Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I know no one other than me is interested in these old NFL games on YouTube - I'm currently watching a Buccaneers/Falcons game from 1979, which has me questioning my own sanity - but there's a lot of cultural detritus to be found in these telecasts, especially if you're fortunate enough to find one with all the commercials intact. It's a real window into what the 1970s were really like, much moreso than, say, listening to Steely Dan's Pretzel Logic. Or into what my 1970s were like, anyway.

For instance, in the early 1970s, did you know that there were still a lot of cigar ads on TV? If you wanted to give someone White Owls for Christmas, there was an ad giving you your range of possibilities. There was even the occasional spot for pipe tobacco. You don't see that much anymore.

Even within the broadcasts, there are all sorts of great little nuggets. I've seen CBS games from consecutive weeks in 1979, and they're pimping pretty hard the "Battle of the NFL Cheerleaders," to be seen on the upcoming Saturday's CBS Sports Spectacular. I haven't seen it, but I'm assuming this battle was fought with poleaxes and maces, World of Warcraft-style.

At one point, there's a graphic showing the evening's CBS lineup, including The Jefferson's [sic], which is only slightly less embarrassing than the fact that that series was preceded by Alice, surely the worst sitcom ever produced in the free world. C'mon, guys, don't you know how to use an apostrophe? Tiffany Network, my left buttcheek.

It was much better when they promoed the Monday lineup, and erstwhile Golden Boy Paul Hornung squeals, with obvious delight, "Then it's my man, Dr. Johnny Fever! On WKRP in Cincinnati!" BOOGER!


  1. As a Phoenix native, I have to very marginally defend Alice. The worst ever? No way. First of all, everyone loves Vic Tayback, right? If nothing else, you could fill up the half hour thinking about his Star Trek episode. Plus, he was one six different Love Boats and four different Fantasy Islands, which has to be, well, a lot of those. And he must be close to a record for multiple appearances on the same show as different characters, despite being highly recognizable. Oh, and he was on James at 16! C'mon!

    Also, Linda Lavin is apparently a very talented Broadway star.

    And...well, the kid is probably not quite as bad as the kid on the Dick Van Dyke Show, right?

    I'm fairly certain that Alice is far more tolerable than Tim Allen's show, which ran for...hey, what do you know -- exactly one more episode than Alice. Mind you, I've never managed to watch more than 30 seconds of it, so I couldn't say for sure, but I'm fairly certain that it's worse. I challenge you to watch a dozen of each and compare, or else take that back!

  2. I actually saw Linda Lavin on Broadway, in "Gypsy." She was great, although the show is the best musical I've ever seen, so her performance was somewhat wind-aided. And in "Alice," she was never anything but annoying. Beth Howland was in the original Broadway cast of "Company," but that sure didn't help her on "Alice" any.

    One nice thing about watching NFL games from the early '70s is you get to see a lot of commercials with Vic Tayback.

  3. I saw Gypsy, but not with Lavin. I agree about her in Alice, and obviously Beth Howland, too. And the kid.

    But still: I noticed that you completely ducked my Alice vs. Home Improvement argument.

    And just to be clear: this is all about misguided and probably misapplied loyalty to my hometown, not about anything good about Alice.

    Anything with lots of Vic Tayback is awesome. I bet one could do a lot of great trivia questions with him if one was so inclined. E.g. he was on Bewitched, Jeannie, Love Boat, and Fantasy Island...that's got to be a fairly short list (I'm assuming Paul Lynde must be on it, but how many others?). Then there's the Star Trek/Columbo exacta...Kirk and Spock of course, and Mariette Hartley, but how many others? Or that he was on Columbo and McCloud, but not McMillan. (Or you can do McCloud and MacGuyver, but not McMillan). Died much too young: could have completed the Star Trek/T.J. Hooker/Boston Legal trifecta.

  4. I have to admit, I have not seen more then two or three entire episodes of "Home Improvement," so I'm not really qualified to comment on it. What I've seen was not good. But "Alice" was hammocked between "One Day at a Time" and "The Jeffersons" on Sunday nights when I was growing up, and still managed to stand apart from that crowd in its terribleness.

    It's interesting that civic pride would lead you to defend the show. I love "The Bob Newhart Show," but who doesn't? On the other hand, I feel no extra warmth toward "Good Times" or "Charlie and Company" or "Police Story." I guess in Phoenix, one has to take one's cultural markers wherever they lie. I suppose you like "Psycho," too.

  5. Star Trek isn't one of my obsessions, so I don't know who all appeared there. But Shatner did the ultra-rare Twilight Zone/Star Trek/Columbo killer/SNL host circuit, which is probably unmatched, unless Donald Pleasance appeared on Star Trek.

  6. Nemoy was on a SNL fairly recently, says imdb, but didn't host. I'm more of a Perry Mason than Twilight Zone fan, but I'd bet both Kirk and Spock were on both, although I'd have to look it up.

    I'd have thought that Ricardo Montalban would have hosted an SNL at some point, but I guess not, and he was too big a star to have been on Twilight Zone, anyway.

    I'm trying to remember now...Hartley was never the Columbo murderer, but did she kill anyone in either of her episodes anyway? IIRC she blackmailed Ruth Gordon (who did host SNL, so she's 2/4), but I can't remember what she did in her other one.

    It seems to me there should be others that get 3/4, but I can't think of them right now.

    Meanwhile, and not really relatedly, I was distressed to find out the other day that my (teenage) kids had never heard of Fantasy Island. Do you have any idea why the FI/Love Boat formula died? There's also the mystery version of that formula, as in Ellery Queen and then Murder She Wrote. But as far as I know they haven't even tried it recently.