The Boob Tube #55: TV Shows for Sale

It's a bit unsettling to look through television trade magazines and find our beloved shows on sale like cattle. But TV is a business, especially when shows make it to syndication and they're auctioned off to the highest bidder.  It's a topic we've covered before on Retrospace, but deserves another look...

To see Small Wonder standing side by side with Vega$, Dynasty, Fantasy Island and Charlie's Angels is more than a little troubling.

Note that all of the ads featured in this post range from 1986-1988

I can't bear to look at Toni Tennille any more... her and The Captain were the perfect couple - why'd she have to divorce him?  It's not right I tell you.

Looking forward to seeing the all-female remake of Ghostbusters coming to theaters soon.... said no one ever.

Don't remember Skyways; but the Harlequin romance style artwork is awesome.

An interesting ad for Heathcliff, M.A.S.K., Inspector Gadget and Superfriends.

Television in the late 1970s and 80s is strewn with McLean Stevenson failures; too numerous to count.

I was in love with Terry Copely back then, but We Got It Made was a really bad show.  Really bad.

Defenders of the Earth, A Ticket to the World, Hangin' In, Spiral Zone, Viddies... I don't remember any of these shows.

Ted Lange's decision to shave his moustache was a big mistake - you might say the show failed without its mojo.

I'm in - this looks freaking awesome.

One of the many shows I regularly watched in the 1980s - not because it was any good, but because it was the only thing on in a world without Netflix.

The New Leave It To Beaver was awful... yet, we watched it.... and we can never get those hours back.

The dawning of the Lifetime network, and Linda Dano is unleashed upon cable subscribers the world over.  It was a dark time.

Ugh.  The New Monkees, The New Leave It To Beaver, That's My Momma Now... their repeated attempts at bringing back old shows was an abysmal failure.

A pretty damn impressive three page advertisement for a horrible, poorly animated show.

And you wonder why I concentrate on the 1970s here at Retrospace.

Of course, TV shows aren't the only thing sold to networks; movies are also marketed to fill those weekend afternoon hours.

Check out who's on the episode featured on the bottom right: Shadow Stevens, Sarah Purcell, the girl group Expose, and the omnipresent in the 80s, Richard Simmons.

As much derision Three's Company endured from critics while it was on air, it's certainly interesting to note how successful it was for years onward as a reliable cash cow in the land of reruns.  People will still be laughing at this show in the decades to come, and those prudish, snobbish critics will (and are already) long forgotten.

Being a child of the 70s, perhaps I'm biased - but 70s cartoons were way, way better than 80s cartoons.  Am I right?

I love this.  It's interesting to see some great VHS B-movies get marketed to the mainstream.

A pre-Spongebob Nickelodeon

This makes it look like we're finally getting a real Death Race, Hunger Games or Running Man.  Alas, it's just a UK show like Treasure Hunt.   One day, though, we'll have a true 'Battle Royale' - mark my words.


  1. What was good about all of this was that it was still in the era of locally owned stations, before deregulation swept them all away in favor of Networks. When you could see 50s TV shows in the mornings and movies and locally produced children's cartoon shows in the afternoon. When you could see "Spiral Zone" at different times of the day. (I do remember this Japanese style animated show). When movie producers sold their films door to door.

  2. As someone who grew up in the '80s, this brings back a lot of memories, especially the cartoon ones. I remember getting up early enough on Saturday mornings to see test pattern bars on some stations, and some playing cartoons like Rocky and Bullwinkle, Tennessee Tuxedo, and Underdog, and watching those before the "real" Saturday morning cartoons came on.

  3. See how many of the animated logo screens from all these distributors you can remember.

    1. Remember them? I'm trying to erase the Viacom V of Doom and the Screen Gems S from Hell from my memory!

  4. The TJ Hooker art is truly horrifying.

    Small Wonder. The only reason child murder should be legal.

    Funny, I was just reading Captain & Tennille's, Toni's, and Daryl's wikipedia pages the other day. Yeah, what's up with that sudden divorce? Toni had an affair or something?

    Skyways: TV series for the Airport fans? Hmm, Kylie Minogue was in it.

    They remade Sea Hunt? Why?

    Kid Cool looks more like Kid I Wanna Punch in the Face. It's what happens when 70-year old TV guys come up with kids' shows.

    Tender Is the Night miniseries with Mary Steenburgen and Ed Asner? Sign me up!

  5. How would anyone invest in a show that promotes itself with a poster I could have done a better job designing when I was in Junior High School?
    The Captain I understand has Parkinson's or something similar.
    As for Richard Simmons, he was in the news last week as being in the grip of a controlling overlord.

  6. Skyways was an Australian TV show from the 1980s, full of bad acting and shot on videotape in overlit glory.

  7. Tried watching The New Leave it to Beaver last year, and yeah...not great. (or good) ALF, on the other hand, I still enjoyed very much.