FALL 1982!

The last time we had one of these, something unexpected happened. A chain reaction was initiated that ultimately resulted in the launch of an entire webcomic based around one of the shows I scanned in. A show, mind you, I hadn't heard of before I found it in TV Guide. Could it happen again? What in this new batch of scans could potentially be resurrected THIS time?

Nah....not this one. Too similar.

The 1982-83 season was one of the outright luckiest years network TV has ever had. St. Elsewhere, Knight Rider, Remington Steele, TJ Hooker, Cagney and Lacey, Silver Spoons, Cheers, Newhart and Family Ties all made their debuts at this time. Even shows that only lasted one season, like Joanie Loves Chachi or Square Pegs, still have enough name recognition to be known of by today's public. To fall into obscurity during this period, you had to bomb really, REALLY hard. Tucker's Witch was the season's first casualty, only airing six episodes before it was pulled off the fall schedule (maybe less, if a last-minute switch happened again). This was the only print ad the show got.

Maybe it was doomed from the start. CBS apparently had such little confidence, they gave the Fall Preview promotional photo to the couple's cat.

Although, this photo might have more to do with the fact that the two leads had to be recast late in development. The woman above was originally Kim Cattrall, but the network didn't like her performance. When she went, the original male lead (Art Hindle) had to go too. The title was also altered (from "The Good Witch of Laurel Canyon," which I admit does sound a lot worse). Bottom line is, CBS stuck with it because they wanted something to compete with Hart to Hart.

So they scheduled it against Dynasty.

Example B: The Powers of Matthew Star, which was cursed before it even began. This was actually intended for the 1981 season but got delayed an entire year. Its star was horribly burned in an accident during filming and had to take time off. Then there was a writer's strike, backstage drug problems, and one of the producers had a heart attack and died. It was just bad luck to try anything with a supernatural theme that year.

There were at least two responses to Raiders of the Lost Ark this season: Bring 'Em Back Alive, starring Bruce Boxleitner, and Tales of the Gold Monkey, which some have claimed TaleSpin was ripping off. Well, it's a vaguely 1930's setting.....and the hero flies his cargo plane a lot.....and makes a lot of pitstops at a bar situated on an island in the middle of the ocean.....run by a guy named Louie.....

But this Louie isn't Louis Prima, it's a foppish Frenchman. And there's no orphan kid surfing through the air, or Danger Woman, or most importantly, no Don Karnage. It has about as much in common with Gold Monkey as it does with The Jungle Book, is what I'm saying.

Being an adventure series, Gold Monkey got some of the best-looking ads. I shall scan them all!

They cast the dog with the eyepatch four times. One dog died before shooting and another got scooped up by another show. It was Kim Cattrall at one point.

Miss Piggy had her own talk show? Who knew? Not I.

Oh dear. Some will argue it's hard to make a show like this worse, but replacing Bo and Luke Duke with coincidental cousins for one season was one of the more infamous mistakes a network TV show has made.

1982 was a weird period for Saturday Morning. In addition to this being the time a certain Laverne and Shirley cartoon went on the air, Gary Coleman was also cast in his own animated series -- and the premise was that he was dead. There was also "Pandamonium" on CBS, which I can't describe as well as it can describe itself:

Just in case that video disappears like I know it will: There was once this item called the Pyramid of Power that granted its possessor control of the universe, and a dark wizard named Mondragoor attempted to steal it, but it wound up breaking into many pieces, three of which went into three pandas, granting them speech, bipedal mobility and separate superpowers. They could also transform into one giant superpanda, the Poppapanda, when things got really tough. (Just bear with me.) Together with the two required American children of opposing gender, the pandas raced across the world to find the other pyramid shards and thwart Mondragoor.

I'm not sure what exactly happened. My theory is that after making nothing but Scooby Doo clones for the entire 1970's, the animation studios forgot how to make other kinds of cartoons and had to stab at it blindly until they learned again.

So.....let's talk about Square Pegs.

Before Freaks and Geeks, and decades before humor based around adolescent awkwardness and embarrassment was ever a trend, a Saturday Night Live alum (from the good years) wanted to make a series set in high school, focused on the unpopular and stupid, with completely unglamorous and mortifying storylines. Unheard of for '82. Because of her position, she got the go-ahead, and perhaps a little too much power for her own good.

