost-ghost town.

Its narrator-filmmaker talked his way through the story while driving, turning his head to look at the camera. Good thing he was filming in an unpopulated area.

Also aired are cautionary tales, such as the segments about a fight club in Tokyo and a former gang member in Los Angeles trying to restart his life.

A lot of this comes across like Kurt Loder’s more earnest moments on MTV. Maybe that’s why I keep waiting for a music video. Surprisingly, given the target audience, I’ve seen very little entertainment news. Even more surprising, given the founder, I’ve seen even less political news.

Most of its subject matter (but not all) is under 30: a start-up fashion model in L.A., a young designer who makes Barneys-worthy clothes from used clothing. A number of lifestyle pieces from Germany have aired this week, including a segment about young Berliners who go to junkyards where they’re given sledgehammers.

“I feel much better after smashing cars,” said one young woman.

Well, that’s certainly news to use.

The regular features include Current Flashbacks, which all seem to be items about the 1990s, and more from the celebrity side than world-event side.

Seen this week were flashbacks to the verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial and Magic Johnson’s announcement that he was HIV positive. Both reports came from the CBS News/Dan Rather vaults. Talk about anti-hip.

There’s also a constant stream of on-screen trivia provided by Google, such as: What are the top 10 searched baseball teams on the Internet? Which brings us to Current’s other half – its presence on the Web.

Since every TV channel or network has a presence on the Web, you can’t get too excited about that. Although there’s a fair amount of content on, including past video clips to download, the Internet site doesn’t offer a video stream of the TV channel.

Current is meant for casual viewing: Tune out and tune in at any point – unless you’ve tuned in recently.

The annoying thing about Current, if you’re planning to watch for any length of time, is its repeat factor. Programming airs in four-hour blocks, which then repeat – sometimes the next day as well. So far, we haven’t seen anything we need to watch a second time.

Contact Douglas Durden at (804) 649-6359 or [email protected]


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