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A General Questions About Oldies TV Shows?


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#1 of 33 OFFLINE   Jack Platt

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Posted September 27 2005 - 08:15 PM

Guys,

Why is it that shows like I Love Lucy and Leave it to Beaver have held up in terms of picture quality over time on TV Land's/syndicated prints of these episodes (for the most part) where as other shows from the same era are in such poor quality that they are barely recognizable?

I also learned through research that most Game Shows from the 50's-60's have been destroyed or are considered "lost." Apparently networks did not realize during those years the marque value of running a game show. So when space became too clogged to store the tapes. (Which I think is a lame excuse) the tapes were destroyed. In fact, estimates range that up to 75% of game shows created up to 1975 no longer exist or are "lost."

A lot of classic older shows are considered gone forever, and some tapes were destroyed or erased without the consent of the show hosts. (Such as some episodes of The Mike Douglas Show.) Johnny Carson's first two years of tapes of The Tonight Show, no longer exist or are "lost." The clips for the Retrospective Specials on the tapes/DVD's had to be recreated from some audio tape that was lent by a home viewer and archived footage found in the vaults. The first two Superbowls are also "lost" in their complete versions and the classic daytime game show versions of Password, which ran from 1971-1975 was erased. The original Match Game from 1962-1969 is mostly gone. Only 11 Original Match Game episodes are known to exist, some in The Libraray of Congress and some on the tape trading circut, which are presumably kinascope copies in very poor quality. For The Match Game (1962-1969 version), about 1100 episodes were produced. Passwoed from 1971-1975 has about 8 episdes on the trading circut, some are which are believed to be vaulted at UCLA, but are considered poor quality. All of the first two years of "What's My Line" are also considered lost or destroyed.

Who made these decisions to erase these shows in the first place? Concerning the "lost" episodes of vintage TV/Game shows has anyone ever bothered to look for them and how much of a demand would this have to a TV collector if they were to turn up? We do know that 16mm prints or a similar back-up medium had to be used. This tells me that somewhere out there these shows may still exist. My question is, where would collectors go to begin to hunt down some of this stuff?

Jack

#2 of 33 OFFLINE   JeffWld

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Posted September 28 2005 - 01:28 AM

Quote:
Johnny Carson's first two years of tapes of The Tonight Show, no longer exist or are "lost."


Actually, it is the first 10 years that was erased by NBC (1962-72).

Quote:
All of the first two years of "What's My Line" are also considered lost or destroyed.


A few exist from that era, including the first episode. There are also missing kinescopes from the last network year as well.

Quote:
A lot of classic older shows are considered gone forever, and some tapes were destroyed or erased without the consent of the show hosts. (Such as some episodes of The Mike Douglas Show.)


The first 2 years of the Mike Douglas Show were not retained, mainly because it was a live local show in Cleveland and KYW-TV just kept reusing the tapes. An audit points to about 75% of the shows are still in existence. Unfortuantely, because of the massive volume, there is no remastering project to save these shows from deteriorating 2" tapes.

#3 of 33 OFFLINE   JasonPW

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Posted September 28 2005 - 01:30 AM

As a fan, I share your anger and frustration at the way some of these shows were burned, tossed in the dumpster, dumped in the East River, bulk-erased and taped over, etc etc etc.

There's an entire network's worth of destroyed television episodes--the DuMont network, which folded in 1955. Apparently, thousands of kinescopes were trashed when that network ceased to exist.

As far as the game show deletions, you have to look at things from a 1974 perspective. The network was never going to run those shows again--cable TV existed solely as a way to provide network stations to people who couldn't get them with an antenna. If you went back to 1974 and told the guy holding the bulk eraser that someday there would be a 24-hour television network airing nothing but cancelled, decades-old game shows....well, you'd be patted on the head and sent to the asylum. It doesn't make the loss any less painful, but hopefully easier to understand.

Ironically, those 2 examples you give (70's ABC Password and original 60's Match Game) are very rare examples of Goodson-Todman shows that WEREN'T archived. The Goodson archive contains the last 15 years of "What's My Line", a nearly complete library of "I've Got a Secret"--thousands of hours of well-preserved programming with, as I said, very few exceptions--most of which seem to be at the hand of a network bulk eraser.
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#4 of 33 OFFLINE   Steve Phillips

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Posted September 28 2005 - 02:54 AM

"I Love Lucy" and "Leave it to Beaver" were shot on film, so there is a good source.

Early on, many series (especially game shows) were often broadcast live and the only record is a kinescope, which is a copy made by pointing a movie camera at a monitor while the live program was being broadcast.

When videotape started to come into use in the late 50s, that helped but many of those old tapes aren't in good shape, and in many cases have been destroyed because the formats became obsolete, and because no one thought anyone would care about seeing a 50 year old game show.

