The Essential TV Guide Fall Previews of the 80s, Part 2: 1980!


By Shawn Robare



I guess if I’m going to do a 10+ week series of these TV Guide Fall Preview issues from the 80s, I’m gonna have to slap together some sort of banner.  Feels weird staring off a post all wordy like this.  Anyhoo.

*Update*  As you can see the banner is done.

I was thinking again about the dates on the lot of vintage issues I picked up a while ago, and like most wonderings I have concerning stuff on the site, I always seems to come back to that time travel concept from Quantum Leap where Sam can only leap around in his own timeline.  Last week for instance, I didn’t have a whole lot of specific memories about the shows (or whatnot) in the preview issue because I was only four years-old at the time, spending most of my waking hours in front of cartoons or Tonka trucks.  But I kept thinking about it and I decided that this series of posts wouldn’t feel complete until I found the issues from ’77-’80, so I jumped on eBay and picked up a cheap copy of the 1980 Fall Preview issue, (and am currently bidding on the others I’ll need.)

This first thing that jumped out at me when I received this issue in the mail, was that it had different binding that the rest of the issues I have (and am used to.)  Instead of being perfect-bound with glue, it’s folded and stapled like a comic book, except it’s like 3 million pages long so I have no idea how these things ended up staying so neatly folded.  If nothing else, it made the job of scanning in pages without destroying the copy very difficult, and in some places the images are a little blurry on the sides where the magazine wasn’t pressed up close enough to the glass on the scanner.

    

For some reason the 2-page Marlboro spread on the inside front cover made me laugh a little.  I guess it’s because that cowpoke is carrying an entire carton of cigarettes. I guess he just hit the local smoke-n-feed store while riding.  I also noticed that his belt buckle has a nice picture of a Midwest vista on it.  I bet the other cowboys are jealous.  Actually, this reminds me of another weird aspect to these old TV Guides, they’re practically packed with only ads for cigarettes and booze.  Not being a smoker myself (or really a drinker for that matter), it’s kind of weird to see so much advertising space taken up by tobacco and liquor companies.  I guess it says something about the Guide’s target audience as well.

On the other hand, there are a couple of ads that I’m all about.  Take that Vivarin ad above.  I remember my mom used to eat Vivarin like candy, and when I got into middle school she used to cut one in half most mornings and give it to me with my breakfast to wake me up.  I was one of those foot-draggers when it came to getting up for school.  If I didn’t have my little yellow pill, a bowl of hot soup and an episode of Woody Woodpecker or the Little Rascals playing in the background there was no way I was going to get up.  I had to stop taking these in college when I found myself working 50 hours a week (nights), while trying to take three classes in the mornings on weekdays.  I was up to two Vivarin and a 24 oz. Mountain Dew each morning, which was just way too much caffeine for my system.  Thank god it’s not habit-forming…

That Toyota ad also cracked me up a little.  When are advertising agencies not extolling the virtues of ‘more room for leggy drivers’, and percentage benefits for new aerodynamic stylings?  Heck by now you’d think we’d be driving the equivalent of the spaceship from Flight of the Navigator.  Come to think of it, I could so use a roving mechanical eye on a hydraulic arm with the voice of Pee Wee Herman helping me to drive my car.  Who needs GPS when you have that handy?

There’s also an interesting bit on the actor’s strike of 1980 that feels totally relevant to the writer’s strike we just went through (and possible actor’s strike approaching.)  Even though they couldn’t print concrete premier dates, TV Guide still had the chutzpah to run with the preview issue.  It’s very 1930s newpapermenly of them. 

Last up in these first five scans we also have a K-Mart ad for one heck of a crazy audio set-up.  It’s a five-in-one system with a stereo, turn table, dual cassette decks, 8-Track player, and even comes with two microphones, speakers and a nice looking set of headphones.  Crazy.  I think I could actually use something like this now, well if it had a usb port that is.  It’s make for one heck of a podcasting unit with built in vintage vintage audio media capabilities.

    

Above we have five of the new shows premiering in 1980 including a television adaptation of the film Breaking Away, Hill Street Blues (another 80s staple that I have never seen a single episode of), a drama starring Lorenzo Lamas & Linda Hamilton (which is advertised for those who love soap operas but are sick of Dallas), a goofy looking buddy cop show starring Hector Elizondo, and a show that had me terribly excited until I realized that it was a non-fiction animal expose show.  I mean c’mon, look at that picture!  Priscilla Presley, Burgess Meredith and a chimp?  Why wasn’t this the TV adaptation of Every Which Way but Loose (Burgess can so pulled off a wizened old Clint Eastwood)?

    

On of the aspects to these older TV Guides that I’ve really fallen for is all of the illustration work in the advertising.  This is something that I’ve taken for granted for years and it’s been only recently that I’ve really started to miss this type of practice.  The fringes of pop culture, in particular advertising, is always going to shift with technology towards the fastest, flashiest way of getting people to notice their products which means ditching illustration work for more Photoshoped or CGI fare.  It just looks more modern which is what people tend to respond to.  In particular I noticed this trend recently when General Mills reused some vintage packaging on Honey Nut Cheerios and Lucky Charms.  The characters looked so much more appealing to me at first blush, and I think a lot of that has to do with them not looking so slick.

