Apparently I really started perking up and paying attention to the new fall schedule sometime in 1982 because this is the first issue of TV Guide that I’ve flipped through where I recognize and remember watching most of the shows previewed. I guess it kind of makes sense in a strange way. I just turned five, started kindergarten, and was probably very aware of my nightly impending bedtime, and thus was more prone to arguing so that I could stay up and, I don’t know, watch Knight Rider or something. ’82 was also the year that I missed out on a ton of Saturday morning cartoon time as my Dad decided that it would be good for me to get outside and meet new kids, so he enrolled me in the local soccer league (which he co-coached.)
When I first starting taking a close look at these TV guides I was figuring that there’d be a ton of crazy ads with way out of date prices (either insanely expensive appliances or insanely cheap food items), but for the most part everything has been about the same as it is now (at least for what would qualify for the equivalent by today’s standards.) That VCR above though is exactly what I was hoping to see. Granted the video revolution was still in its infancy and no where near the peak it would reach in the mid 90s, but seriously, was $600 ever a good ‘on-sale’ price for a piece of hardware like a VCR? It was normally $900. In 1982 dollars! I think that’s like 1/10th what my parents paid for their Mazda 626 around that time. I mean, doing the whole automobile divided by electronics equation for today’s standard, well, I think… Wait, no, I think that computes (scratching my head and doing the little calculator mine in the air)… Yup, I guess you could evenly divide about 10 decent sized HD TVs into one Volkswagen Rabbit. Damn! Still though, I can’t bring myself to buy an HD TV so I guess if I were in my parents shoes back in ’82 I also would have waited until about 1987 to get our first VCR as well. Going by those theoretical calculations, I should be joining the HD movement sometime in the next decade or so.
I was glad there was a different Vivran ad in this issue as well. It makes a nice sister ad to the one I posted a few weeks ago. The main difference is the hilarity. I know when I screw up at work because I’m too tired to count money, I want my boss to give me the equivalent of a low level legal narcotic to keep me going (okay Vivran isn’t really anything near a narcotic, but take enough of them and I’m sure it’ll feel a lot like taking some speed.) Besides, the ad makes me laugh when I shift the situation in my head to another profession, like a rough and tumble news helicopter pilot ("I destroyed three News11 copters and killed 2 traffic correspondents before my dispatcher gave me some little yellow pills that kept me in the air and flying for hours…") or a daycare worker ("I wiped twenty kids runny noses with the same tissue before I realized that the first kid had the chicken pox. Thank god my supervisor had some Vivran Stimulant Tablets handy because it was my turn to walk the kids to the bus today…")
Like I mentioned above, in getting to the show previews in this issue I’m finally feeling a little like I’m on more recognizable ground. Take that first 2-page spread featuring Joanie Love Chachi, the 9 to 5 sitcom spin-off, TJ Hooker and Cagney and Lacey. Though I haven’t watched many episodes of any of these shows (with the possible exception of TJ Hooker which I have some garbled, yet vivid memories of), I’ve been well aware of them all since they debuted. I guess my threshold for remembering pop culture starts at 5 years-old.
I guess this is also the beginning of a comfortable time-frame in which these actors and actresses would go on to stay (more of less) in the public eye. I mean TJ Hooker is Heather Locklear’s beginning of a very long love affair with network television as she’d go on to star in no less than 4 more long running shows (yeah, I’m including LAX as it went to a partial season run, but c’mon, Melrose Place, Spin City and Dynasty all in one career?) Heck, while I’m at it I might as well point to Shatner as well. This would be his second big hurrah after Star Trek. I wish I could say the same thing for Adrian Zmed, but this was more of his last hurrah after his turns in Bachelor Party and Grease 2. He sure does encompass that early 80s hunk look very well (not to mention giving Locklear’s feathered hair a run for it’s money.) There’s also Scott Baio in his post Happy Days, yet pre-Charles in Charge glory with Joanie Loves Chachi (which I’m all of a sudden dying to see after taking a gander at the opening credits, shudder.)
