Monday, April 29, 2019

The Fantasy Trip, Part Two (1979 Newsday TV Books, April 29-May 5)

The second issue of my sparse 1979 collection spans April and May, and on the cover is Robert Duvall as Dwight David Eisenhower. Ike was a five-hour miniseries which, curiously, employed colorized newsreel footage. (All pics clickable--didn't Daffy Duck always say that?--for enlarged viewing...)
The cover story is nicely handled by Newsday Living Editor Warren Berry, who gives an interesting take on the film and provides plenty of facts (not to mention kudos for Patton portrayer Darrin McGavin, a favorite of your intrepid Non-Parader).
On the inside cover, as always, is the TV Line, the 70's version of DuckDuckGo. This one addresses readers' concerns about such pressing matters as Pat Boone's daredevilry, the whereabouts of J.J., and Mork's Satanic-sounding flair.
In the "Off Camera" column, Star Wars Holiday Special producer Steve Binder predicts big things for Suzee Chulick (who these days wisely goes by her married name, Suzee Bailey). He was right: a role on an episode of The Devlin Connection followed, along with a co-hosting gig with Bill Boggs, and improv tutelage from Eric Von Zipper himself (that's all according to this resume)--sounds pretty impressive to me!
Now, remember, I am looking at these schedules from the perspective of what I'd record if I somehow time-slipped back to 1979. (Didn't you read the previous post? Catch up, dammit! You will be given a related assignment shortly!) Sorry if I muddle my tenses, but it's a little confusing. Let's start, appropriately enough, with Sunday morning, this one notable for the helpful Daylight Saving Time reminder.
I see that Wonderama was still around, and it says here that it was still being hosted by Bob McAllister (despite what I see elsewhere online). Kids Are People Too, briefly hosted by McAllister until he was canned the previous November, is on at 10AM. According to the TV Guide for the week (yes, I have that too), the guests were Shari Lewis, the director of Rocky, and Evelyn "Champagne" King, who sang "Shame." I would record Wonderama, skip KAPT.
Here's the close-up for an NBC premiere movie, Swashbuckler, which I saw twice in the theater so I must have enjoyed it. The main thing I remember about it was Genevieve Bujold threatening to slice a guy's balls off, like holding a knife to his crotch and everything. Clearly it made an impression.
While I dug Swashbuckler, on this night it aired against a no-brainer for recording: An Emmy Award presentation focusing on New York TV, with a bunch of comedy heavyweights I wouldn't miss for anything. (Okay, maybe Billy Saluga's more of a middleweight.)
In the last TV Book, I displayed an ad for the North Shore Animal League, which declared "Puppy Circus Tonight!" without really explaining what that meant. This time, the come-on is much clearer: Two free Mets tickets with any adoption. (This is pre-season, mind you, which is even more boring than the World Series.)
Next up we have some ads, including a teen disco with a ongoing dance contest. In '79, I would have been two years shy of the minimum age, ensuring that my interpretation of Soupy Sales' "The Mouse" (performed perversely to the handed-down 45 of his "Pie in the Face," still in regular rotation for this odd boy) would have to go sadly unrecognized.
On Monday afternoon, Dinah! has an intriguing line-up, including Harry Shearer and Billy Crystal. It leads into Magic Garden, so, sure, I'd tape it. The close-up here is for a show I have in my collection, the 29th Annual Miss USA Beauty Pageant (with original commercials, natch). It featured the show-stopping "Waiting For the Robert E. Lee/Mississippi Disco" number--show-stopping in the sense that, at some point while watching, you will need to turn it off long enough to regain your laughter-depleted breath.
I see I've marked The Mike Douglas Show for recording here, but looking at it now I'm just not feeling it. A much tougher choice lay ahead at 7:30, when Gilda Radner cavorted with the Muppets on channel 2 while Leonard Nimoy searched for "Siberian fireball" two clicks over. (You make that with cinnamon schnapps, right?)
The trivia is kinda dull, but I like the ad with a guy getting strangled by a belt of credit cards. Please note that the Pioneer Diner Restaurant's "Prairie Schooner Lounge" is only at the Hauppauge location. Finally! A reason to visit Hauppauge!
I've never seen The Thirsty Dead but I'd record it, especially given John Cashman's wildly enthusiastic review. The less said about La Marr and Carlton the better.
Late-night Tuesday had Susan Sarandon appearing opposite herself, in Joe and guesting on The Tonight Show. I might record the former, as it's an interesting flick. Nah, who am I kidding? The Love Boat II it is, with childhood crush Kristy MacNichol...
I guess I could tape a WABC 4:30 Movie presentation of Soylent Green without regret, but I mainly scanned this page for the Record World/Record Shops at TSS ad touting James Galway, who did "Annie's Song" (along with a number of other "favorites" you've never heard of.
Curse of Bigfoot and The Brain That Wouldn't Die in one night? Score! And look, another flutist!
This page is really just here for the Gary Viskupic illustration, but I'd also like to note that I would absolutely be recording full afternoon line-ups on the local channels on a regular basis (maybe not WOR channel 9, as they didn't really do kid's programming). For the record, after the Jetsons, WPIX showed an hour of Tom & Jerry.
Yet another late-night sched, again with terrific horror choices. The Crazies? Yes please. But to choose between House of Wax and The Navy Vs. the Night Monsters? Agony, agony!
Since the next 1979 TVB I have is from June, I'll take this opportunity to show the weekday morning schedule while school was still in session. It most likely changed for the summer, and would definitely change by the time a new scholastic year rolled around. As for what I'd record, well... It's easier to mention what I wouldn't want preserved on VHS--namely, nothing!
More trivia, and an ad for an awning maker in a town that saw a lot of extra traffic passing one particular house this year (and it wasn't because it had such nice awnings)...
Okay, it's time for your assignment. Here's the entire Saturday schedule. You have two VHS tapes, one to record something (or some things) you find essential, stuff you want to preserve as pristinely as possible at the clearer two-hour speed, and the other one for taping on six-hour, meaning lesser clarity but--duh--more time. So you tell me: what goes on each tape?
You can keep in mind that it's "Star Wars Day," May the fourth, if that means anything to you--and hey, you could be the one to introduce this idea to your dorky pals! (Oh wait. The fourth was yesterday. Never mind.)
"King Bagel Hero"--At last, a Marvel movie set on Long Island!
Finally, the cable listings page. April Fools sounds like something I would want to check out, and what the hell, let's find out exactly what Helen Colicott has to say. (I presume, since her program is coming from Brookhaven, location of the Brookhaven National Laboratory and its two reactors, that the speaker is in fact anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott. Way to proofread, Newsday.)
Alright, that's it... Next time out, I'll have issues from THREE consecutive weeks at the end of June! Perfect, just when TV is at its most boring! See ya then!

