Saturday, December 19, 2015

What was on TV December 19th through 25th, 1981

Christmastime always presented some of the best TV programming for a kid.  Let's crack the spine of this TV Guide from 1981 and see what was playing.

Liquor was a common gift at Christmas, not to mention cartons of cigarettes.  My dad wasn't a smoker, but he did get bottles of booze every year.

The art for that helicopter in the "Escape to Witch Mountain" ad is a little off.  How do the lower halves of their bodies fit in there???

Lee Marvin is looking past Linda Evans to gaze longingly at Robert Evans. Meanwhile, Horst Bucholz is about to tear the jugular out of Joe Namath with his teeth!

Frankly, Rankin-Bass were running out of ideas at this point.  In "Rudolph and Frosty", Billie Richards reprises her voice role as Rudolph as does Mickey Rooney (from "Santa Claus is Coming to Town") as Santa.  Frosty makes the leap from cartoon to stop-motion animation, but is still voiced by Jackie Vernon.

 Mr. Krueger's Christmas was a Church of Latter Day Saints production with Jimmy Stewart in the starring role.  It's not bad, but has the feel of an extended PSA.

I'm guessing the smiling head below Andy Williams is the Rose Bowl Queen? And below her is her court? Were they really known well enough back then to garner a head shot in an ad for a Bob Hope Christmas special?

Charles Grodin is Cezary Morawski as Karol Wojtoyla in "Not Without My Pope!"

Let me guess...the young landlady was suing the frat boys for $700 for the damage they incurred when they had their Toga Ragin' Kegger End of Fall Semester Party. The frat boys are countersuing for $1 million because the landlady refused their offer of free keg stands for life if she dropped the case.

Largo Woodruff looks stunned that Mickey Rooney's right arm could stretch that far to reach Dennis Quaid's left shoulder.

The "compassionate treatment" didn't extend far enough since they were still calling it "mental retardation." "Bill" was actually a pretty good film, and was received well enough it warranted a sequel, "Bill on his Own".  "Bill" was a true story based on the friendship between amateur filmmaker Barry Morrow and Bill Sackter who was committed to the Faribault State School for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic (wow!) at the age of 7.  He remained there for 44 years when he was moved to a halfway house and met Morrow who took him under his wing and eventually set him up as proprietor of his own coffeehouse called "Wild Bills".  Sadly, it was later determined Bill was not mentally disabled and had "near normal" intelligence, but had never been educated.

A Hirschfeld charicature of Pavarotti. Spot the Nina? Here's a hint. The eyebrows or the beard. It is almost always the hair, eyebrows or beard.

Parents: "Kids, guess what! We gave you each a bicycle for Christmas"
Kids:     "Where? We don't see any."
Parents: (Stifling a giggle)  "Check your stockings!"
Kids: "A pack of cards? A PACK OF CARDS? This is funny? A pun on the company name to make us think we're getting new bikes just so you can have a laugh at our expense? You inhuman monsters!"
Kids begin beating parents to a pulp.

I know The Man in the Santa Claus Suit involves a Christmas miracle if Gary "Radar" Burghoff is even dating a fashion model, let alone going to marry one.

Active sports aren't an issue with the Apollo Hair Systems. Passive sports, that's another story.

Christmas has always been celebrated on Christmas Eve in my family (a German/Lutheran custom from my maternal grandmother), so I have never seen the programming on that night.

A record that plays pictures? Slow down there Buck Rogers! That'll never work. And then you want to make it smaller, like a "compact" disc? Crazy talk.

The sad thing is, some of the programming in this parody listing looks better than what's offered on a lot of channels today.  "A Streetcar Named Desire" starring Burt Reynolds and Meredith Baxter Birney?  Just two questions: what time, what channel?

That concludes our holiday visit to 1981.  Stay tuned.


  1. Uh, that Streetcar version also has Ann B. Davis? And it is just a joke? Unfair! The public should have demanded it!

    In the listings I saw the Rich Little Christmas special on HBO. I remember enjoying that. Wonder if my age/lack of snarkiness at the time helped?

    As for the Rudolph and Frosty Christmas in July special, my son said it takes about 3 hours. He is not a fan.

    1. >And it is just a joke?
      Yeah, those listings were a parody making fun of some of the specials of the day. If they could see reality tv today...
      >Wonder if my age/lack of snarkiness at the time helped?
      I think we've become a much more bitter and snarky society. I miss the days when you could enjoy something innocent.


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