Of course, then there’s Silver Spoons, my hands down favorite 80’s kid-centric sitcom (with Punky Brewster and Diff’rent Strokes coming in at a tie in second place.) If there was one person I wanted to be like growing up it was Rickey Schroder, and if I could have two wishes I would have wanted his house. Rickey was basically a live action version of Richie Rich, though he was a little more frugal (having come from a slightly broken home.) Looking back though I think I was more influenced by Joel Higgins’ performance as Edward Stratton III, who suffered from the worst case of arrested development ever. That’s who I basically am these days, though without the family fortune (inherited from a grandfather who invented the inner tube.) Add to this the awesome Erin Grey (I never made the Buck Rogers connection as a kid oddly enough), and great guest stars like Jason Bateman and Alfonzo Riberio and you had the perfect kid sitcom.
I was surprised to see Rock Hudson in the Devlin Connection preview, as I didn’t realize he was still acting at this point. I heard his name bandied about by my parents a lot when I was young, but I’ve never really gotten a chance to watch any of his movies, so he’s sort of a name without a face to me. There’s also a preview for Ripley’s Believe It or Not, which the perennially scary Jack Palance lent his presence and amazing voice to. Rounding out the group above is a preview for the show Voyagers!, which I had never heard of. From what I gather after watching the intro, it’s basically the same type of show as Quantum Leap, only with an adventurer and a kid sidekick righting historical wrongs throughout all of history. It’s weird that I missed it though, because it looks like a show that would be right up my alley, and I see that it’s on DVD, so I might have to check out and see if Netflix carries it.
If you remember back a few posts ago I made a little fuss over another preview, which starred Pricilla Presley, Burgess Meredith and a Chimp (which actually turned out not to be a fictional show, but rather an animal variety show.) Well, if only I’d waited a little bit I’d have seen that Burgess Meredith took another whack at a sitcom starring along side a bunch of animals (and Sally Struthers, who is actually the true star of the show), and even though it’s no Every Which Way but Loose spin-off (instead it was an All in the Family spin-off), I’m sure it was still enjoyable.
We also get a preview of a show that really seemed to hit the 80s on the head, at least fashion wise (like the Zmed), Square Pegs. Like Locklear, it was the beginning of a long career in television and film for Sarah Jessica Parker, and coincidentally was just released on DVD this past week.
As a side note, has anyone ever seen a more sexually suggestive design for a television special ad than that one starring Sylvester Stallone ever? Holy crap, he’s starring as his own penis in that mock up. Weird.
There’s an interesting little ad for Madame’s Place, a show with a puppet that I have a hard time keeping separate from that crazy Genesis (or was it Phil Collins solo) video with all the weird looking puppets. Here’s a bit of Madame from youtube. I guess this was Corey Feldman’s shot at stardom between the Bad News Bears sitcom and flicks like the Goonies. Always glad to see one of the Coreys pop up.
On the page opposite the Madame ad, there is an interesting advert for a science special hosted by Peter Graves and presented by the fine folks at Atari.
Probably the weirdest ad I’ve seen so far in any of these TV Guides was the small one above called Beefeaters Delight! From what I can gather the ad is for entire sides of hanging beef at amazing prices, but what I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around is the idea that it’s being presented to the general public instead of in another more industry-centric fashion. I mean, I realize there are a ton of hunters out there that kill, keep and eat entire deer carcasses, but seriously, who invests in an entire half cow? I mean, that’s why we have supermarkets right? I do have to say that the insert advertising 5lbs of hotdogs or Bacon for $.99 a pound is mighty tempting. I wonder what that would work out to in 2008 dollars?
Again, because the majority of these TV Guides came out of the Los Angeles area there is a smattering of ads for the Z Channel (as well as the listings in the guide itself.) I thought I’d take a second to point to the wonderful documentary on Z channel again, as well as the trailer for the doc…
Unfortunately there weren’t as many Saturday Morning Cartoon ads in this issue, just the one above (which is almost identical to the version that ran in comic books at the time.) As I mentioned above, I think I was being forced to ‘take a break’ from SMC’s at the time to play soccer on the weekends (the strongest piece of evidence is that besides the Looney Tunes I don’t recognize any of the shows in the above ad, and I’m only partially familiar with the line-up in the ’82 ABC ad as well, never having seen the Mork & Mindy, Laverne & Shirley, or Little Rascals cartoons.) The Meatballs & Spaghetti cartoon looks pretty weird and is both a little bit of a holdover from the 70s family as a traveling band sort of show, as well as being kind of progressive in terms of the MTV generation and coming before shows like Kidd Video or that Wolfman Jack cartoon. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered all of the very odd sitcom to cartoon spin-offs of the late 70s and early 80s like the Gilligan’s Planet cartoon (or the Mork and Mindy/Laverne and Shirley cartoons mentioned above), which featured out favorite castaways building a spaceship and landing on a distant planet, again getting lost/stuck. I was also surprised by the Pandamonium cartoon, which has a very odd mixture of anthropomorphized animal comedy and action (in the main characters battles with Montragor master of evil.)