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Fantasy Trip, Part One (1979 Newsday TV Books, March 18-24)

It's the onset of a new year (well... it was when I originally wrote this), and I figured I'd stick with the anniversary thing as far as blog posts go and spend most of my time nostalgically ruminating on 1979. I only have a few Newsday TV Book television listings from that year, so I thought that in addition to covering the usual features, I'd also look at them through the lens of a collector's fantasy that has occurred to me often.

Let me explain the premise of my time-travel fantasy. (No, not the one where I go back and shtup Emily Dickinson--although
from time to time I still dust that off, so to speak). I mean one of my nostalgia addict fantasies. There are several--all impossible, of course, and yet somehow they reside on different planes of absurdity--but for now I'm talking about a very specific idea. Here it is: I have awakened on what should have been my fiftieth birthday. (This dubious milestone is in fact occurring later this very week.) I think I am emerging from a dream about my childhood bedroom, but I gradually realize that no, that's exactly where I am. I have somehow time-slipped back to the day of my 8th birthday, in 1977. Other than my adult consciousness existing in my young body, everything is exactly the same as this long-ago occasion.

I chose this particular date because that would be about a month-and-a-half prior to the release of Star Wars, the insatiable obsession of five whole years of my youth, thus allowing me to begin collecting SW-related junk well before anyone realized it would become its own industry. Of course, I'd need to fund this collection, which would mean a lot less TV-watching. (Not such a big deal, I guess, since I've already seen what I've seen and thus can safely skip additional viewings of that brain-damaging pile of shit Scooby-Doo.) I would need to perform more household chores for a proper allowance, maybe take on a Newsday route and some minor landscaping gigs with neighbors, none of which ever happened back in the day because I was too busy studying every Our Gang film on channel 5 by
observing each one at least a hundred times.

Upon accepting my new reality (and let's just say I'm quickly able to, although in fact I often have trouble with real reality), there are many issues immediately at hand. First I think of my wife. I'll miss her, but there's nothing I can do about it. What am I gonna do, go find her? Let's imagine that scenario: "Long Island boy, 8, runs away from home to Ohio, says he's intent on stalking a six-year-old girl he's never met. Unclear how he knows of her, has no answer for what he intends to do if he finds her. Sent to mental hospital for evaluation."

Would I be able to look at my parents without crying? They don't know they've been dead for years, so if I don't knock off the boo-hooing pretty quickly, boom--mental hospital. (Boy, isn't that just the way it goes with time-travel?) Oh shit! I have to endure school again! Good luck dealing with Mrs. A______, my 7th Grade English teacher, who was in over her head by at least two grades. I wasn't even successful at holding my tongue back then: She once wrote "Whose this?" next to a face my friend had doodled on his test paper, and when I pointed it out just to jokingly razz her a little bit, she argued that it was correct. After minutes of trying to explain why it wasn't, I finally had to walk away. And she was one of my more tolerable teachers!

The idea of being perpetually surrounded by children is one I've found distasteful at pretty much every stage of my life. I wasn't overly fond of them even when I belonged to their smelly, sticky ranks. Now I'd have no choice but to immerse myself and have daily conversations with them. I can imagine longing for the day they can at least semi-coherently parrot the dull opinions of their idiot parents. 