Anyway, a lot of the interior advertising in this TV Guide (be it the more random products or the show adverts) features illustration work that I’m really digging.  For instance the Kraft ad above that has artwork that looks like it was ripped from the pages of Highlights magazine.  On a side note, I distinctly remember my mother trying to hook me on veggies with some sort of sour cream based dip for after school snacks (doing her best to wean me off of Chef Boyardee or a bowl full of Cheez-Its), and now that I think back on it I’m kind of glad I didn’t go that route.  One serving of that dip above probably had half of the daily recommended fat, 90% of which is saturated, which would turn eating veggies into the equivalent of eating large hunks of cheese wrapped in bacon and deep-fried.

There’s also a nice piece of advertising from the network premiere of Foul Play (with a little more Burgess Meredith), as well as a small advert for an episode of That’s Incredible, a show I remember watching all the time, though I don’t have an specific memories of episodes.  Next up there’s a small ad from the show Kids are People Too featuring the young Jodie Foster and Matt Dillion.  I don’t remember this show, but I’m curious.  I suppose it was like a daytime talk show aimed at teenagers?

Last in this set is a horribly misleading ad for the ultimate in sweat suit technology, the Second Skin, the space age slenderizer.  The ad boasts the loss of five pounds in as many minutes, and getting rid of five inches from your unsightly waist in as many hours.  The basic premise is like having a self-contained sauna in a metallic looking rubber body suit.  I’m sad to say that I witnessed the use of one of these suits first hand.  My father was always on the heavy side while I was growing up, and he was always trying to do his best exercise-wise.  He’d jog and hike, but he never seemed to loose any weight and at one point he invested in some variation of one of these suits.  I remember he’d go out jogging in it and then about 15 minutes later he’d come back into the house all winded and reeking of sweat.  I’d always find the thing draped over the bathroom shower bar totally drenched.  Shudder.

    

Also in this issue there’s a fun little ad for a Dukes of Hazzard movie, which I think is just a two-part episode aired back to back (though I’m not positive.)  It’s kind of fun to see an ad that doesn’t feature the General Lee prominently front and center.  There’s also a great ad for a movie I’m now dying to see, Rodeo Girl.  Cow roping action mixed with the potential for soap opera-esque baby loosing drama is one heck of hook in my opinion.  It’s like Lifetime and the original TNN got together and did a movie of the week.

    

If you’d asked me last week if Ted Danson had a starring role in a futuristic spy thriller facing off against Christopher Lee before moving on to Cheers, I would certainly have laughed and said no, but there’s the advert for it above.  Again, where are these movies on DVD?  Also, in the K-Mart ad above, is that the most expensive clock radio ever?  Who paid $40 in 1980 dollars for a clock radio?

    

Though I don’t have many first hand memories of much of what’s contained in this issue of TV Guide, I have to admit that it contained a ton of surprises.  Take the above preview for the Dukes of Hazzard spin-off series Enos for example.  Though I practically grew up on DoH, and have had an interest in the mythology most my life, I have never heard of this wacky gem.  Enos, in California?  Really?

There are a couple of other fun previews including Too Close For Comfort, Magnum P.I., It’s a Living, and one show out of all of these that I actually watched the living heck out of once it hit syndication, Bosom Buddies.  Tom Hanks was the example by which I judged and defined comedy for a large portion of my childhood.

Finally, on one of the last pages of this issue there is an interesting section devoted to other shows that the Networks have waiting in the wings so to speak, one of which I’ve never heard of and I am dying to see called Mr. & Mrs. Dracula.  The relevant portion is highlighted in the above scan, but basically it’s about the Dracula’s emigrating from Transylvania to America so they can raise a family in more suitable environs.  Wow, how Munster’s is that premise?  Why have I never heard of this show?  Maybe it never actually aired, or maybe I have a bit of Youtube homework to do tonight.

Anyway, next week I’ll be back with yet another highlighted issue, most likely the 1982 edition.

  • Joe

    Carnival of Thrills was in fact the 80-81 season opener for the Dukes of Hazzard and would go on to be a two parter in future showings. If I remember correctly it is split this way on the DVD too. In my opinion though that page along with the That’s Incredible illustrated page was worth the price alone :).

  • Jay

    shawn, btw, that rodeo girl movie wasn’t that good…they had it on amazon and i bought it as a gift and it’s probably better as a TV guide ad lol.

  • Ken

    Hi! I love all these old TV guide pics I still have a few of them! Anyway I just wanted to let you know that at least one of those old TV Movies is on DVD – Rodeo Girl – Here’s the cheapest of about 6 listings on ebay right now: “”http://cgi.ebay.com/Big-Sky-DVD-Rodeo-Girl-Katharine-Ross_W0QQitemZ350064266987?

  • 60s through 80s

    I love your old TV Guides…I’ve been trying to recapture memories and reconcile conflicting dates by using TV listings in New York Times archives. But TV Guide has pictures! Also, to answer your question “”who paid $40 in 1980 dollars for a clock radio?”” I proudly scream yes! I have not had to buy a clock radio in almost 30 years, and even after spilling a ton of water on it from an over-watered hanging plant, it is still chugging away on my nightstand after all this time. Very few things I buy today for 40 bucks give me the money’s worth it used to. :)