She declared it would be a single-camera comedy shot on film. That was a good decision, but it was her only one. For the filming spot, she chose an abandoned high school 50 miles from the production company she worked for. She hired a team mostly consisting of her old friends, many of which had never run a TV show before. There they worked in isolation, because none of their bosses wanted to bother traveling that far to make sure things were running smoothly. Then she took on as many roles as she could, trying desperately to control every aspect of the series' production while dozens of egos clashed with her own daily. Then the drug dealers showed up.

The initial episodes were praised by critics, but the quality started going down, and nobody outside the Square Pegs Compound quite knew why -- it was because all the writers were constantly high on cocaine and nobody breathed a word out of fear they'd lose their jobs. I only have access to one recording of an episode, and I'm not sure where it lies in the order, but a lot of the jokes really feel like they would only make sense if you were high:

"I've done a lot of stuff with you I didn't think was fun. Like going to four different Olivia Newton-John concerts. I hate that girl."
"But you have all her albums."
"You gave them to me." *laugh track*

By the end of the season, other shows were doing worse in the ratings than Square Pegs, and it otherwise would have survived. CBS had to can it solely because they didn't want to have to deal with the backstage drama for another year. And that's why it took until 1999 for another producer to be allowed to take a chance on a realistic, well-written, non-soapy high school series. Also, that's Sarah Jessica Parker in the glasses.

Being too tiny to wrap my head around the culture war this series initially tried to depict, I only know Family Ties for the weird noises it made: "Sit, Ubu, sit." "Sha-na-na-naaaaa." However, I do know enough to realize Mallory and Alex are not the same thing. This ad paints the show with such a broad brush, it looks flat and formulaic. They got lucky no one paid attention.

Maybe I should start a comic series based on this one Laverne and Shirley episode? ....You know, I think I will. Look for it January 2015!

The ads that were drawn or painted have aged so much better. Before Photoshop, compositing was painful.

I love how this could basically represent ANY show from this time period.
Of course, if you recognize Hasselhoff, you know what it really is.

Now THIS is an ad! Tell me you wouldn't want to watch a show about a talking Feenymobile after seeing this.

As you can see, NBC did something quirky with Knight Rider: they billed the two-hour pilot as a "movie," then came back less than a week later and said, "THE HIT MOVIE IS NOW A SERIES!!" Fastest adaption ever; within the same TV Guide issue even.

Every so often I'll hear someone wants to remake The Odd Couple. I had no idea they were trying as early as '82. "They're black now; it's just different enough to be a new show, right?" Needless to say, it's another member of the bombers.

Did it happen twice?

Star of the Family was also one of those rare 1982 bombs. The premise was "Life with Lorde," basically.
Note that the word "Douggie" seems tacked-on in the first ad. Wonder what his name originally was. WE'LL NEVER KNOW.

HAHAHAHA, I love typos!

....Wait, silicone breast implants hadn't been invented yet, so there is no joke. Oh well.

For many many years Portland had a local program called "Town Hall" where concerned citizens gathered on a soundstage and discussed controversial issues. The show disappeared sometime around the late 90's, at the point where the city became so overrun with hippies and hipsters that no one cared about any issue at all. This is the ad for one of Town Hall's most legendary episodes, where they broadcast live from the Rajneeshee cult commune, with chaotic (and entertaining) results.

The answer is "no" to both questions.

Speaking of video games, you'll never believe me, but back when games were brand-new, TV Guide used to periodically devote entire issues to reviews of them.

Since this is the Fall 1982 issue, the one thing everybody is wondering is what the mag had to say about ET. They did review it, and while no game in the issue is trashed outright, they coyly implied they didn't think much of the game. Their verdict was "Children should enjoy it," which is kind of a belittling attitude to have to kids. They added, "Adults may want to wait for the video game version of My Dinner With Andre." Yeah, what happened to that?

Whenever I see something like this, I groan. There's no way what's on the other side of the page is anything but a painfully unfunny, rightfully forgotten show---

---well, I think I'll shut up now.