TV Guide #14: Dec. 5-11, 1981

Private Benjamin's look says it all - 1981 wasn't exactly a high point in TV history.  Gone were the days of groundbreaking Norman Lear sitcoms, insane variety shows and "jiggle TV".  Television was definitely in a lull; but Cosby and friends lurked right around the corner.

But have no fear.  If your TV lineup sucked, there was always Missile Command...

Blackstar was pretty awesome, but get a load of the rest of the morning lineup: a Laverne & Shirley cartoon, Trollkins, and Kwicky Koala!

But take note of the epic "Understanding Human Behavior".  I did five posts on the accompanying book series.  This reminds me - there's still quite a few books left.  I better get back on it!

Thundar followed by Roller Boogie on HBO; sounds like a blue ribbon Saturday morning to me.

I'd forgotten HBO wasn't a 24 hour network once upon a time.  Also, I have vivid memories of watching Pavarotti with my Italian family on this nigh, as well as the following Sagan special.

I was recently reminded of how batshit crazy Hart to Hart was listening to Will Wheaton's podcast TV Crimes.  Highly recommended.

Check out all the mom & pop video rental stores that had already popped up in 1981.  In a few years, Blockbuster would drive them under (before going broke itself).  It was a great moment in time for guys like me who liked their pop culture a bit off the beaten path.  Mom & pop video stores were a godsend.. but I could go all day.

It's the one show my parents never let me watch: Bosom Buddies.  I'm not sure why they chose that particular sitcom to dig their heels in and take a moral stand (especially considering all the other garbage I watched) but it drove me crazy.  For years, Bosom Buddies was the forbidden fruit that I was dying to taste.  When I finally did, it had long lost its luster.

[Note: You might have noticed the Stephen King article from the cover.  I'd have reprinted here, but it's just an excerpt from his book Danse Macabre.  An excellent book - I recommend it to anyone interested in the horror genre.]


  1. "The Popeye and Olive Comedy Show"? "The Tom And Jerry Comedy Show"? The Flintstones also did this "Comedy Show" business, which seems kind of silly for a cartoon to add to their title, IMO. What else where they gonna do, serious drama?

  2. I appreciated that personal note on 'Bosom Buddies'; I'm a few years older than you Gilligan and I was forbidden from watching 'All in the Family' it's first year on tv. But it didn't stop my parents from watching it, I'd sit in my bedroom & fume while hearing my dad laugh it up downstairs!

  3. Wow, a 5-Speed Diesel Chevette. And it took 7 years for Young Frankenstein to show up on network TV. But the cream of this crop has got to be Diane Lane as Conrad Bain's "Child Bride."

  4. Donna Dixon in the pilot absolutely blew my mind!
    Aside from that, I remember Bosom Buddies as really clever, fast-paced and kind-hearted.

  5. My forbidden show was a few years down the road: "Night Court." My mom would basically hang onto the remote any time Dan Fielding (John Larroquette) was onscreen. I didn't get to watch a full, uninterrupted episode of "Night Court" until I left for college.

  6. voiceofthe70sApril 08, 2016

    What's up with Jawco waterbeds? Do you really want to sleep in a bed that advertises like that?

    1. Just when it was safe to go to bed....

  7. DiscoDollyDebApril 08, 2016

    I remember watching the Patricia Neal Story with Glenda Jackson and Dirk Bogarde. It was very good, especially considering the rather grim subject matter (Neal's recovery from a massive stroke). Sadly, Dahl later divorced Neal and married his assistant (who has spent her widowhood licensing all of his books for movies and product tie-ins).

  8. Surprised that I don't remember the Oz special. I was pretty good at tracking cartoon specials, and by '81 new ones were becoming rare.

  9. I used to watch Understanding Human Behavior on Saturday afternoon on Canadian Public Television (I own a few editions of the book too) The show itself is very much like the books; weird stock footage, slightly disturbing, but with upbeat Madison avenue type narration and a very cheerful host) you cant find video of it anywhere on the net, sadly.
    Then, keeping it Canadian, go to the page for Saturday evening 7-8PM... that's DOUG HENNING! the famous Canadian "Hippy Magician"... he eventually ran for prime minister in Canada under the "Natural Law Party" their platform was to rotate the house of parliament 90 degrees to improve feng shui, and to promote world peace through yogic flying. Needless to say, he got my vote!

    dont take my word for it... look here--> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Henning

    you should check out a podcast called "TV Guidance Councilor" its right up your ally, Gilligan!

    Another great post. Keep em comin

  10. RE: Jane Wyman's O.k. sign; Her hand looks awfully big for a little lady like her. Unless that was a last minute photo editing rush job (years before Photoshop or similar software) and that is actually Cesar Romero's O.k. sign? Or is that actually Cesar Romero in a wig/dress? Either way: Bad photo editing job!

  11. I caught part of a Hart to Hart episode the other day. It was later in the series. Max was really old. The Harts were wrapping up a mystery on some stage. From that point, they decided to sing and dance together, at which point it went into Sappyland. They suddenly had on fancy song-and-dance outfits, the lighting guys were doing their thing (even though supposedly nobody was there), and musical accompaniment happened. It was the stupidest thing I've seen in a long time.

  12. What? no comments about the white elephant in the room (aka Doug Henning) ???