Thursday, October 20, 2005

Retrobsession: TV Guide Promo Ads

If TV had a year book, you know, to sort of look back and see how optimistic and ridiculous it was as a sophomore, TV Guide would be it. All you have to do is pick up a vintage copy of TV Guide and flip through the scheduled programming section to see how technicolorfully happy we all were back in the 80's...even if you only see it in black and white.
So yeah, today I am reminiscing about one of those little fringe pop culture mainstays that help make up the greater good of my childhood in the 80's...the TV Guide Promo Ad. As trivial as it sounds, those little black and white squares always jolt me with 1,000 volts of memories.
I remember as a kid only getting the grocery store paper's supplemental for the weekly programming. It was big and bulky and it easily rubbed off onto your fingers. Besides that, its big stupid grid wasn't much fun to look at. It was like math...blech! But every so often we made a trip to see my Grandparents and one of the great reading materials that would be laying inside my Grandma's crochet stand would be the TV Guide. Grandparents were great for things like that; they had the good candy and TV Guide!

Bea, Bea everywhere! The "Golden" age of TV courtesy TV Guide. With Thelma layin' down the law over on 227, Sherman Helmsley is right there to set everything straight on Amen! Even though Bea looks sassy, this is an ad from the last season of the Golden Girls.

I can remember taking the old TV Guides that my Grandpa had lying around and finding all of these treasures from my favorite shows and clipping them out and taping them up in my room. I must have had the Facts of Life: Down Under promo taped to my bookshelf long after the series was canceled. It is odd that even back in, say in 1986, that finding a TV Guide from 1983 still served as a powerful nostalgic trip through time.

I like the tag line of "Ver-r-y Interesting" for this channel. I can remember the lame local promos back in Missouri for the St. Louis stations were "Catch It!" Kind of retarded but I appreciate the fun innocence of it all now. I don't remember this episode of The Facts of Life but it must have been right before the girls started the cool kitsch store and George Clooney and Mackenzie Astin started annoying me.

Since television is the genesis of most pop culture, it is interesting to see in only about 3 years time how much our likes and dislikes change just by looking at these TV ads. I can remember in 1989 (we had finally started purchasing TV Guide at the grocery store) that one of the new shows in the fall lineup was called Family Matters. Of course I thought, "What the heck is this?" You see this promo with people you don't recognize and you immediately start making assumptions on the show based on the wacky poses or start reading into the relationship of all the characters based on how they are placed in the photo shoot. Mind you, this was long before I ever read Entertainment Weekly or any other magazine which would review shows ahead of time. Back then, TV Guide was the bible and you just looked at the promos and went with what felt right...or was on before L.A. Law, either way. Flash forward about eight years and you pick up TV Guide and see a TV Guide ad telling you that Laura finally falls in love with Urkel! By now you feel like you know the Winslow's and their story needs no explanation, you have grown up with them. So each week, their part of the ad gets smaller and more familiar until someday, you flip through an old copy of TV Guide and say "I remember when that was new!" or "I remember when no one knew that would happen!"

Ummm, as I was saying... remember when no one knew that would happen?!

I always like how the TV Guide ads would more or less be the same every week once a show really got hot. It gave you a sense of comfort and was a nod to the fact that you were "in" enough to understand what was going on. I haven't picked up a TV Guide in about 10 years but I am sure that most of the Romantic/Comedy/Drama/Law Television show ads, if they exist, look just like the old Moonlighting ads. If they don't they should. Moonlighting pretty much gave us every single show that has come along on either cable (Sex in the City) or the regular boob tube (LOST and Desperate Housewives).

Maddie, choose David!!!!

David dammit....David!

Live Aid, Hands Across America, The Jacksons Victory Tour, "V", Who Shot J.R.?, The Saturday Morning Cartoon lineup...

So many great things have graced the pages of TV Guide in the form of a promo Ad and virtually nowhere else! These now brittle yellowing reminders of how great life was for me in the 80's live on only in my mind as I have no energy to start a damn TV Guide collection but undoubtedly, they shaped the way I saw the world that emanated from the electrodes of my mom and dad's behemoth TV.

Without these ads, the world may never know of the existence of long lost greats such as: Tales of the Gold Monkey, Misfits of Science, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, Finders Keepers, I Married Dora, Turbo Teen, Townies or Manimal! For that TV Guide, I am forever grateful!

1 comment:

Brian said...

OH MY God! You included "V"! I LOVED THAT SHOW IN THE 4th and 5th grade! I recently saw it at Borders on DVD. Thanks for reminding me that I need to buy it! I also enjoyed that you mentioned, "Manimal." All I really remember is that the guy was kind of hot and I loved it when he morphed into a black panther.