Aside from the shows I am familiar with in this issue (like St. Elsewhere above), there are also a bunch that caught my eye, if only because of the actors involved, but like Voyagers! above, some of the plots seem right up my alley as well. Take for instance the preview for Bring ’em Back Alive, which is an adventure show based on the life of Frank Buck a 30s era animal collector/adventurer starring Bruce Boxleitner (of Tron, Scarecrow & Mrs. King, and Babylon 5 fame.) Apparently the studio was looking to cash in on the success of Indiana Jones pitting the Buck character against Nazis and junk (not to mention adapting a 30s era adventurer.) Awesome! (Here’s the intro via youtube.) Similarly there was another IJ cash-in with Tales of the Gold Monkey starring Stephen Collins as Jake Cutter, a cargo pilot and all around Harrison Ford wannabe (here’s the intro.)
There were also some shows that weren’t quite up my alley, at least not at the time, like Gavilan (starring Robert Urich post Vega$ and pre Spenser for Hire), or the weird TV spin-off of the 7 Brides for 7 Brothers play and film starring MacGyver himself, Richard Dean Anderson, as well as Peter Horton (who would become a household name in my family later on for his turn on 30 Something), and a young, cute-as-a-button River Phoenix.
Speaking of household names, probably my mother’s favorite show of the 80s was St. Elsewhere. Between having a stellar cast (including Howie Mandel, Ed Beagley Jr., Denzel Washington, David Morse, Mark Harmon, G.W. Bailey, Stephen Furst, Ronny Cox, Helen Hunt, and William Daniels just to name a few) and the intense plot lines (Mark Harmon’s character contracting AIDS was our family’s ‘who shot JR’), it quickly became a must watch series.
Joining Silver spoons and St. Elsewhere were another couple of family favorites, Family Ties and Cheers (though I saw more episodes of Cheers in syndication later on as I think it was on past my bedtime.) Next to the Cosby Show, I think Family Ties was the biggest show for me in the 80s and Michael J. Fox is certainly up there as one of my favorite actors from my youth. If I wanted to be Rickey Schroeder, than I wanted to be best friends with Fox.
I thought it was pretty weird seeing Michael Dudikoff in the Star of the Family preview. I have a hard time not thinking of him as a second rate action star as I watched the American Ninja films religiously. It’s weird when he pops up in comedies like the above sitcom or Bachelor Party (hmm, another connection to the Zmed.) Same goes for Ron Glass, who stars as Felix in the fourth incarnation of the Odd Couple (after the play, film, and first sitcom.) I have to admit that I’m more familiar with Glass from his turn as Reverend Book in Firefly than his time on Barney Miller.
We also have the second attempt to launch the Powers of Matthew Star show. Apparently Peter Barton had a pyrotechnics accident the year prior which caused the fledgling show to shut down while he recovered. I wonder if this was the show that helped to typecast Louis Gosset Jr. as the grizzled older mentor character, which he would go on to play throughout his career (in films like Iron Eagle or the Punisher?)
1982 also saw the introduction of a show that I’ve always considered as one part of a trio of action shows that feature a vehicle as the main focal point (and to an extent character) of the series, Knight Rider. The other two are Airwolf (doing for helicopters what Knight Rider did for Trans Ams) and Street Hawk (ditto for motorcycles.) I watched the living heck out of KR growing up. I had the electronic toy and action figure set and would endlessly debate the episodes with friends well into high school. In the context of this TV Guide Fall Preview issue, it really does seem like 1982 was a stellar year for William Daniels (with this and St. Elsewhere beginning; 2 long running shows.) I still can’t believe that the show is being reconceived for modern audiences though (I missed the pilot movie, and from what I hear thankfully.)
Well, I didn’t get this up last week like I’d hoped, but I do plan on doubling up this week. There’s a possibility that I might get to the 1979 issue (as I finally found a cheap copy on eBay), but I might just plow on ahead to 1983. We shall see.