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Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Frank Soyke, May 17, 2013.
TVLand also aired 77 Sunset Strip for about a month!
And now that TBS has become so obsessed with becoming the Sitcom Network, with original programming and "themed" Seinfeld reruns, I confess:I'm now partliy ashamed of being one of those cable viewers so disgruntled with Turner's hyperactive "I own 'em" merchandising of their few limited low-rent syndicated properties in the 80's (Nick at Nite was showing every classic rerun in existence, and TBS was reminding us they showed Leave It to Beaver?...Oooo!), we actually used to laugh at those "Ted Turner and Jane Fonda's Wedding Night" jokes of their day:
"No, Ted, not another Tom & Jerry cartoon, just come to bed!"
"Okay, honey, I'll be Floyd the Barber, and you be Aunt Bee!...Here comes the lil' Beastmaster, through the Portal of Time!"
...To think we didn't appreciate what we had, back then.
Cable syndication is what made me the vintage television fan I am today. Nick at Nite with Donna Reed, Mister Ed, My Three Sons, I Spy, Route 66 and Dennis the Menace; Disney Channel with Mickey Mouse Club, Zorro and the anthology series. Not a day goes by I do not thank my stars for being an 80s kid and the summer time, right around this time every year, for getting to stay home and have the TV on in the living room and falling asleep on the couch exposed to all this stuff that, to this day, I try to recapture as best I can.
I'm going to go all out and say my favorite station of alll time was WKBD channel 50(Detroit). During the early and mid 80's the morning/lunchtime/after school line ups were amazing. Weekday mornings consisted of Bewitched/I Dream of Genie, lunch time was(I used to come home from school during lunch) The Munsters/ I Love Lucy....after school was Gilligan's Island/Brady Bunch. I watched every episode of every show multiple times, and loved every one.
I remember the early days of F/X-The Greatest American Hero which at the time was long forgotten, Grizzly Adams, Hart To Hart, and Fantasy Island. How great is that?
In the 1980s we had the best of all worlds. Home video was new, cable was becoming more prevalent, and Saturday morning cartoons were still around, so it was easy to get a good mix of old and new shows of all genres. The Disney Channel in its pay-cable days was like an extensive crash course in Disney history, and Nickelodeon had a lot of great shows, too (they also had the rights to Looney Tunes, where IIRC they were less censorious than Cartoon Network or the broadcast networks). Ironically, the shows from the 1980s barely had any time to stick around in reruns before talk shows and court shows crowded them out. Almost nothing from either the 1980s or 1990s gets rerun today except the heavy hitters, which are all on DVD.Nick at Nite's finest moment was when they decided to show I Love Lucy uncut in its debut marathon. Regrettably, that didn't become the default, and they switched to the same cut versions as everybody else. The editing situation has gotten worse since then, and it got to the point where the sloppy, systematic wholesale editing, increasingly noisy commercials and distracting visual clutter made virtually all of basic cable unwatchable until Mad Men premiered. DVD box sets couldn't have come at a better time.
It was a cultural Perfect Storm in 1983-86:
Cable was just going national, new channels that up till now had been just satellite feed (like CBN becoming the Family Channel, or the ex-sports network USA) were springing up trying to follow the MTV "theme network" gold-rush with no programming except homemade or syndicated reruns, and "The Big Chill" had just made us conscious of our grownup 60's childhoods and started us singing Motown songs again. Nick at Nite wanted to spin off a channel of cheap syndicated reruns, and make themselves a cultural identity out of Donna Reed and Mister Ed jokes in their promos.
Before the 80's, reruns were just ON--Local stations showed Bewitched or Jeannie to fill a half hour, and then usually in the afternoons for the housewives and kids. We weren't even making jokes about favorite lines or tropes from the series. (When Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks played "Guess that TV theme" in the Twilight Zone Movie in '83, that may have been the tipping point in the 80's where we all first started thinking about Classic TV as its own art form.)
Before I stopped following tv shows regularly in the late 1980's, I vaguely recall watching reruns of shows like the original Knight Rider, CHiPs, etc ... on various local channels. (Typically after midnight).
Then over the next two decades or so, I largely didn't pay much attention to television shows (other than Star Trek reruns and sometimes Silk Stalkings).
When I started following television shows again in 2007, local channels and many basic cable channels were largely filled with infomercials after midnight. No more reruns of 1980's shows.
Eventually I started buying dvd season sets of 1970's and 1980's tv shows from my youth, when they were showing up in the bargain bins for $15-$20 each or less.
I recently pulled out a TV Guide from 80. All I can say is WOW! I won't list every syndicated show from the 60's-70's there that was shown throughout the day, but suffice it to say, name it.
I had such high hopes when TV Land debuted as "Nick at Nite's TV Land." I still have a videotape from Nick at Nite giving a preview night showing Hogan, That Girl, The Munsters, etc. All gloriously uncut and no annoying ads.
I let the satellite go for a while and then my father called me bragging that TV Land had picked up The Beverly Hillbillies. We were at his house (late 90's I'm guessing, maybe early 00's) and I sat down anxious to see it unedited again. Nope. The same tired butchered episodes as before. I taped Get Smart and one episode clocked in at barely 20 minutes due to some major butchering. Wow, a whole 5 minutes taken off!!!