Picks and Pans Main: Tube

updated 07/29/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/29/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

THIS WEEK MTV WILL LAUNCH ITS NEW spinoff channel M2, which is aimed at slightly older viewers who enjoy watching music videos but are not terribly interested in Singled Out and The Real World. M2 will thus become the latest member of a fast-growing sibling universe that already includes VH1, ESPN2, C-SPAN2, CNN's Headline News and A&E's kid brother the History Channel.

This practice of cloning channels could lead to many exciting developments. One possibility is the Family Channel2. For years, the Family Channel has been airing wholesome fare like The Waltons and Highway to Heaven, but recently it has also begun showing episodes of The Three Stooges. Because The Three Stooges was always a bit sadistic, perhaps even a bit gross, it might be better for Pat Robertson to ship those programs over to the more mature Family Channel. He could name the new spinoff the Dysfunctional Family Channel.

Another possibility is the TV Food Network2, which could run programs aimed at viewers who like to fry, leaving the Food Network with its core audience of viewers who prefer to broil.

Some spinoff channels that might find a wide audience include The Lifetime Channel2, which could air programs about death, and USA2, which could exclusively show reruns of the already ubiquitous Silk Stalkings. And, of course, the channel we're all waiting for: VH1-2.

Most exciting of all might be a new channel called PBS2. As a way of allaying viewer fatigue, PBS could continue to broadcast Mobil Masterpiece Theatre, Live from Lincoln Center and Charlie Rose on the flagship channel, while its sibling PBS2 could operate as a 24-hour-a-day, fund-raising channel, airing the endlessly recycled Beatles' Let It Be and John Tesh Live at Red Rocks several times a day, every single day of the year. That would certainly make PBS1 much more enjoyable.

One final possibility is the Weather Channel2, which could devote itself to foreign weather, weather from parts of the country that nobody really cares about, or even unpleasant weather. The parent channel would then be known as the Nice Weather Channel and its offspring as the Inclement Weather Channel. It's just a thought.

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