Saturday, November 15, 2008

Merry Christmas, 1979

With Christmas coming up, I thought I'd look for any December TV Guide issues I could find. I came across the December 8th through 14th, 1979 edition. The cover isn't very Christmas-y, featuring talk show hosts of the day -- "Who Are TV's Best and Why?":

I recognize most of them. From top clockwise, Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, Tom Snyder, Phil Donahue, a mystery talk show host obscured by the label, someone I don't recognize, and occupying center square is TV Game Show King Merv Griffin.

Just looked on the inside cover -- the mystery host, as I suspected, is Dinah Shore. The host I didn't recognize is Mike Douglas.

Anyway, back to Christmas. I loved Christmas shows (still do actually). So I scanned through to see what I would have watched this particular Christmas when I was 11. I found a full-page ad for the grandaddy of all Christmas Specials. Of course, I'm talking about A Charlie Brown Christmas:

Sponsored by Dolly Madison, makers of neat to eat treats! And your local Coca Cola bottler. Apparenlty, it was followed by "Wile E. Coyote meets Raggedy Ann & Andy. " Super Genius! I don't recall that show, but based on the look of the art, another one of Chuck Jones' contributions, albeit a much lesser one. I'll never forget the opening to these specials -- when you heard this, you almost went out of your skull with excitement:

But back to Charlie Brown. I never tire of that show, as much as my kids watch it over and over on DVD. That's a whole other blog -- how DVD's have ruined holiday specials. If you wanted to see a holiday special, you'd better be planted in front of the TV when it was on! I remember just the year before this when I was in 5th grade, I actually skipped our class Christmas concert so I could stay home and watch Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer! I've seen a very good special on the making of a Charlie Brown Christmas (made after Charles Schulz's death), and Bill Melendez (who just passed away September of this year) told of how Charles Schulz first pitched the idea of having Linus' telling of the Christmas story and how the network executives advised against it. As quoted from wikipedia

"Network executives were not at all keen on several aspects of the show, forcing Schulz and Melendez to wage some serious battles to preserve their vision. The executives did not want to have Linus reciting the story of the birth of Christ from the Gospel of Luke; the network orthodoxy of the time assumed that viewers would not want to sit through passages of the King James Verison of the Bible. A story reported on the Whoopi Goldberg-hosted version of the making of the program that Charles Schulz was adamant about keeping this scene in, remarking that 'If we don't tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?'"

Maybe we should all take a little advice from Charles Schulz this Christmas season and think about what we're celebrating. As Linus so elequently put:

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Saturday Morning, May 13th, 1978

In an attempt to keep somewhat with the original intent of this blog, I present my tv lineup for the morning of May 13th, 1978. I was 10 years old:

6:45 a.m. Channel 5 Ag USA. C'mon, c'mon, C'MON!!! Be over!

7:00 a.m. Channel 5 Hong Kong Phooey (faster than the human eye!) My other option was Superfriends, but I didn't get into the DC cartoons until Challenge of the Superfriends a couple years later.

7:30 Channel 4 Speed Buggy (a rooma zoom zoom!)

8:00 Channel 2 Scooby's Laff-a-Lympics. This show was 2 hours long! I'm sure I flipped over to Bugs Bunny/Road Runner on Channel 2 more than a few times. After all, how much of the Hanna Barbara characters can you take in one sitting?

10:00 Toss up between the Krofft Supershow on Channel 2 and Baggy Pants and the Nit Wits on Channel 5. Baggy Pants was probably a horrible show in retrospect. A cat (Baggy Pants) modeled after Charlie Chaplin.

10:30 Channel 4 Secrets of Isis. Live action show.

11:00 Either Fat Albert on Channel 4 or repeats of Land of the Lost on Channel 5.

11:30 looked to be dead time. Not sure what I would have done.

12:00 Mr. Magoo on Channel 4 or Corky's Colorama on channel 5. Corky, a clown who in reality was local weatherman Clif St. James, hosted a children's show featuring cartoons and puppets. Here's a little information on local St. Louis children's shows of the 70's:

Saturday afternoon often meant Abbott & Costello, Ma and Pa Kettle, Tarzan (Johhny Weissmuller of course), Elvis movies, Beach Party movies, classic horror movies like Bela Lugosi's Dracula and Lon Chaney Jr's Wolfman, etc.

I don't think I saw the sun on Saturdays.

Will the real Ron Burgundy please stand up?

I don't think I need to explain who Ron Burgundy is or give a summary of the movie Anchorman. If you do, visit

I'm sure every city has its rumors on who the character Ron Burgundy was based. In reality, I'm sure it was a conglomerate of a lot of 1970's newscasters. In St. Louis, I've heard it rumored that Patrick Emory was the basis.

