Whatever happened to HBO or Showtime or Cinemax or The Movie Channel's "free weekends"? Those were always fun. Do those networks still do them? I can't imagine Cinemax doing them anymore now that its reputation is that of a soft-core porn peddler for the most part. "Sign up for Cinemax and see Hollywood's biggest hits from one year ago! Um, plus a boatload of somewhat titillating erotic thrillers. Actually, there are lots more of those than there are Hollywood hits. Do you have kids? Oh, you do? Yeah, then you might want to reconsider. Sorry for wasting your time. But if you ever get divorced and have to move into a one-bedroom apartment, look us up."
Of course, these days HBO has about a dozen different channels of its own—HBO2, HBO West, HBO Signature, Plus, Comedy, etc. And Showtime ... well, Showtime's still hanging in there. Good hustle, Showtime!
You could argue that a free weekend of HBO would still be worthy of the network's time if they showed episodes of their original shows, which are clearly their bread and butter now. (Waiting a year to see Hollywood movies after they'd left the theaters wasn't even a big selling point as far back as the late '80s, when you could find those movies in video stores six months after they'd left the theaters.) Actually, now that I think about it, I do remember Showtime having a free weekend as recently as the summer of 2002, and they premiered one of their original series that weekend, I believe. Something with Rob Morrow, who's now on a CBS show called Numb3rs (you know, like Se7en or The T10n Commandments), so I guess it didn't last that long. I remember that I got to see Katie Holmes sans shirt in The Gift that weekend. Sure, I'd already seen this movie, but I had to pay to see it the first time. This time it was free. And that made it so much sweeter.