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Let's start this year with a rant.

The reason for the rant is this: Sometimes it's not television that can drive you around the bend and up the wall, it's the people who deliver it to you. Oh sure, some people get disgusted by such things as the new preponderance of American rednecks behaving badly on reality TV. (There's more coming tonight, just stick with me here for details to enliven your disgust.) So disgusted, actually, that I reckon there will soon be angry protests in the streets.

Rednecks and rambunctious people – that's nothing. At least you can turn them off. There are worse experiences. Allow me to explain.

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On Christmas morning I arose with a face that would stop a clock. Or as my dear mother would call it, a face like the Antichrist. The previous evening the on-screen guide had disappeared from my TV service, which is provided by the brigands known as Rogers. No guide. No information. "No data available," it said for every show and every channel.

This is not a tragedy. I know that. Nobody starved to death. But it's a major problem. When this happens, as it had a couple of weeks before on a Friday at midnight, you have no idea what's on TV. You can't program the PVR to watch anything because there's no information. You're clueless. And, before you start that e-mail telling me how to live without cable TV, stop and remember that I need this service. It's what I need to do my job.

What was especially aggravating on this occasion was that on the same day the on-screen guide disappeared, there arrived in the mail a notice from Rogers about upcoming increases in charges for various channels and services. Now, my cable-TV bill is already enormous. And here's Rogers telling me it will cost more. Simultaneously, Rogers removes the on-screen guide. On Christmas Eve, no less.

Time passed and eventually I was able to speak to someone at Rogers. The gist of the lady's explanation was, "Oh jeez, I dunno how that happened. That's strange." She offered to send a new guide directly to the digital box. When I turned on the TV again, it would be there. No, it wasn't. Then she transferred me to the technical department, the one that would surely help. Time passed. While on hold, I heard a notice to customers – Rogers was having problems with the on-screen guide and we should all be aware of this.

More time passed and when the smell of my burning dinner began emanating from the stove, I gave up. Christmas ruined. For days, the on-screen guide returned and disappeared. Returned and disappeared. I spent more time turning the damn digital box thing on and off than I did doing Christmasy things. And these people have the nerve to announce higher fees. If you want expert knowledge of ways to create a special kind of hell, Rogers are the people to consult.

On the subject of special kinds of hell, say hello to Buckwild (MTV Canada, 10 p.m.), which is set in Sissonville, West Virginia. It's "a place founded on freedom," we are informed. By that, the speaker, a 19-year-old, means the freedom to party.

Sissonville is hill country, apparently. There's only one way in and one route out. As a youth astutely informs us, "Law ain't gonna come up here and get us." And he continues, "We're young, free and buck wild."

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Indeedy. The series, MTV's screw-you replacement for Jersey Shore, furthers the trend of seeking spectacle and authentic sass among hillbillies and rednecks. The gaggle of youths featured here are Honey Boo Boo's crazy cousins. They are kin to the people on Duck Dynasty, who would shake their heads and pronounce that y'all need to drink less when y'all get in your trucks and go splashing in the mud yelling "yee-haw!"

First we meet Ashley, age 19, and, as she says, "known for trouble."

"I'm a good kid, don't get me wrong," Ashley says plaintively. Then we see footage of Ashley while she's mud-wrestling, her ample and escaping bosom being gripped by some guy's feet. Ah, youth.

Among her pals is Anna, who declares, "I'm a really chill girl but I've been known to get into fights." As it turns out, Anna is famous for launching herself at another girl's hair. Joey, another 19-year-old, also has hair issues. He's pretty certain the ladies love his hair. Joey also informs viewers of a core truth about life in Sissonville: "Around here, man's only as good as his truck."

The profundity continues. A gal tells some guy who has said she looks "real good" to quit hitting on her. He denies it: "I ain't hitting on ya. If I was hitting on ya, I'd have a bottle of liquor in my hand."

Buckwild is just another MTV show about footloose, obnoxious youths frolicking. Annoyance at it is redundant. It didn't ruin my Christmas. Me, I like the style and attitude of these kids. I'd like to sic them on the people at Rogers Cable for a day.

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About the Author
Television critic

John Doyle is The Globe and Mail's television critic. His column appears in the Review section Monday to Thursday and on Saturday. He has been the paper's critic since 2000. More

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