Wednesday, April 05, 2006

TV Guide, 27 Years Ago This Week.

In yet another pointless exercise in pop nostalgia, this time out we find the April 7-13 1979 TV Guide with the delectable Maren Jensen of Battlestar Galactica on the cover.

In her interview, she says, "At 22, it's very nice to have a contract of maybe $100,000 a year over a term that could be ten years." Or, say, one year, as it turned out. She went on to add, "I'm definitely not hurting." Ironically, in the early eighties, she was among the first of the beautiful people to be diagnosed with Epstein-Barr (or possibly Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known in Hollywood as I-once-starred-on-a-series-and-now-I-can't-even-get-a-lousy-guest-shot-on-Love-Boat-so-why-bother-getting-out-of-beditis). Where is she now? Fifty.

On Saturday's Space Academy, "the robot Peepo invents a freezing machine to cool down hot planets, unaware that the ice it creates becomes a self-detonating explosive." Wait a minute--isn't that the plot of Cat's Cradle?

On the official Animal House TV show Delta House (not to be confused with Coed Fever or Brothers and Sisters), Michelle Pfeiffer strutted her pre-extensive-plastic surgery stuff as "Bombshell." Also in this ad: try to name the all-star cast pictured for that evening's Love Boat.

Also on Saturday night, one could check out Supertrain, Fred Silverman's Waterloo. The first model of the train cost about a million bucks, and crashed and burned on its trial run. The first four episodes were ratings poison, so it was retooled and returned with the sensational ep advertised here.

De Witt! Kopell! Farr! Tayback! The show didn't last much longer.

Among your syndicated program choices that night were The Cheap Show, That's Hollywood, Candid Camera, Dance Fever, Don Kirschner's Rock Concert and SCTV.

If you didn't stay up too late watching Wild Women of Wongo on WOR, then maybe you could have gotten up Sunday morning and checked out Davey and Goliath, wherein a "run-in with the school principal teaches Davey that God is approachable." Sounds like that principal thinks quite highly of himself. Later, on Kids are People Too, Kiki Dee and Fred Grandy will bore everyone back to bed, making them miss Alex and Annie's toe-tapping ditty about enuresis.

This show was a tremendous hit and had everyone buzzing about whether Pete and Nancy would ever get together, and then whether they would get together again, and then again, and would Randy's grandpa ever move out. Oh, and everyone had the Jill Whelan cut back then.

Sunday night featured a special on WPIX with Richard Kiley as an apparition who recalls the Passover feasts he has witnessed throughout history. It's called The Stranger in the Empty Chair, a title which creeps me out sufficiently to avoid ever being invited for any Seder anywhere. Man, I thought transubstantiation was weird.

Monday night brought us the sixth showing of It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, and the first showing of the 51st Annual Academy Awards hosted by Johnny Carson. Of course, the highlight of the program was Debby Boone singing "When You're Loved" from The Magic of Lassie.

On Monday: Here Comes Peter Cottontail, with Conan O'Brien.

On Thursday's Captain Kangaroo, Blunderman helps Dr. Noshman search for a missing cookie collection. I'm sure Mr. Lantern Fishworks would lend his estimable snickerdoodle-sniffing talents to the search (although he may be the prime suspect in this case). Personally, I'd suggest typing "Fudgetown" into Mapquest.

Last but not least, on the ABC Friday Night Movie, Like Normal People. Here's the ad, the copy for which appears to have been written by a third grader:

Why is the consummation of their love forbidden? They're retarded. Not profoundly retarded, of course, but pretty darn retarded. I'm going to confess something here: as a kid, I had it bad for the retarded. I mean, nothing tugged at my li'l heartstrings like a story of the hardships facing the mentally stunted. (Odd that these days I would have such an aversion to Paris Hilton.) Before this TV movie came along, I would have to say that my introduction to this genre was the seminal ABC Afterschool Special, Hewitt's Just Different.

Starring Perry Lang and Moosie Drier, Hewitt premiered October 12, 1977, and I can guarantee that that day after school found me stifling great shuddering sobs in the den, praying that my mom wouldn't come downstairs and wishing that I could beat up those big jerks on the baseball team who teased poor Hewitt. Lang's Cyrus Dewey-worthy performance was so good that, years later, I was nonplussed to see him in another show displaying no signs of deficiency. Had he somehow gotten better, I wondered for a moment? No, dumdum, it's called acting.

Just two weeks before Like Normal People debuted, there was No Other Love.

Brenda Morgenstern and John-Boy Walton, retarded and married? It was strange enough seeing Joe Hardy be retarded in LNP. I can't remember which movie I liked better of the two. Linda Purl was awful cute, so there's that. But No Other Love had a killer supporting cast in Robert Loggia, M. Emmet Walsh and Bad Ronald's Scott Jacoby. In the end, I'll have to go with Like Normal People because a) it was a true story, and b) as I watched it that night, I was excitedly assembling my Easter present which I'd gotten that day, the Darth Vader Action Model bust.

It was wicked cool, although the "rasping breathing sound" was just a little brush with stiff bristles that rubbed against a plastic disc in his neck when his head moved back and forth. What a gyp! And actually, the more I think about it, I remember mostly being terribly frustrated by the baffling instructions and many small pieces. Maybe that helpless feeling made me identify with the damaged protagonists of the film.

Yet later, there were the Bill movies with Mickey Rooney. Did I enjoy those retarded tearjerkers too? Well, DUH!


Blogger MO'SH said...

I just watched "Here Comes Peter Cottontail" with the nephews yesterday. That's a weird fucking special. Witches, an Iron Rabbit, and I think fucking Man-Bat in it as well!

Tue Apr 11, 12:15:00 AM 2006  

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