Archive for the 'TV Guide' Category

At Ease (1983) Was a Real Show on TV and I Can Prove It

At Ease 1983

Equal parts Sergeant Bilko and M*A*S*H*, only not as funny. The series lasted for a surprising 14 episodes, most of which you can watch on Mantronix RetroTV.

The show was created by—wait for it—John Hughes.

TV Guide Ads for TV Movies: The Fantastic World of D.C. Collins (1984)

D.C. Collins Ad 1984

Was anyone else sitting in front of the TV when this dreck aired? In retrospect, it’s kind of interesting as an example of what the adult world saw as a generation of game-addled, reality-phobic daydreamers (the underrated Cloak and Dagger came out later the same year), with the dreamer redeeming himself in a Cold War caper. Too bad it’s unwatchable.

Here are a couple of painful reminders (watch for Jason Bateman in the first clip):

TV Guide Article on the The Hobbit TV Movie (1977)

Hobbit 1977

Hobbit 1977-2

Will the late author’s many fans take kindly to the TV version? Producers Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass insist that purists can rest easy: they rejected half a dozen scripts before settling on one that satisfied all the experts. The production features 13 songs and the familiar voices of Orson Bean, Cyril Ritchard, John Huston and Hans Conried…

Italics mine.

Still, I have a soft spot in my heart for this one.

(Images via Cool Ass Cinema)

Double Trouble (1984) Was a Real Show on TV and I Can Prove It

Double Trouble 1984

Kate and Allison (Jean and Liz Sagal) are identical twin teenagers with totally opposite personalities! One is serious; one is happy-go-lucky. I don’t remember which has what trait, and it doesn’t matter, because they look exactly the same. They’re dancers, see, and dad (Donnelly Rhodes) owns a dance studio that’s also sort of a health club. Hilarious antics ensue, right? Nope.

In the second (and last) season, the setting was moved from Des Moines to New York. Dad was replaced by the cool aunt, and the girls pursue acting and design school. It doesn’t matter which one pursued what occupation, because they look exactly the same.

Patricia Richardson, a terrific actor who held Home Improvement together for eight years, appears in the first season of Double Trouble.

The openings from both seasons are below. If you wanted to describe the mainstream vibe of the ’80s to visitors from outer space, the first one has you covered.

TV Guide Ads for `Godzilla Week’ (1978 – 1980)

Godzilla 2-24 3-2 1979

Godzilla 1978-1979

Godzilla 1978-1979-2

The first ad shows the schedule for February 24th through March 2nd, 1979. The second two ran sometime between 1978 and 1980. Notice the emphasis on “free movie,” indicating the rise of subscription cable at the time. Also, that’s Gamera in the promo for Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (Godzilla vs. Hedorah, 1971), not the Smog Monster.

KPLR is a St. Louis station. XETV is in San Diego.

(Images via Garage Sale Finds and Xenorama)

TV Guide Ads for ABC’s `Monster Week’ (1974): ‘Bet He Can’t Eat Just One’

MW 1974-1

MW 1974-2

MW 1974-3

MW 1974-4

MW 1974-5

The promos are for the week of January 5th through January 11th, 1974. (Thank you ever so much, My Monster Memories.) ABC’s The 4:30 Movie (the 3:30 movie in Los Angeles) was hugely influential, along with horror showcases like Chiller Thriller and Creature Double Feature, in the horror and monster renaissance of the 1970s, and a major reason American kids became obsessed with Godzilla (and kaiju) in particular.

Return of the Giant Monsters is the American release of Gamera vs. Gaos (1967); Godzilla vs. the Thing is Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964); Monster from the Prehistoric Planet is Gappa, The Colossal Beast (1967); Frankenstein Conquers the World is Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965); and War of the Monsters is Gamera vs. Barugon (1966). All of the films were released in the U.S. by American International Pictures.

The 4:30 Movie featured several recurring themes over the course of its long run (1968 – 1981), including Superhero Week and Planet of the Apes Week. You can see a whole bunch of the promos, and read more about the history of the show, at DVD Drive-In.

 * * *

I’m hosting my very own monster week here, focusing on Godzilla and friends, and it’s leading up to something really cool on Thursday.

