Tag Archives: 80s tv

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

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.

The Essential TV Guide Fall Previews of the 80s, Part 1: 1981!

About a year or so ago I stumbled upon something pretty cool on eBay that I thought would be fun to share on Branded in the 80s, namely an almost complete run of TV Guide Fall Preview issues for the eighties (1981-1990.) I’d still like to locate the issues from 77-80, but instead of putting this off any longer, I thought I’d go ahead and start posting the highlights from these issues.

My family was TV Guide-oholics while I was growing up. First off we didn’t have a television with a remote until I was in high school, and we didn’t have a remote controlled cable box until a couple years before that. Up until then, all throughout the 80s we had those old cable boxes that had a slide lever that you pushed to the right to get into the higher numbered channels and to the left to get to the lower numbered channels. It was one of those types of boxes that you family’s drunk acquaintances would swear could pick up the pay channels for free if you just stuck a playing card between the lever and the receptor inside. Ours were typically connected to the TV by an extra long cord that was always stretched across the living room so that my dad could toggle through the channels while he lay on the couch. Anyway, because channel surfing was a little more archaic and because none of us cared for the one channel that would flash programming for all the other channels (what’s become the TV Guide channel oddly enough), we lived by our weekly TV guide digest.

On Satudays my mom would come home with the weekly groceries and I’d always dive into the bags looking for our copy of the guide so that I could flip straight to the ‘Movies’ section to see what was playing on the pay cable channels. We only ever subscribed to HBO and I was always dying to see what was going to be on that week, not to mention lamenting what I couldn’t see on Showtime or Cinemax. Sure, we also received the HBO guide by mail once a month, but my parents usually swiped it up and it would soon disappear never to be found again. I would also roughly plan out my Saturday morning, trying to come up with the best way to navigate through the cartoons on the various channels, though ultimately I would always end up sitting in front of the TV and switching between toons, mid-show. Of course, the best issue only came out once a year, the Fall Preview edition which showcased all of the new programming on the main three networks.

As I mentioned above, the earliest issue in the lot I picked up was the 1981 edition. I was only four at the time, so I doubt I flipped though this particular issue, and with a few exceptions, I don’t remember many of the new shows that were offered up. I still can’t help but smile while looking though it though. Actually, another interesting aspect of the TV Guide is that it’s geared towards local markets, so every week there should be at least 100 to 200 different editions depending on where you live in the country. Though most of the up front and cable material is the same, there are some interesting bits of local flair in the middle. Most of the issues in the stack I purchased were from California, and in the small region that was actually lucky enough to pick up Channel Z (there’s a great documentary on Z Channel that gives background on the whole phenomenon), so it’s kind of a kick to see what was playing through out part of the 80s.

Anyway, without further to do, here are a bunch of thumbnail that link to larger scans from the issue…


I think it’s weird that the artist who mocked up the cover chose to put a ring on what I assume is a lady’s hand drawing back the right side of the curtains. I don’t know why I find it weird, but I do. Though there were plenty of cigarette and liquor ads, the one that caught my eye first which a whopping 6-page Sears spread featuring all sorts of appliances and electronics. From $400 dollar monstrously sized microwave ovens (though they allude could cook a whole turkey, though I wouldn’t want to eat it) and surprisingly modern-priced washer and dryer units, to pricey TVs (with Super Chromix picture tubes) and $800 Betamax players. Interesting side note on the Super Chromix picture tubes, I distinctly remember putting my face up so close to the TV glass that I could only see the weird green, blue, red color bars. I always wondered how it could look so good from far away and so simple up close. Ah the wonders of science and technology, and stupid kids smudging their grubby faces on TV screens…


I didn’t scan in every TV show preview page, but I tried to snag the ones with some recognizable faces, like the above show King’s Crossing with a young Linda Hamilton. The one show out of this entire book that I wish I had paid attention to at the time was the show The Powers of Matthew Star. It sounds like an 80s version of Smallville, except the dude had a kickass spear!


I also tried to scan in shows that have since become pop culture icons, like Simon and Simon above. Believe it or not, I have never seen a single episode of that show. My wife is ashamed of me.

I also thought it was kind of weird how openly liquor used to be advertised with soda brands. The above Bacardi ad is only one of like three in this issue alone that has major brand sodas in them, advertising the beauty of a mixed drink. Does this ever happen anymore?

Of course I was all over the Saturday Morning cartoon ads in the TV Guides I bought. These make wonderful companion pieces to the ads I’ve already posted from the various comics books of the 80s. This one above fills in the 1981 ABC gap in my original post. There was also a tiny ad for one of the ABC Weekend Special cartoons which I vaguely remember catching every once in awhile…


There was also a nice Solid Gold ad (featuring Andy Gibb and Olivia Newton-John, who has been a crush of mine every since I saw Xanadu this past year.) For some reason, though no one in my family really seems the type to have watched it, I remember having Solid Gold on in the background on the weekends while we had our big family meals (typically either steak or burgers.)