#5 of 33 OFFLINE   Brian Himes

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Posted September 28 2005 - 05:55 AM

The infamous mass NBC eraser of tapes. I've followed this story for many, many years now. From what I have gathered this is what happened. Sometime between 1978-79 it was decided that the NBC vault was getting full and thus a massive 'bonfire' of tapes were either erased, destroyed or reused. Among the casulties were several game shows, soaps and various other shows. The biggies were The Tonight Show, the first Super Bowl, Another World, Concentration, the original Match Game and Hollywood Squares. The Hollywood Squares only exists from 78 to the end of the daytime run of the show. Fortunately, the distributer of the nighttime Hollywood Squares tapes did save the shows. So from 74-78, the night time Hollywood Squares has been found in the MGM vaults along with the brief 68 nighttime Squares was found.

There was a lot of flak from certain people associated with these shows. Johnny Carson being one of them. NBC claims that the producers of the shows were contacted before the destruction of the shows but that seems to be unlikely considering Carson's reaction. However, I don't think Carson was the producer on the Tonight Show's early years.

It seems that most of the prime time shows escaped destruction. The mass destruction looks to have been concentrated on daytime shows and late night shows. Which makes sense if you think about it. For expample, a soap like Another World runs 5 days a week for 52 weeks a year. That's 260 or so shows a year. This can take up a lot of room in the vault. Now, just the 70-78 run of Another World consists of 2,340 shows. That's a lot of space and tapes to maintain for a show that will more than likely never be rerun.

With advent of cable and now satelite channels, the market for these old shows is opening up. Unfortunately, the damage has been done. The shows are lost forever. The good news is that several affilate stations kept somes tapes of old shows so several of the lost shows have been turning up in recent years. While complete runs of these shows is rarely found, at least some episodes do turn up now and again.

#6 of 33 OFFLINE   John*D

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Posted September 28 2005 - 06:09 AM

Build a time machine and bring a computer, a dvd burner, 10,000+ Blank DVD-R's, plus whatever other equipment you need to transfer the shows...

Posted Image Muhahahhaha

We just didnt' know back then the value of maintaining these shows/programs that really didn't seem to have any value.

At least future generations will have access to the shows we watch today.

#7 of 33 OFFLINE   JeffWld

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Posted September 28 2005 - 06:44 AM

Quote:
At least future generations will have access to the shows we watch today.


Which could be considered either a punishment or a reward...depending on your perspective.

#8 of 33 OFFLINE   Jack Platt

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Posted September 28 2005 - 08:03 AM

Quote:
There was a lot of flak from certain people associated with these shows. Johnny Carson being one of them. NBC claims that the producers of the shows were contacted before the destruction of the shows but that seems to be unlikely considering Carson's reaction. However, I don't think Carson was the producer on the Tonight Show's early years.


So I take it from the Tonight Show's 60-90's VHS/DVD sets that all that remains prior to 1972 are the show clips?

But didn't Carson have ALL the shows archived from the beginning in some envirnmentally controlled underground vault so that they could be preserved for an indefinite period of time? (I think it's in Kansas, not sure.)

Jack

PS. I therefore assume that obviously the Steve Allen and Jack Paar versions are long long gone.

#9 of 33 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted September 28 2005 - 08:06 AM

Quote:
It seems that most of the prime time shows escaped destruction. The mass destruction looks to have been concentrated on daytime shows and late night shows.


Most daytime and late night shows aired live or (starting in the late 50s) on videotape and were produced by the networks and/or local TV stations. Most primemtime fare was shot on film and produced by a Hollywood studio. That alone explains much of the differential survival of the two types of programming. You could, after all, erase and reuse a videotape, that was one of the ways video was more economical than film. And who cared about yesterday's soap plot twist or wanted to watch for a second time a game whose outcome you already knew?

The network produced stuff was emphemeral, disposable with no obvious future use, like a daily newspaper. The studio stuff was more like a glossy magazine or a book. The studios expected to make more money by re-selling their stuff into the secondary market, syndication.

By the mid-60s production costs had risen and the networks' collective bargaining position improved to the point where most primetime shows were being produced at a loss (the networks were paying less in license fees per episode than the studios were spending to crank out the shows) and the only way the studios could turn a profit was by selling shows into syndication. (But then it could make a fortune by running a successful show forever, even as failed shows - those with fewer than 100 episodes, too few for syndication - were a dead loss.)

So the studios had a serious financial incentive to save their TV product, while the networks didn't have a correseponding interest. Neither had any interest in preserving anything for "history" or "future generations", they were just reacting to business imperatives.

BTW, you can thank Desi Arnaz for much of this. A largely unsung pioneer of the business side of television, Desi pretty much invented the 3-camera filmed sitcom and the whole notion of syndication, residuals and the producer owning a show he only licenses to a network for broadcast. He also invented the summer rerun, since it was now possible to rerun a series during its summer hiatus, which was much cheaper than producing a whole other show to fill the empty weeks.

