Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day (1976) from WLVI-TV 56 in Boston!

Sunday May 9, 1976 was Mother's Day.  With Mother's Day 2012 upon us it seemed like a nice time to show a little ad from TV Guide (the May 5-11, 1976 issue) that's appropriate for the day.  It is from WLVI-TV 56.  This independent Boston TV station used to show a ton of great movies throughout the week as part of its programming.  They had regularly scheduled movies at 8:00 every night as well as afternoon films on the weekends (4:00 PM on Saturdays, 12:00, 2:00 and 4:00 on Sundays).  Around this time they also put a lot of great-looking ads in TV Guide for these movies.  But the absolute best thing about channel 56 for a Monster Kid growing up in the Boston area in the 1970s and 1980s was its Saturday afternoon Creature Double Feature show.  Two wonderful (and frequently terrible) monster/horror/sci-fi movies would be shown at 1:00 and 2:30 every Saturday afternoon for many years.

Anyway, before I get too carried away, let's get back to the point of this post.  On Mother's Day of 1976 WLVI-TV 56 commemorated the day by showing the movie "I Remember Mama" (1948) at 1:30 in the afternoon.  Here is the special ad WLVI put into TV Guide for that presentation:

The May 5-11, 1976 issue of TV Guide also featured a number of other WLVI TV-56 movie ads in a similar style to the one above.  Since we're already talking about this issue why don't we take a look at a few of these ads.  Note that they're all from just two days: Saturday May 5th and Sunday May 6th.

Creature Double Feature ad for Saturday May 5, 1976

WLVI would frequently follow up Creature Double Feature
with a beach movie or a Doris Day one like this at 4:00
(I've also included an ad from WBZ-TV Channel 4,
mainly because it was right below the WLVI one)

Here's the 12 Noon movie that came on before the
"Mother's Day Special" at 1:30 on Sunday

And here's the 4:00 movie that followed
the "Mother's Day Special" at 4:00
(along with another WBZ-TV 4 ad)

So, Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's out there.  I hope your special day will be at least as entertaining as tuning into channel 56 in 1976 to watch "I Remember Mama" at 1:30.  Actually, I hope that it's a LOT more exciting than that must have been!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

S.O.S. Titanic (September 23, 1979)

Today (April 14th, 2012) is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. There has been so much written and on film about the 1912 tragedy that I don't think it's really necessary to go into the details of what happened that night. Instead, this post will detail TV Guides coverage of one of the many, many movies that have been released over the years about the Titanic. The most famous movie on the sinking is, of course, James Cameron's 1997 Academy Award winning blockbuster "Titanic". Among the earlier film versions a couple of the most respected ones were "Titanic" (1955) and "A Night To Remember" (1958)--which was based on Walter Lord's extensively researched and meticulously written book of the same name.

I've decided to focus here on a version that I figured would have received a lot of coverage in TV Guide. It is the film "S.O.S. Titanic" from 1979. The reason I thought there wold be a lot of material about it in TV Guide is that it was a made-for-TV movie. On a personal note, it's very possible that I saw the premiere of this movie on September 23, 1979. It was sometime around 1980 that I first discovered and became interested in the story of the Titanic. I don't know exactly how I was introduced to it, but it could have very well been this movie. I know that not long after this time I read Clive Cussler's book "Raise the Titanic" for the first time and was really hooked. And I also know that I saw "S.O.S. Titanic" when it was replayed on ABC a couple years later.

But now let's look at what was in TV Guide in reference to the debut of "S.O.S. Titanic". Here's the cover of the September 22-28, 1979 issue (the week of the premiere of the movie):

I expected a pretty big write-up in Judith Crist's "This Week's Movies" section. But apparently ABC didn't make the movie available for a preview. Because of that it only got a minor mention in the article. Here it is anyway:

TV Guide also didn't have it's usual "Close-Up" article about the movie--most likely also because of the lack of preview screenings. Here is the listing for 9:00 on Sunday, September 23, 1979 (Page A-50). The description here seems to have benefitted from some sort of a screening though--as it mentions that the movie is "salvaged" by it's "realistic sets and special effects. This would indicate that the person who wrote this had seen the movie--and felt that the acting, writing and/or directing weren't all that great, but the special effects and sets were of good quality.

