Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TV Guide Time Machine

...Not to be confused with the Hot Tub Time Machine!

I don't consider that new, glossy Hollywood-gossip and trash magazine to be TV Guide (despite the familiar logo). The old ones were the real TV Guides. This new "version" barely even has TV listings in it anymore. And they don't cover local programming at all--just what's on the major networks, cable channels, PBS...

A couple years ago I started looking at old TV Guides from the Boston/Worcester/Eastern New England regions. I wanted to see the listings for the local TV stations from back when I was a kid (roughly 1975-1985) and when WLVI TV56 played Creature Double Feature on Saturday afternoons. In fact, CDF was the main reason I wanted to check these old issues out. But then I discovered that the old TV Guides can act as a sort of time machine (at best) or at least a time capsule (at worst) for someone who watched a goodly amount of TV as a kid. Old TV Guides have now developed into a bit of an obsession for me.

I did spend a lot of time playing outside as a kid, and enjoyed a variety of other activities besides sitting in front of the tube. But I did enjoy sitting in front of the tube too! In the mid-80s I used to love racing home from school to watch the old 1960s "Spiderman" cartoon on channel 25. After that I'd watch Force Five and Star Blazers. That would give me enough animated excitement to last until the next day.

The weekend was the best time of the week for a kid of course--both TV-wise and otherwise. My absolute favorite part of the week was the moment I got home from school on Friday. It was the longest possible time until I had to go back to school. A perfect TV weekend would include watching the standard cartoons listed above after school on Friday afternoon, and then watching "The Incredible Hulk" and "The Dukes of Hazard" later on channel 7 (CBS).

Saturday would start with cartoons--at least until I got my paper route and never seemed to manage to get up early enough to do the route AND get home in time to watch cartoons. That was okay though, because at 1:00 in the afternoon channel 56 would roll out Creature Double Feature--a twosome of some of the scariest (to a little kid at least) and most exciting monster, horror and sci-fi movies that a geeky kid could ever ask for. After a Godzilla movie (or something similar) at 1:00 and another spookfest at 2:30, WLVI 56 would run it's 4 O'Clock movie. Sometimes this would be something cool like a Don Knotts comedy ("The Reluctant Astronaut", "The Shakiest Gun in the West", "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken", "The Incredible Mr. Limpet...), but was more frequently a Doris Day comedy or an Annete Funicello/Frankie Avalon beach movie--not really my cup of tea. Things would perk up at 6:00 though when Channel 27 would air it's weekly Abbott & Costello movie. I'd always hope for one like "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein", "Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy" or "Abbott & Costello go to Mars", but pretty much any Abbott & Costello movie would suffice. Saturday night would close out with "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" on WCVB Channel 5 (ABC).

So, back to the TV Guides. I originally wanted to look through them to see the ads that WLVI sometimes put in for Creature Double Feature, but then I started seeing all the other great programming that was on TV--even in those dark days before cable and having hundreds of channels with nothing good to watch on them. I haven't even mentioned WSBK TV38 and all the monster movies that they'd play. Or the fact that channel 38 had Dana Hersey and The Movie Loft, and it was the channel that introduced me to "The Twilight Zone" on late nights in the mid-80s when I was supposed to be in bed!

Leafing through those old TV Guides isn't like entering a real time machine of course--it's not like you can check what's on and then flip on the TV, adjust the rabbit ears, and start watching those same old shows. But it's a pretty neat and nostalgic thing to do just the same. Now that almost EVERYTHING is available on DVD, one could conceivably re-create a day's programming from the TV Guide if one really wanted to I suppose.

I'm now doing a little collecting of TV Guides from certain specific periods of my youth (namely that same 1975-1985 range mentioned earlier). I'm hoping to scan some of the neat ads that appeared in them for movies and TV shows. Most likely I'll be writing some blogs that will be based on these listings in some way in the near future. Not sure exactly what the format will be, but Stay Tuned.

...Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel!

1 comment:

  1. I spent part of this evening lying on a blanket in Elm Park (Worcester), listening to the band The Red Riders...and reading a TV Guide from February 1977! It had a full-page ad for the premiere of the movie "The Last Dinosaur" in it! Too cool.