Regards,

Joe

#10 of 33 OFFLINE   Brian Himes

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Posted September 28 2005 - 08:46 AM

Quote:
So I take it from the Tonight Show's 60-90's VHS/DVD sets that all that remains prior to 1972 are the show clips?

But didn't Carson have ALL the shows archived from the beginning in some envirnmentally controlled underground vault so that they could be preserved for an indefinite period of time? (I think it's in Kansas, not sure.)


This may have happened just prior to or shortly after the massive NBC tape eraser. Since I have seen several clips of Bette Midler in her first appearance on the Tonight Show, which was around 72, Johnny may have managed to save most of the pre-78 Tonight Shows, but he didn't get them all. His first ever appearance as host is long gone. Lost to the annals of time. More than likely, any episodes that were produced under Carson Productions survives. Anything before that is anyone's guess. Probably destroyed. NBC was very short sighted when they did this whole mess in 78-79.

#11 of 33 OFFLINE   Jeff#

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Posted September 28 2005 - 08:51 AM

Why are the 1960s Password shows (black & white videotape and color tape) all in their original pristine condition, but the 1970s Password tapes are nowhere to be found? Could it be that back in those days that CBS had the good sense to save great series shot on tape but ABC did not?

That isn't always the case: The early 1960s Ernic Kovacs specials were taped originally, and ABC preserved all dozen or so of those.

#12 of 33 OFFLINE   MishaLauenstein

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Posted September 28 2005 - 09:18 AM

QUOTE

At least future generations will have access to the shows we watch today.

END QUOTE

Yeah, like ALF, Roseanne, The Cosby Show. Posted Image

Uh. Posted Image

Hmm. Posted Image
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#13 of 33 OFFLINE   Jack Platt

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Posted September 28 2005 - 12:00 PM

Quote:
Why are the 1960s Password shows (black & white videotape and color tape) all in their original pristine condition, but the 1970s Password tapes are nowhere to be found? Could it be that back in those days that CBS had the good sense to save great series shot on tape but ABC did not?


Most of the 1960's nightime Passwords were saved. But the daytime 1960's versions are gone along with the 1970's editions. I think it was because it was CHEAPER for a network to produce and maintain a nightime series, than a daytime one. That's what I read somewhere anyway.

Jack

#14 of 33 OFFLINE   Will_B

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Posted September 28 2005 - 01:42 PM

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Build a time machine and bring a computer, a dvd burner, 10,000+ Blank DVD-R's, plus whatever other equipment you need to transfer the shows...


Additionally, if NASA could somehow jet out into deep, deep space and look back upon the Earth, they may be able to tune in some of the channels "live".

Alternately, someday we may be able to enter parallel realities that exist alongside our own, in which similar (though not identical) histories exist. In some of those worlds, they may have saved the tapes, and maybe they'd let us "borrow them" for a bit. Except that Johnny Carson isn't the host in the parallel world. The host is ...a damn, dirty ape!
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#15 of 33 OFFLINE   Jeff#

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Posted September 28 2005 - 02:55 PM

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Except that Johnny Carson isn't the host in the parallel world. The host is ...a damn, dirty ape!
Some of Johnny's ex-wives have said that about him in this world. Posted Image

#16 of 33 OFFLINE   David Rain

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Posted September 28 2005 - 02:57 PM

One of the classic examples is Your Show Of Shows. Very few of those episodes remain today, apparantly. I'm guessing kinescopes were the only way they were ever "filmed".

I'm also wondering how many (if any) of the Steve Allen and/or Jack Parr Tonight Shows exist today.
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#17 of 33 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted September 28 2005 - 04:50 PM

In the game show arena it was common for daytime versions to be produced exclusively for a given network but for nightime editions to be sold through syndication to individual stations. So the producers would own the evening version and it would be preserved or not according to their own policies, while the daytime version would be in the hands of the network.

Regards,

Joe

#18 of 33 OFFLINE   Jeff#

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Posted September 28 2005 - 07:05 PM

That's not always the case, because the only nighttime edition of The Hollywood Squares airing in this century (on Game Show Network reruns) was that brief period on network primetime -- NBC in 1968. The rest of them are NBC daytime, and only those made from 1971 to later in that decade. Try to find the syndicated Squares that Peter Marshall hosted from 1971 to 1982. They may be available, but Game Show doesn't seem to have them.

#19 of 33 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted September 29 2005 - 02:34 AM

Quote:
That's not always the case


Which is why I said, "It was common...", rather than, "It was always the case..." Posted Image

Regards,

Joe

#20 of 33 OFFLINE   David Bixenspan

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Posted September 29 2005 - 04:18 AM

I know some Paar footage exists, I've seen footage from his last Tonight Show.


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