While there wasn't a whole heck of a lot written about "S.O.S. Titanic" in this issue of TV Guide, ABC did spring for a very nifty ad for the movie that covered the bottom two thirds of a two-page spread on pages A-50 andA-51. Here it is:

I remember liking "S.O.S. Titanic" as a kid, but have not seen it in many years. I'd like to check it out again and see if it lives up to my hazy memory of it--or if there was a glaring reason why it didn't warrant a preview screening and why TV Guide indicated it was mainly worth seeing because of it's sets and special effects.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Reach Out And Crush Someone

It's pretty amazing just how many interesting stories and tid-bits can be found in the pages of a single issue of TV Guide. This will be the third post I've written that's based on the March 22-29, 1980 issue (after Smokey and the Bandit and More TV Guide Blurbs).

It would seem that one could almost devote an entire blog to an issue of TV Guide! After this post I'll have written three pieces about this issue and we've barely scratched the surface of it. In fact, this post really does only scratch the surface. That's because this story focuses on the cover of the magazine (or "the surface" as it were). The covers of TV Guide have always been an important part of its popularity, and just who or what was featured on the cover has a lot to do with a particular issue's value to collectors. An early Lucille Ball cover from the 1950s or 60s would fetch a lot more than, say, a cover featuring the Olsen Twins from the 1990s.

First issue of TV Guide from 1953
December 8-14, 1990 issue

Anyway, the March 22-29, 1980 cover features the cast of the show "The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo". I'm not sure what the collectibility of that issue would be (especially in the less-than-pristine condition that my copy is in), but we're actually not going to focus on the front cover. No, we're going to check out something interesting on the back cover this time. I suppose there might be some interest in what's on the back cover of certain issues of TV Guide. There used to be a lot of cigarette and beer ads there in the days before they were banned from print advertising. The Marlboro Man and the "You've come a long way baby" lady from Virginia Slims jostled for space with Budweiser and Miller Light. I'm sure some of these ads hold interest for someone out there.

But this back cover features none of that stuff. It's pretty bland as far as color ads on the back cover of a magazine go. About the only interesting thing about it is the fact that it's an ad for the Bell Telephone System, which has gone on to have many different names since 1980 (including AT&T). What caught my eye about this one was the photo on the lower half of the ad.

More specifically, the dog in the lower photo caught my eye. It's pretty obvious that the dog is lying on the ground and yawning in front of the tractor--a very tranquil and pleasant scene indeed. But, when I first took a look at the ad I kind of saw the second photo in my periphery vision while looking at the top photo. Instead of a dog lazing on a hot summer afternoon I saw a poor dog yelping in agony as it is being crushed by the guy on the tractor--who's paying more attention to his phone conversation than to where he is going (or what he might be crushing).

Photoshop out the tail and rear leg and it'd be even more convincing!

While I realize that I saw something in this ad that wasn't meant to be what I thought it looked like, I can't help but wonder if the photo was somehow set up to look like this (either intentionally or subconsciously). And when you think about it, the unintentional apparent horror in the photo actually provides a pretty good lesson for people today--more than thirty years later. There was no such thing as cell phones in 1980. A "car phone" was something big and expensive that you mostly saw in the movies. Of course today tiny cell phones are ubiquitous and no one seems to remember a time when we could actually survive without one of these things stuck to our ear (or without our fingers constantly on the little buttons). Nowadays driving while talking or texting on a cell phone is a major problem (and a major annoyance, in my opinion). The general populace doesn't tend to drive tractors much these days, but the big tractor in this photo could be looked at as a metaphor for the humongous, gas-guzzling SUV's that I'm surprised are still seen in such abundance on roads today. If only we could learn from this cautionary tale and stop texting and talking while driving (or stop talking on the kitchen phone while driving a tractor) and stop crushing poor defenseless dogs!