Before we continue, I should point out that I really wasn't kidding when I said I would write 265,890 of these. I really do have every TV Guide.
Or rather, every TV Guide from 1968 until the late 1990's. It turned out my dad didn't throw away a single one, and he wanted to get rid of them all. Easy score!
Magazines have to be the easiest thing in the world to collect. Whenever I've wanted back issues of a magazine, all I've had to do is say to someone, "I'm looking for this magazine." And the person always replies, "Okay, here are three hundred of them." At least that's how it went when I was looking for National Geographic in 1997, Nintendo Power in 2002, and TV Guide in 2007. The thing about the Geographics, though, is that I originally gathered up hundreds of them for their wealth of pictures and images that were invaluable to a cartoonist. Then Google Image Search made that notion worthless. And it's a lot easier to GET Geographics than it is to give them away.
And if I ever decide I don't want the TV Guides anymore, I don't think they could go anywhere but the dump. They're all dirty and warped from being in a slightly damp and not-so-slightly-moldy basement for 30 years. They have no collector's value, but they're in fine condition for scanning and making webpages out of, and that's what counts right now.
I'm going through some of the others now, and let me tell you--some of the things coming your way are hysterical. Part 5 is going to be a lot funnier than part 4 is. But read part 4 anyway.
If you wanted to know in 1984 what life would be like under Dubya, Epcot Center did not give you a very accurate depiction. But the dome was new back then, and nobody could really prove the predictions wrong. These "future" specials are often hit-and-miss when it comes to accuracy. Shat's effort is no exception.
ROBOTS DO THE HOUSEWORK
This one....kinda came true, with the Roomba and all, but vacuuming and mopping are the current limits. There are no robot au pairs shaking our babies to death yet.
CONSUMERS SHOP, BANK, AND LEARN AT
The most accurate prediction. You're doing it right now!
TRAINS TRAVEL 200 MPH WITHOUT
I'm afraid not. And it won't happen 25 years from now either. The rail industry is going to remain the way it is until it goes bust for good.
CARS NAVIGATE BY SATELLITE
Or GPS, as we call it now....yeah, that one happened.
LASERS SAVE LIVES
Yes, surgeons use lasers now. They nailed this one too.
MOVIES TAKE ON NEW DIMENSIONS
It's not clear enough what this means. If they mean 3D movies, they had those in the 1950's and they're still nothing more than a gimmick.
TOURISTS TRAVEL INTO SPACE--
No, no, no....we were so close, but you can't trust any set of futuristic predictions that has this old chestnut in it!
Gee, what does that mean? Why did someone scrawl this with a large paintbrush over the TV listings? And how can every single channel listed there be showing an NBC program?
One week later, everyone got their answer (if they hadn't noticed that one of the grey TV listings was for "V: The Final Battle"...oops). It was May Sweeps, 1984, and everyone was pulling out their biggest guns. This was a bit of false advertising--it was the "Final Battle" just like Indiana Jones 3 was the "Last Crusade." "V: The TV Series" was already greenlighted for next season, but NBC didn't let anyone know that until this had aired, naturally.
To learn all about V, ask Uncle Travelling Matt. In the meantime, here are the ads for the other two parts, because I love the dramatic paintings these old promotions use:
Meanwhile, ABC launched one whammy of an expensive counterattack...a nineteen-million-dollar counterattack.
NBC didn't release an advance copy, or any details whatsoever, about V: The Final Battle. ABC, however, let TV Guide see everything in their miniseries well in advance, and they got the cover that week. That was a stupid move.
The cover story blasted The Last Days of Pompeii, calling it as much of an "incalcuable disaster" as Mt. Vesuvius itself. No punches were pulled--the actors, writers and plot were all fed to lions in this issue. They even got a quote from the scriptwriter where he admitted the original book the miniseries was based on was "a dreadful novel." He was just working with what they gave him.
As for CBS, they were just being CBS.
Though the TV premiere of a funktified black remake of Wizard of Oz was still better than Pompeii, it wasn't as well-promoted.
The final Happy Days was also in May of '84. Fonzie had jumped over that shark seasons ago, but the last episode of one of the most popular and spinoff-fertile sitcoms ever made was still a big deal.
Fantasy Island, however, got no fond farewells at all. Poor lonely Villechaise.
If that's what he looks like, then yes, I believe it.
NBC ran five weeks of print ads for this failed sitcom about a bunch of people working as the production crew for a Saturday Morning cartoon called "Dippy Duck," and Skip is making a weird face in every single one of them. He kind of looks familiar, though, doesn't he?
Wait a minute....THAT'S JIM CARREY! Fancy meeting you here!
It was 1990, I was at my grandparents' place, and it was a lazy summer afternoon with me and Grandpa just lying in the living room watching whatever was on TV. KPTV 12 showed a lot of obscure and weird movies back then, and this time they had their strangest ever.
There was a man and a woman standing over a superimposed animated disco light floor suspended in space. They sang a song together, and then the man disappeared for no explained reason. Then the woman sang a song about how much she missed him, and a booming voice said something to the effect of "Oh, all right" and the man reappeared. Then a bunch of people gathered in a large room and started dancing while somebody unseen sang "Anna-Two, Anna-Two."
I asked my grandpa "What the heck is this?" He had no idea.
Many years later, I found out "Anna-Two" was actually Xanadu, regarded as one of the worst films of the 1980's. Olivia Newton-John played the roller-skating daughter of Zeus, who opened a flying roller discotheque in space. 1980 was the last year disco enjoyed any popularity, so this weird film was dated as soon as it appeared.
Here's another case of history repeating itself. CBS's Jericho was recently rescued from near-death in the exact same manner that CBS's Cagney and Lacey was decades ago. Cagney and Lacey was about two very unsexy female cops who had problems that didn't resolve themselves in 60 minutes or less. And if you've looked at the previous three parts, then you know...that's so not 1980's.
Unsurprisingly, it didn't do well--until the very end of its first season, when thousands of fans suddenly popped out of nowhere upon news of the cancellation and demanded the show be saved. The show came back with an additional 7 episodes in 1984, and this time it had the ratings to stay on until 1988. Now Jericho's been given a midseason 7-episode deal, so history may repeat...
Throughout their run, "Siskel & Ebert" didn't get many ads in TV Guide. But this was an exception, because they hadn't been given an advance screening of just any movie. Out of all the "Siskel & Ebert" film cans gathering dust in some underground warehouse, this is one of the more historically intriguing episodes. Did they warn people or not?
On the subject of movies, there are some great ads in the Guide from this time period....
What a feeling!
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