Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What was on TV December 12th through 18th, 1981

This will probably be the lone December issue of TV Guide for this year. I know, I've been slacking. Christmas season and all that.

Anyway, hopefully the content of this one will make up for the lack of others.  Friend John returns for an assist on the commentary.  From the fat years, as I call them, this 1981 issue includes "A Shopper's Guide to 1981'S Best Video Games" written in a font meant to induce seizures.

A snowball on your head.  It's more you.

The feature article of this issue was the new choices in gaming systems available for the 1981 Christmas Season.

Some of the systems/games mentioned in this article:

Atari Video Computer System (known to the rest of us as the 2600)

Image courtesy

Image courtesy

Entex Galaxian 2.  The graphics on this actually look pretty cool.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Milton Bradley's Microvision.

Image courtesy

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Mattel World Champion Baseball

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy

Image courtesy

Satisfaction guaranteed? Maybe to the parent looking to save a few bucks on shoes. There is no satisfaction for the kid who got these over the pair of Adidas, Nike or Converse they so desperately wanted.  Does this sound a little personal?  How I hoped the other kids would fall for the knockoff "swoop" on the side of my blue suede imposters.

The RCA VideoDisc System (also called Selectavision) played what are known as Capacitance Electronic Discs.  Contrary to common understanding, these weren't Laser Discs, but actually vinyl analog records that played through a needle similar to a phonograph record utilizing high density grooves.  The records were so sensitive to dust, they were kept in a plastic sleeve, called a caddy. When the caddy was inserted into the player, it would grab the record and the caddy could then be pulled out by the user leaving the record inside.  When done playing, the user inserted the caddy once again and the record was returned to its housing. Don't give me too much credit.  I just learned this myself.

It appears the kimono was popular in 1981, or at least Kmart was banking on it.

The issue also includes a story by Jean Shepherd, familiar to most through "A Christmas Story".  Unfortunately, it's not the Red Ryder BB Gun story, but it does contain all the characters familiar to us including Schwartz, Flick, and Miss Shields, their teacher.

Yeah. I miss you too. Of course I have your picture on my desk. Its right next to my typewriter. What? Yeah. I'm still playing the sax. I keep it in the corner along with my tennis racket, a bike wheel and a chair I use to hold my dirty clothes.

After years of begging for a slot car set, I did manage to score one around 1978 and it was a Tyco.  Tyco was kind of looked down upon by the Aurora snobs.  I also had a Tyco HO train set.

"1941" (seen at 7:30 am above) was one of those movies that was shown approximately 14 times a month on HBO. The movie you really wanted to see? One time only.

Is Carl Reiner wearing a toupee for a comedy bit or did he really wear that thing in public?

What in the hell is a Guich Koock?  Whatever it is, it persuaded The Sweathogs AND Mr. Kotter to make an appearance.

A Very Perry Christmas with Dorothy Hamill just about at the end of milking that 1976 Olympics medal. These days she can be seen plugging portable exercycles on infomercials.

Burt could have used an all star party recently to help him hang on to his movie memorabilia collection.

Nyamy Kittens look more like Monchichi knockoffs to me.

A bath toy named MacBath? How did they not rip off Shakespeare to market that? "It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signigying bathtime."

Who knew there was a Super Simon?  (Go ahead, raise your hands.  I'll wait.)

Casper, a Harvey Cartoon character, appearing on a Hanna Barbara special?  Anarchy.

"Mac-nificent" is my new favorite word.  And it can be yours as well.  Go ahead, use it every possible circumstance.  Trust me, it will be Mac-nificent.  See, that's how you do that.

First a bit part in some low-budget space opera, now playing second fiddle to Ricky Shroder? Sir Alec, The Queen would like to speak with you a moment about your title.

Not "A Kenny Rogers Special", but  "A Special Kenny Rogers".  Back when Kenny Rogers still looked like Kenny Rogers.  Ray Charles sings "Bein' Green"? As in, Kermit the Frog Bein Green?  Yep.

Christmas Specials like "Rudolph", "The Grinch" and "Frosty the Snowman" were so much better when you hadn't seen them 30 times in July while your kids watched them over and over.

"Nurse" was the first show Michael Learned did after her departure from "The Waltons".  There is something creepy about that "ok" hand superimposed next to her picture.

"Superman" was the first movie I rented when we got our VCR.  It was like magic.

Until recently, I had either forgotten or blocked out the scarring memory of Johnathan Winters on "Mork & Mindy".  Networks will often introduce a child to increase ratings on sagging shows (Cousin Oliver. I'm looking at you) but only "Mork & Mindy would add a hairy, middle-aged Jonathan Winters as a child.  Unfortunately, the writing was on the wall.

Apparently, someone should have been keeping an eye on Bill Cosby.

Neither Cheryl Tiegs nor Erin Gray, a mystery model appears in this Virginia Slims ad.

That's all for this week in television.  Tune in next time.


  1. here to defend Jonathan Winters. yes, it was a "cousin oliver" move by the network, but two things save it:

    (1) he was asked to be on the show by Robin Williams, who idolized him; and

    (2) Jonathan Winters was genuinely hilarious, and it was a ton of fun watching him make everyone try to keep a straight face when he was in character.

    1. And here I thought you would leap to Sir Alec's defense! Again, as always, I kid because I love. I'm a fan of Jonathan Winters too, but you have to admit him hatching from an egg was one of the network's silliest gags.

    2. wait - did i miss something? i will ALWAYS defend sir alec guinness!

      yeah, it was an entirely silly gag. i would probably wince watching it now.

  2. I love the vintage ads for the Christmas specials. My kids are probably sick of mentioning how you used to be able to only see things ONCE a year, LOL...

    And I also liked Winters on Mork & MIndy. As a kid, I didn't get the "how can we save the show" bit, I just thought it was wackiness as usual for the show. Winters was fun as a baby in a grown up body. Remember him calling Mindy "Shoe" and her having a hard to adjusting to being an instant mother to a kid hatched from Mork's egg.

    1. Like I said above, I honestly had forgotten about that season of M&M until recently. I do recall liking it as kid at the time, but my older brother scoffing at it and saying the show had gotten too dumb for him to watch anymore.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...