Yep, far too many abstruse implications to mentally navigate with this theme, so let us stick to the superficial, shall we? As I said, I have a mere handful of '79 Newsday TV Books, so I'm going to forego the 1977 setting and look at those instead. The first one I have is from the week of my tenth birthday, with the Dukes on the cover (a show I never ever watched, by the way):

As I scan these pages like I normally do in my overviews (see: eight billion previous posts), I'll make a note of what I would record if my current psyche was in my then-small-yet-pudgy-body. I guess I'd have to buy a VCR with my earnings (my family wouldn't own one for another five years), which would have taken a sizeable chunk of change back then--not to mention that tapes were about fifteen bucks a pop! I might also make a case to my folks for getting cable a couple years early, and God knows what that ran. Anyway, the TV listings...

It’s an especially dumb TV Line this time out, with questions about Latka’s language, that unknown actor who plays J.R., and the soap opera credits attributable to ABBA and the singer for the Islanders (which would be zero, despite what the husband of J.M. from Bellmore thinks).
The familiar ads for the famed North Shore Animal League usually hawked free gifts for adopters, but this one instead barked, “Puppy Circus Today! Tonight!” What the fuck does this mean? Were they putting puppies on a trapeze? Shooting them from cannons? Dressing them up like clowns—my god, now that’s inhumane!
There are multiple hypnosis ads in this issue, generally targeting overeating and smoking. How about
a program for losing that atrocious Long Island accent, or driving less maniacally on the LIE?

The Cheryl Ladd film about child abuse mentioned in the new column “Off Camera” ended up being When She Was Bad, premiering that November. Also getting mentions are E. Duke Vincent and cigar-maker’s son William S. Paley.
First thing Sunday morning, on WNET (the noted PBS station perhaps better known as just “channel 13”), was the Laurel and Hardy movie Way Out West. Reviewer John Cashman opined, “L&H fans will swallow it whole. Others will not.” While I liked March of the Wooden Soldiers and a few shorts, I never went out of my way to watch their movies, so I don’t know that I would record this. The fact that it would include a station sign-on is a big plus, however. As far as comedy teams go, I would definitely record some of the long-running Sunday afternoon Abbott & Costello movies off WPIX, particularly when they met Frankenstein and went to Mars. The films of the Bowery Boys I could do without, but again, the WNEW airings were such a mainstay that I’d probably collect a few. I don’t think Angels with Dirty Faces really counts as a BB entry (especially since that was when they were being billed as the Dead End Kids), but I did enjoy it, so I’d snag that at some point.
I might record this off-season showing of King Kong, but the traditional Thanksgiving Day airing would be a must. Here we get the Cashman review accompanied by a Gary Viskupic illustration. 
Maybe it’s just something about that font, but only in the 70’s could the name of a ceramic tile warehouse seem like it had a naughty connotation.

Another new feature in the TV Book is this ratings list of the top twenty shows. This was also around the time the average person mysteriously took an interest in box office results, and the arts have suffered ever since.
On Sunday night’s Mary Tyler Moore Hour, Mary and guest star Bonnie Franklin are arrested for jay-walking outside the studio while dressed as Little Bo Peep and Little Red Riding Hood. Sounds excruciating, even with Henny Youngman on hand. So, yeah, I'd totally tape it.
 (Big Hat = Comedy, and if you disagree you can take it up with Ms. Bonnie Franklin.)

I associate late Sunday nights on NYC TV with David Susskind, so I might tape this night’s show, with paparazzi as the main topic. I’d love to catch the first airing of the “How to Be a Jewish Son” episode, with Mel Brooks and George Segal, who nearly garrotes himself with the microphone cord when he enthusiastically leaps from his seat while singing (if memory serves) “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate"; that one was repeated endlessly during Susskind’s run. [Non-Parader's Note: I just added the link to the show, and I was right about the song but wrong about the garroting. It wasn't that bad, just yanked him back a little.] There’s also a Carry On movie at midnight—never watched one, don't know anyone who did, so no thanks.

Monday morning, WNBC starts the day with a program about coal’s use in aerospace, followed by a Not For Women Only titled “Infant / Schoolboy.” Hmm. Again, I'd like to have the sign-on, but I might look for something that sounds a bit catchier.

At 6 PM, WWHT 68 had the Uncle Floyd Show. 1979 is a bit before I started watching Floyd’s low-budget UHF antics, but the question remains: Would I attempt to record the show daily? That’s a lot of tape, especially considering there’s no way I’m editing out those local New Jersey bargain basement commercials. (Yes, I'm talking about you, $2.98 camera.) Of course, I seem to recall a lot of those ads being replayed quite frequently, so zapping redundancies would be possible. So, yes, record them all! 

Alright, I'm pretty much gonna call it a day as far as potential recordings go, but here are a few more items I found worthy of scanning...

I must mention that late Friday has a couple of horror flicks I'd record (although the TVB categorizes them as "Weird" and "Thriller").
For the sake of having as comprehensive a collection of Viskupic art as possible, here's his drawing for a women's tennis tournament, but he's clearly phoning it in.