TV Guide isn't much of a guide anymore. It is now the size of a regular magazine and the TV listings it was created for have been pared down to a few prime-time grids. And gone with the Guide is the lost ancient art of advertising in it. Back when it was bite-sized TV Guide had a bounty of big splash ads from the networks all over its intricate black-and-white listings pages. There's no space for this anymore.

Now there are all sorts of places to get a TV schedule from, but back when you could only know what was on from a small supermarket book, networks spent as much as possible on in-listings advertising to make sure you picked THEIR programs that night!

Direct from my packrat dad and his cluttered basement, this is a box of TV Guides from 1983 and 1984. The images I scanned for this page only come from the first two guides, and I know he's got more than stay tuned for much more in the future. We're gonna have fun...look at the very first thing I saw as I opened the very first guide:

AAAH! I thought I'd be able to do what Dad never could, but there's no way I can throw this issue out. Not with THIS in there! Though I worry sometimes that if I'm not careful, I could become my dad. This is a conversation my parents had in their married days that I'm not making up:

"Can't we throw something out? How about this?"
"No! Not that!"
"It's an empty Kleenex box. Why can't we throw out this?"
"It has a pretty flower on it, honey! Would you throw away something that has a pretty flower on it?"

Now, I feel there's an obvious difference between a flower and this. But not everyone's going to feel the same. I can see my mate of the future giving me a blank angry stare as I try to explain, "FRAGGLE ROCK! HELLO....IT'S FRAGGLE ROCK!!" Oh well, worries for another day.

"Bring 'Em Back Alive" is the title of the show dramatically displayed here, and the Frank you're supposed to be sizzling for is named "H.H." on this show, because initials that stand for nothing make you tougher. This week, he's protecting a princess, but he can't date her no matter how "sultry" she is, because according to the episode description...she's his cousin.

Dude, whah? That doesn't make sense! You can't HAVE a princess be your cousin! I doubt it was an intended part of continuity either--they just made this up for that episode because it sounded cooler. Classy show, ain't it?

"HA HA!" two criminals cackle while clutching bags of money. "THE COPS THOUGHT THEY HAD US, BUT THEY'LL NEVER CATCH US ON THESE RAGING RAPIDS!!"

Then they look around and see another canoe pursuing them.
"CURSES! IT'S THE WHITEWATER REBELS!" they yell with their fists in the air.

The men begin firing at the pursuing canoe!

"HOLD ON TIGHT, BABY!" growls the male lead, and swings around all over the stream dodging the bullets deftly.
"I'm not scared as long as I'm with YOU, Brad!" says the female, clutching him tightly.

"HA HA HA!" the bad guys laugh, then suddenly turn back around to see they are now mere inches from a huge rock!!!
The canoe hits and FLIES through the air! The Rebels' canoe hits the same rock and SOARS through the air after them!

KRUNCH! The Rebels' canoe lands back in the water unscathed. The Rebels' canoe pulls a sideways SCREEECH to come to a cool stop, but the criminals' canoe squeals out of control! "HIT THE DIRT! FORGET THE MONEY!!" they shout, and leap out of their boat right before it hits a deer and explodes!! A Charlie's Angel leaps out of the woods and dances the boogaloo in front of the explosion.

The defeated criminals are lying on the dirt, dejected as the shadows of the Whitewater Rebels creep over them. "It's over, boys," utters the male.


By the way, this and "Bring 'Em Back Alive" were on the same night on the same network.


Here's a thrilling hook--this week, Matt Houston doesn't even know what PLANET the killer is on. What'll he do NOW??

No, wait. ABC made a last-minute change to this broadcast, taking effect after the ad had been finished but before the listings were pressed:

So, they changed the killer from an alien to a cat.

....................................................................Works for me!

It's a SERIOUS movie. Really.

I swear, with every day in this week's listings, these ads top each other.

Wow!! I gotta turn on PBS right now!, wait.

Shoooooot. I hope someone was at the VCR when this was on. My dad taped a lot of PBS, and he liked the Muppets....I'll just have to hope he snagged this one.

Why did Wyatt Earp marry Marie Osmond?


What you're about to see next is amazing. Two words entered my mind when I turned the page....


Yes, that's the ad for the very first episode. The A-Team is an 80's legend, and nobody doesn't know about it, but if you look at this ad objectively, it's just as goofy as all the rest. One thing's becoming clear now: 80's network TV was very, very, very, very, very, very, VERY escapist. There was also that guy whose car talked to him.

I can hear the conversation that the repairman must have had with people every day....

Repairman: "Ma'am, your Pac-Man cartridge isn't broken. The game really is programmed that badly."
Little girl: "WAAAAAAAHHHH!!!"

"Tales of the Gold Monkey"?? Hmm. That title must have sounded more appealing to the Me Generation.


By the time I was old enough, this mess had tired itself out and the scene was full of quiet dramas and realism. I never got any of this insanity....I'm ashamed to admit that if I had to choose between Grey's Anatomy and a drama where a quick-fisted Chuck Norris clone had to save his princess cousin, I'd point the remote right at "H.H."

This must be why "Snakes on a Plane" is so popular. We were never overdosed on overcooked kitsch like the Boomers were, and we crave what we can't have.

Another exciting chapter full of Old TV Guide Ads is coming soon, but until then, enjoy this bounty of People Magazine covers:

Garfield's not a "people" though.