So while looking through the May sweeps week issue of 1979 (May 13th), I came across Mr. Emory's picture along with most of St. Louis' newsanchors of the day:

He doesn't strike me as particularly Ron Burgundy-esque.
I came across a picture of Dick Ford and Barbara Danahy from the June 2nd, 1979 issue of TV Guide, and if anyone in St. Louis was the model, I have to believe these two were:
All Dick's missing is the mustache. I really can envision Dick calling Barbara a "smelly pirate hooker" in response to Barbara's accusation that "Jazz flute is for little fairy boys."
For your enjoyment, a few more pictures from that May sweeps issue.

Another example of a phrase taking on a new meaning over the years:

I'm pretty sure Steve and Julius never "got it on," however I do know this guy and he and they GOT IT ON! No they didn't. But you can imagine what it would be like if they did.

Larry is better known these days for being tasered:

I get the feeling Leah has had it UP TO HERE with these chauvinists. Tim Van Gelder has just called her on the phone pretending to be her physician and told her she was knocked up and needs to quit.

Betsey Bruce trying to psychically will a story as Kevin Slaten looks to the future. Dennis Riggs baffled by the whole thing:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

1978 Kenmore Refrigerator

Nothing particular interesting about the refrigerator itself, especially since there's no picture of the outside (you know it's Harvest Gold!), but pictures like this always fascinate me because of the contents of the refrigerator:

Let's start with the freezer section, top left. We have some Stouffer products (judging by the packaging which apparently hasn't changed), possibly a frozen turkey, some Swanson Fried Chicken, more Stouffer products. On the bottom freezer shelf, if I'm not mistaken, that's a box of Eggo Waffles. Going over to the freezer door, more Stouffer's (did Sears have a stake in Stouffer's?), and a Pepperidge farm Apple Walnut bread/cake. Bottom freezer door shelf I can't quite make out what that is...oh, more Stouffer's. Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks (a classic), and frozen orange juice concentrate. I'll pause here and reminisce. My mom used to always buy frozen orange juice concentrate. I recall making many a pitcher. I used to eat the little frozen chunks straight. I can't quite make out the last tube next to the orange juice. Possibly frozen apple juice?

Moving to the refrigerator portion. Top shelf -- is that a half a watermelon? Or just a green Tupperware bowl? A pitcher of Kool-aid (or possibly Hi-C), speaking of, 2 cans of Hi-C. Second shelf is some yogurt, not sure what brand, but I recall the packaging -- maybe Dannon? I think yogurt was a fairly new product in 1978. I could be wrong, but that's about the time I first heard of it. Right around the time of the first fitness wave. Next to that -- yummy, yummy -- a black forest cake. On the bottom open shelf, an entire rib roast. You can't store a roast like that! Next to that, some sort of dessert cups -- custard maybe? And rounding out the bottom shelf, cream cheese.

In the door, the obligatory egg shelf. Our refrigerator doesn't have that. Whatever happened to that concept? I guess people figured out it was stupid to take the eggs out and put them in their own compartment. Just leave them in the container! I'm sure that's butter next to it. Second shelf -- more juice, some Schweppe's (why the two different labels? Not sure, I never drank the stuff). Next, you coulda had a V-8, and some Half and Half. People don't drink that, do they? I've only seen it used for coffee. Why no regular milk in the fridge? Next shelf, catsup (or ketchup if you prefer), possibly Del Monte, Wish Bone dressing, pickles, Kraft mayonnaise, olives, mustard (Plochman or French's, can't tell), Hellman's mayonnaise (how much mayonnaise do these people eat??), and Sta-wip -- not familiar with that brand. Doing a little research, it appears it was cousin to Reddi Wip. From the Conagra foods website, it was "a wartime substitute for whipping cream made mostly from light cream and vegetable fat.". War time??? How old was this can?

And finally, the bottom door shelf: Welch's grape jelly, possibly more Welch's jelly (strawberry?), I can't make out the next three items, and last, but not least, no refrigerator (or spaghetti) is complete without it -- Kraft Parmesan cheese in a can. I don't know why that stuff is so popular -- it tastes nothing like real parmesan cheese (which my kids call stinky foot cheese!)

You'll notice in the full page ad, they also show an early Kenmore microwave. That's where they cooked that roast that's in the refrigerator. No wonder the whole thing was left over -- did you ever eat a roast cooked in a microwave??? Not good.

Monday, May 26, 2008

GE Widescreen 1000

I found this ad in the 1978 Fall Preview issue.

