If you’ve never been exposed to the entertaining wonder that is Classic Arts Showcase, it’s time to upgrade your television viewing experience. I could bore you with a retelling of the history of this fully funded highbrow clip show that runs seemingly endlessly in eight hour blocks on cable networks across the country (and is now online for even more people to check out), but that’s what the link to the official site is for. Actually, CAS is rarely “boring” unless you COMPLETELY hate the arts and don’t want to see some of the most unique and completely RANDOM performances from stage, screen and even TV, many of which are unavailable elsewhere.
In case you’re THAT lazy, here’s what the CAS site says about their programming:
Expect the Unexpected
There is no program guide for CAS, because the beauty of CAS is that you’ll never know what to expect. One moment you might be watching a rare film of George Gershwin performing one of his own compositions on the piano, and less than five minutes later you might see Beverly Sills in a great moment from a classic opera. Each weekly eight-hour show is downlinked by hundreds of channels across the country at different times, with different schedules. The element of surprise — not knowing exactly what’s coming up next — is part of what CAS is all about. The goal is to generate excitement and build a new audience for the wide range of performances presented through the arts.
And I can VERY safely say that the randomness indeed makes CAS so much fun to watch. Yesterday I happened to flip by the channel here with about 45 minutes of free time floating about and caught a long clip from a Hitchcock film, a bit of Swan Lake, an aria or two, a clip from the film Aria, a fun bit of an old TV show that had a waltz turning into a sort of sock hop and back again, and part of a Nat King Cole TV performance before I had to head out the door. How cool is that? Sometimes you’ll see old animation, sometimes a musical performance or super-arty film segment, an brief interview with a long dead genius and more. This fragmented presentation recalls MTV in its early days when it played stuff seemingly at will, although if you watch CAS long enough, you’ll see there’s a method to the non-madness.
Anyway, if you’re bored this summer thanks to the TV dry spell, give Classic Arts Showcase a look-see and if you find yourself strangely addicted to it, well… my work here is done.