Friday, September 15, 2017

What was on TV September 12th through 18th, 1981 -- Fall Preview Issue

It's time for another Fall Preview and we're jumping back into the TV of my childhood with this issue from 1981.  I always tell people, I didn't have friends as a child, I had television.  Actually, I've never told anyone that. It's too embarrassing.

The contrast of the technological marvel that was the videotape recorder with the TV-like tuning knob functionality is offputting.

"Pregnancy finds its way into the Cunningham household on Happy Days. Richie's wife, Lori Beth, presents him with a son, Opie."  How did I miss this? Did they really name the baby "Opie"?

In the days before VCRS (at least in my household), the network debut of a theatrical release was highly anticipated and possibly none more so than "Superman the Movie".  I've mentioned before, most kids of my generation consider "Star Wars" as their pop culture moment; for me it was "Superman the Movie".  I was a big comic book nerd fan and although I was mainly a Marvel Comics reader, I was thrilled to see a somewhat serious take on a superhero. Previously, we had been offered cartoon versions of superheroes aimed at kids along with tongue-in-cheek live-action adaptions such as the 1966 Batman TV series to downright awful adaptions such as the Spider-man and Captain America TV shows. With "Superman the Movie", we not only believed a man could fly, but also discovered he could be taken seriously wandering around in public in blue and red underwear.

Contrasting my previous Fall Preview post from 1964, it's amazing how many iconic shows were introduced that year vs the completely forgettable lot we find offered here.

I've never heard of "King's Crossing", but I do recognize a pre-Terminator Linda Hamilton.

"The Powers of Matthew Star" actually did not debut in 1981 due to an unfortunate on-set accident involving the star Peter Barton.  During a scene featuring pyrotechnics, Peter fell backward onto them badly burning himself and ending up in a hospital for months.  Interestingly, even though the feature identifies the correct name of the show, the grid on page A-1 below lists it as as "The Powers of David Star".   The pilot had been shot under that title with the main character named "David" instead of "Matthew". The series debuted with the 1982 Fall season. With all that going against it, it's no surprise it only lasted one season.

Saturday morning 10:30 a.m. must have presented me quite the conundrum. "Thundarr" or "Spider-man and his Amazing Friends". I can tell you for sure Spider-man won, even though I was once again sorely disappointed with the adaption of my favorite wall-crawler.  Did he need "Amazing Friends"?  No.  And he certainly didn't need "Ms. Lion".

I never "got" Sha Na Na.  I still don't "get" Sha Na Na.  You know Jon "Bowzer" Bauman is still asked to do that pose.

"PM Magazine" was a 1/2 syndicated, 1/2 local content news features show hosted by local personalities.  Typically there were a couple syndicated pieces that were shown in all markets around the country followed by a local piece. Chuck Neff and Jann Tracey hosted the St. Louis version.  I recall enjoying the show, particularly the locally featured segments. I do recall, however, a very odd promotion they did where the two hosts auctioned off their worn shoes.  I don't recall what charity it benefited, but I know Jann's shoes sold for a lot more than Chuck's. Kinda creepy.

"That's Incredible" is probably the reason I never watched "WKRP in Cincinatti" until it was in syndication.

Entertainment Tonight?  Who are these frauds?  Where's John Tesh and Mary Hart?!

I'm pretty sure "Grizzly Attack!" wasn't a local St. Louis story on "PM Magazine".

Jean Shepherd is best known, of course, for the movie adaption of his story about Ralphie and his quest for the Red Ryder BB Gun.  I'm not sure what his St. Louis connection was.  Thanks to Youtube, I can watch and find out.

I remember those little cheap clocks rolling around in the family pencil drawer flashing 12:00 for years. They may still be there...

The thing I remember about those metal electric burner covers was if you put them on too soon after using the burner, they would get scorch marks on them and blister the paint.

I'm sorry, CBS, but you're going to have to bring more than "Kwicky Koala" and "Trollkins" if you want to Saturdazzle me.

That Sears garage door ad looks like a scene from a horror movie where a woman tries desperately to get into her garage as she's about to be rammed by a driverless car.  Maybe that's just me.

Okay, I will admit I watched "The Fall Guy".

I'll also admit to watching "Love, Sidney".  "Love Sidney" is probably the first American television show where a major character was gay and not the butt of jokes.  The odd thing is, I don't recall his character being gay.  Even odder, I would have sworn Tony Randall had "come out" in later years, but reading his Wikipedia page and interviews with his second wife, he apparently lead a completely heterosexual life. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I thought "Best of the West" was a pretty funny show. It only lasted one season. A few of the stars moved on to other series including Joel Higgins who later starred in "Silver Spoons" and Meeno Peluce who starred in "Voyagers". Tracey Walters who played "Frog" was last seen (at least by me) in the Michael Keaton "Batman" movie uttering the line "Let him go, or I'll do Gordon." True story, when I saw that scene at the theaters back in 1989, the guy in front of me whispered to his son, "That's the guy from 'Newhart' that says, 'This is my brother Daryl and my other brother Daryl'."  No, sir, that's William Sanderson.

Fortunately, "Strike Force" wasn't renewed, or we may not have had the Kindertrauma that was "Unsolved Mysteries".

And that's all for this week's TV Guide. Tune in next time.


  1. oh, Simon & Simon, how i loved you. i think i had a bit of a crush on Gerald McRaney. and waitaminnit... you never watched WKRP until it was in syndication? that's quite an unforgivable offense... MINUS 10 POINTS FROM GRIFFINDOR!

  2. >you never watched WKRP until it was in syndication?
    The lure of "That's Incredible" was too much. I may have seen a few episodes, but, yeah, never watched the whole series until syndication.

    >oh, and PS - Thundarr Forever!
    I must have switched at some point, because I was a fan as well. Lords of Light!

  3. I remember that network TV premiere of 10 garnered some controversy because it's lead-in was a Bugs Bunny special. Th-Th-Th-That's Alluring, Folks!

  4. Sha Na Na: Shouldn't the post-Watergate nostalgia craze have ended by then?

  5. Wow - Time capsules! I would have been there for a lot of this. Great stuff, thanks for sharing.

  6. @top_cat_james: Yeah, probably not the best programming decision.

    @JBsptfn: But it's 50's fun with 80's excitement!

    @Caffeinated Joe: You're welcome. More to come.


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