1978 technology at its Zenith -- or GE at least. A whopping 75 inch screen in a beautiful faux wood mount. Finally, a tv that delivers "realistic flesh tones, blue skies, green grass". I was so tired of that purple skin, red sky and orange grass of our RCA console tv! Note that it had the option of the GE "Command Performance" VHS video cassette recorder. How much do you think this cost in 1978 dollars? I couldn't find that answer anywhere, but I'm guessing it was a lot. Reading the patent for this, it looks to be an early version of a projection tv, but still used a crt and shot the image through a lens to increase the image with "no noticeable change in resolution." I love the pencil-neck geek pushing it. Watch out! He has a clipboard!
I found another version of this ad that gives a little better picture of that early VCR:

It would appear you set the channels with the tv-like knobs on front.

Growing up, I didn't know anyone who could afford something like this. I didn't even know this existed back then! We didn't get our first VCR until 1983 and I thought we were ahead of the game then!

The sad thing is, in 30 years, we'll be looking back on ads for Blu-ray DVD players and 62-inch plasma televisions and laughing at them just as we laugh at this one. Maybe I'll hold off on buying one...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

September 1978 CBS Saturday Morning Schedule

I'm going to open my first official post with a page from the September 9th, 1978 issue of TV Guide. It's the Fall Preview issue featuring a number of shows you'll recognize, and a lot you probably won't.

In keeping with the official theme of this blog (which I warn you now, I will wander!), here's an ad for the new CBS lineup for Fall of 1978:

Starting in the upper right corner at 7:00 a.m., we have The All-New Popeye Hour. Riddle: How did you know a show was going to suck? If was prefaced by "The All-New". Here we find Popeye has apparently given up his sea legs in favor of some six shooters (nah, those are cans of spinach, of course). The assumption is Bluto/Brutus (they never could make up their mind on his name!) is terrorizing poor Olive Oyl. To be honest, Olive doesn't look like she's minding it that much. But seriously, who would fight over this string bean?

At 8:00 is the staple of Saturday morning TV. Possibly the longest running cartoon (in it's various incarnations) on Saturday Mornings as well. The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour. Brilliant cartoons, but that goes without saying, and I have nothing to add.

At 9:30 (wow! An hour and a half of BB!) we had Tarzan and the Super Seven. I recall this Filmation version (why aren't Filmation cartoons available on DVD yet?!) of Tarzan, but not the Super 7. I'm having trouble counting 7 here. We've got Tarzan, he doesn't count, because it's Tarzan and the Super 7. So let's start with Web Woman, 1. Batman, 2. Jason of Star Command (check out those Spock-like eye-brows on the guy second from the right!) 3. Moray and Manta, the Daring Duo of the Deep (obviously Aquaman knockoffs) 4. Microwoman and Superstretch 5. Okay, here's were it gets tricky. We've got Isis flying around surrounded by various other superhero types. We only need two more to meet our 7, in addition to Isis, I'm seeing Hercules, Super Samurai (is this before Superfriends' Samurai?), Merlin and Sinbad. That's 10, CBS. You get an "F" in Math!

I'm not sure how long of a show Tarzan and the Super 7 was, but it seems to bring us to the end of our Saturday Morning. Time for American Bandstand, Abbott and Costello movies, Tarzan (the Johnny Weissmuller series), and Ma and Pa Kettle. Ah, to relive just one of those Saturday again.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Welcome to Saturday Morning TV Zombies

What is a "Saturday Morning TV Zombie"? With a name that descriptive, do I really need to explain? Okay, maybe if you're 50 or older or 20 or younger, you might need some help.

I was born in 1967 and was privileged to have lived through the Golden Age of Saturday morning television. My earliest memories of sitting in front of the television on a Saturday morning date to somewhere around 1972. I recall watching "Run, Joe, Run" and "Big John, Little John" with my older sister. She pretty much called the shots on what we watched, but fortunately, she was 4 years older then me and grew out of Saturday morning TV long before I did.

I was mesmerized by the myriad of cartoon and live-action offerings the 3 major networks provided. Krofft Supershow, Land of the Lost, Superfriends, Thundarr the Barbarian, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Flash Gordon, the ABC Weekend Special and of course that staple of childhood, The Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner Show -- "Overture, curtain, lights!"

I recently obtained a fairly large run of TV Guides dating from the mid 70's to the late 80's. Looking through them brought back these memories -- not just of Saturday Morning Television, or even television in general, but of a time past, back before there were jobs, mortgages, car payments and kids. Back when my biggest worry was "What's on next?"

I plan to use this blog to explore that past, touching on a host of topics whose only common thread is that they somehow impacted my childhood -- and in an odd, and maybe even scary way molded who I am now.

So fill up a bowl with your favorite sugar-coated cereal and scoot in really close. I hope you'll enjoy my reminisces and perhaps they'll even bring back some of your own memories as a Saturday Morning TV Zombie.