Showtime is a premium cable TV channel that airs movies, boxing and comedy specials, and several original television shows. It reaches over 20 million subscribers, and subscribers can view all Showtime content online with a service identical to HBO GO.
The History of Showtime
In 1976, Viacom launched the original Showtime channel in California. Two years later, Viacom began to transmit Showtime via satellite, putting the channel into direct competition with HBO.
By 1982, Showtime was delivering original content. “Falcon’s Gold” and “Faerie Tale Theatre” debuted to moderate success, and the 1983 merger with The Movie Channel solidified the brand. Pay-per-view content would follow just five years later.
For many years, Showtime was owned by Viacom. Viacom split up in 2005, and CBS Corporation picked up the channel as well as The Movie Channel, Smithsonian Channel, and Flix. Showtime receives many Paramount, Disney, Miramax, DreamWorks, and IFC films before other channels.
Top Showtime Shows
Like other premium channels, Showtime attracts a large subscriber base by airing high quality dramas and other shows with excellent production value. These shows typically feature a viewership numbering up to 3 million subscribers.
Having just concluded its seventh season, “Dexter” has been renewed for an eighth and final season. Easily the most popular show on Showtime, “Dexter” follows the exploits of Dexter Morgan, played by Anthony C. Hall. Dexter is a serial killer who tracks down other serial killers, and he gets much of his information from the police department where he works as a forensics expert.
“Dexter” is a crime thriller, black comedy, and mystery rolled into one show. A strong supporting performance from Jennifer Carpenter helped propel the show through a record breaking seventh season, and other characters like Doakes remain fan favorites years after the characters met their demise.
“Dexter” is Showtime’s most talked about show, but “Homeland” features an equal level of suspense, and the writing is nothing short of superb. The first season won six Emmy awards, and the second season appears ready to pick up at least as many awards itself.
“Homeland” follows Nicholas Brody after he returns to the United States after being held as a prisoner of war by al-Qaeda for eight years. Damian Lewis of “Band of Brothers” fame shines as Brody, and Claire Danes matches him scene for scene as Carrie Mathison, a CIA officer who believes Brody to be brainwashed by his jailers.
Although it is also a thriller, “Homeland” sacrifices “Dexter’s” twisted humor in favor of non-stop suspense. Both shows will appeal to TV viewers who like to keep guessing what the truth actually is behind the intrigue.
On the lighter side of TV shows, “Shameless” follows a completely dysfunctional and morally bankrupt family. William H. Macy is depressingly believable as Frank Gallagher, patriarch of the Gallagher household. He drinks all day while abusing the welfare system, and he leaves all of the household responsibilities to his eldest daughter, played by Emmy Rossum.
None of the characters on the show are saints. Besides Frank, the Gallagher children steal from charity, cheat on exams, use illicit drugs, or perform other questionable acts. Although the show looks at extreme poverty in the United States, the show’s humor helps to alleviate some of the more depressing aspects. To avoid stereotyping “Shameless,” the show’s creators placed the Gallaghers in a suburban environment rather than a trailer park or southern state.
“Californication” is another dramedy that follows one completely dysfunctional man. David Duchovny plays Hank Moody, the alcoholic writer who experiences writer’s block. The show follows Hank to California and other parts of the country as he laments his inability to focus on his writing because of sex, drugs, and other worldly pleasures.
The show has been criticized in the past for its explicit portrayal of sex, vomit, and drugs and its controversial use of churches and other religious settings. Over five seasons, Hank has had to learn how to cope with his rampant hedonism while remaining a responsible father and partner. The show has been nominated for numerous awards, and the sixth season is currently in production.
Showtime is available in HD with most cable and satellite TV providers. It is available on channels 865 to 874 in HD for Verizon FiOS subscribers, 545 to 552 on DirecTV, and 318 to 323 on Dish Network. Showtime subscribers can also access the channel’s content on their computers and mobile devices at Showtime’s website by first logging onto their cable or satellite TV accounts.