Now there’s a show that I have weird memories of, Sha-Na-Na. Actually, my memories are all fragmented and for some odd reason seem to be getting mixed up with both Scott Baio and Hee-Haw of all things. I remember the weird song they’d sing where the one dude was pumping his guns and twisting his wrist and fist outward and inward. Again, why aren’t there compilations of stuff like this on DVD. I don’t need a season of Sha-Na-Na, just an episode to stir up some more truthful memories. Sigh.

Also, we have another Saturday Morning cartoon ad, ah, excuse me, a Saturdazzle ad. Man, to wake up early on a Saturday morning to catch Fat Albert on Saturdazzle, tizzle my dizzle and the hippity hoppity and junk. Anyway, you can find a different version of this ad from a comic book here.

Above we also have yet another show I’m sorry I missed and is now sadly gone (though I bet there’s stuff on youtube), Fridays. Would you look at that young afro-clad Larry David! I wonder what hyjinks Andy Kaufman was getting into that week? Btw, I love love love Mark Blankfield, he was great in the Incredible Shrinking Woman…


Above we have some more fun preview pages showcasing the beginnings of the Fall Guy, Gimmie a Break, a running try at a series by Joel Higgins (who would later cement his fame in Silver Spoons), and a last ditch effort by Gabe Kaplan (who should have known better than to try and follow up Welcome Back Kotter with anything.) There are also a few fun ads, including one for Dial soap with some fun illustrations, a very conniving cigarette ad, and some old packaging for Nuti-Grain cereals.

Last but not least, we have a preview for Open All Night starring Bubba Smith (who was making a name for himself acting-wise in the Police Academy movies), and George Dzundza (who I believe was partnered with Chris Noth on the first season of Law & Order.)

Anyway, that basically the highlights from this issue. It was really cool to get a look at the listings even though they weren’t my particular local stations growing up. It was cool to see what re-runs were playing at the time as well as all of the cartoons and such. Hopefully I’ll be showcasing another issue each week until I’ve made my way through the rest of the 80s (and I might hit a couple from the 90s just for good measure.)

Duh Dun, Duh Dun Dun, Da NANA NA NANA NA NANA, De Lena Lena LenA!!!

The first half of this year is going to be so much fun as far as 80′s (and a little bit of 70′s) nostalgia DVDs is concerned. Like the short list of out of print movies I’ve been waiting to be released on DVD, there is also a list of TV shows that I would love to own. The TV list is a lot longer than the movie list seeing as TV on DVD is pretty much in the middle of it’s DVD boom, but of the titles on the list there are a handful of shows that top the list that I wanted for awhile. The M.A.S.K. cartoon (which I think Shout Factory might be releasing in the near future), Family Ties (which will be coming out shortly), The Love Boat (did I just admit to that), and the topper CHiPs.

Well the wait on CHiPs is now over as Warner Brothers has officially announced that they will be releasing the complete season 1, 22 episodes in total, on June 5th. I have a really weird love and addiction for this show. Growing up I only saw it in re-runs and pretty much only on those days when I got to stay home sick from school as it was prime daytime TV, much like Gomer Pyle, Bewitched, Alice, and What’s Happening. It was like the equivalent of what Law and Order is for me now, an hour of harmless cop pseudo-drama but with a whole bunch more Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada. I used to cross my fingers every time I sat down to watch that it would be one of the Halloween episodes because I loved seeing Elvira guest star on the show.

Kage No Gundan, finally!

Man, as if I needed another reason to love BCI Eclipse, they’ve announced that they will be releasing the 1980 samurai/ninja show Kage No Gundan (the Shadow Warriors for us who got a chance to see it in America) season 1 on April 17th.

For those who don’t know, Kage No Gundan was the awesome television show starring Sonny Chiba as Hattroi Hanzo the leader of a once proud ninja clan that has fallen from grace and is hired again to protect the new young shogun. It’s basically set up like a crime drama with Chiba as the detective. If you haven’t seen the show, you might have seen Chiba portray a descendant of Hanzo in Kill Bill. In fact on further seasons of Kage No Gundan Chiba would reprise his role, though as a descendant of he character from the previous season, so each new series takes place like a few generations later. For Kill Bill Tarantino had Chiba reprise this role for the sword maker, both in homage and to link the film to the “universe” of samurai and kung-fu films he loves.

After I saw and fell in love with the Kill Bill flicks I spent awhile doing some research on the various films that inspired Tarantino and even went so far as to put together a list that my friend and I worked through last year. I ended up buying a bootleg copy of 2 episodes of Kage No Gundan off eBay because there were never any official releases in America. I’m so freaking glad that it’s going to be released on DVD soon so I can watch nicer versions, not to mention the rest of the first series.