On The Learning Channel

6 September 1999

I was watching The Learning Channel a couple of weeks ago when they aired a program called “Dangerous Pursuits.” You’ve seen this show, or one exactly like it: a collection of found footage from news helicopters following high-speed chases through the streets of (usually) L.A. When I turned it on it had a shot of a tour bus that had backed into a house. Well, I was curious as to how that had happened, so when TLC re-ran it three hours later, something they always do, I was ready and waiting. Of course, I was then chagrined to realise that I’d previously seen that footage, and much of the rest of the show, on various other “real t.v.” programs. Still, that didn’t stop me from watching it all over again.

What bothered me was that the whole time, down in the lower right corner of the screen, staring me in the face, was that TLC logo. It led me to think: I’m watching The Learning Channel, but just what am I learning here? Okay, running from the Man is dangerous, stupid, and can get you or others killed, but that’s just common sense. Hmmm, what else? Stealing a tank is liable to get you shot, in San Diego at least, and prime-time snuff footage (if you look closely you can see the officer on the turret pull the trigger) is legit as long as it comes in the guise of an educational program, or the evening news. Food for thought, but frankly, information that only psychopaths, television executives included, would find handy.

Damn it, was I not going to learn anything from a Learning Channel program? Is TLC a misnomer?

Then I found it. The one choice factoid, repeated several times for educational emphasis. The nugget of information that allowed me to say I was learning and not merely watching your average piece of fluff.

“Code 4” is police jargon for “pursuit terminated.”

There’s always something to learn on The Learning Channel.

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