TV Guide Ads for TV Movies: The Day After (1983)

Day After 1983

What I remember about The Day After is that I had to wait a long time to see the now infamous nuclear attack sequence. I was deeply fascinated by the sight of mushroom clouds—actual test footage and various representations in movies, books, and comics—throughout the ’80s: they were like a dark magic in a world that was tediously ordinary. As an adult, I understand that nothing is more mundane than the willingness of one group of people to annihilate another group of people on a mass scale, and despite global collateral damage.

I thought I’d seen the movie when it premiered, but my mom says she doesn’t remember letting me watch it. I don’t know where else I would have been. It was Sunday night and we had one TV. It’s possible I could have seen it on video a few years later.

The juxtaposition in the promo is pretty damn effective.

TV Guide Ads for TV Movies: Mazes and Monsters (1982)

In Mazes and Monsters, four privileged college students get involved in fantasy role-playing as a way to escape painful (for the privileged) personal problems. One of them loses it, has a complete psychotic break, and ends up living with his parents and believing he’s a cleric.

In both the bestselling novel, written by Rona Jaffe, and the TV adaptation, role-playing is presented as addictive, a playground for idle hands, something to be conquered on the journey to mentally healthy adulthood. The ad brilliantly reflects the story’s sensationalistic propaganda. The players’ shadows are nothing less than their inner demons coaxed into the physical world by the game (called Mazes and Monsters). It’s very Freudian.

The ad concept, with a shadow or shadows revealing the underlying nature of the appearing figure or figures, has been used many times before and since. The Changeling (1980) and Warlock (1989) movie posters are a couple of examples.

Here’s an article, written by Jaffe, that appeared in the same TV guide.

Mazes and Monsters TV Guide 1982

It’s mostly about her experience as an associate producer, but she does discuss how she came to write the novel, and what she says about “fantasy games,” specifically D&D, is pretty interesting.

The characters are plunged into adventure in a series of mazes run by another player, the omnipotent referee, who creates monsters, and other frightful dangers, to destroy the players. The point of the game is to amass a fortune and keep from being killed.

The italics are mine. Funny, but I thought the point of the game was to have fun. The characterization of the DM/GM as omnipotent and sinister was and is taken seriously by a number of powerfully ignorant, unsavory collectives.

Jaffe neglects to mention that her novel is also a “strong fantasy,” and that it too might be “taken a step too far,” with pernicious results.

TV Guide Christmas/Holiday Covers, 1975 – 1985

TV Guide Christmas 1975

TV Guide Christmas 1976

TV Guide Christmas 1977

TV Guide Christmas 1978

TV Guide Christmas 1979

TV Guide Christmas 1980

TV Guide Christmas 1981

TV Guide Christmas 1982

TV Guide Christmas 1983

TV Guide Christmas 1984

TV Guide Christmas 1985

A convincing visual of America’s descent into political correctness, as noted by TV Guide Time Machine. After 1985, there were no more Christmas covers, only Holiday Viewing Guides.

I want Santa back.

(Images via TV Guide Time Machine and eBay)

A Holiday Shopping Guide: `The Best Video Games of 1982′



It’s interesting how the author defines video games as “mindless entertainment” and “cheap thrills” on the one hand, but props them up as “sophisticated” and “cerebral” at the same time.

His description of Intellivision is right on, though: “While the competition strives to bring arcade action home, Mattel continues to woo the cerebral video buff—as symbolized by their TV shill, George Plimpton.” (See Plimpton “shilling” here.) Sub Hunt and Utopia are two of the best games I’ve ever played. If I get another game system, it’ll be an Intellivision.

The Vectrex system also gets a rave review. Sort of like Tomytronic 3D, but with vector graphics, I remember playing a display unit a few times at Sears. Here it is in the 1983 Sears Wishbook. Note the price slashed in half because of the video game crash.

Vectrex Sears Wishbook 1983

I thought this part might have been urban legend: “Earlier this year, a young man in Indiana who was playing the coin-op `Berserk’ died of heart failure.” Turns out it’s true.

Atari’s E.T. is one of the best games of 1982? Somebody paid him to say that.

(Article via Intellivision Revolution)




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