TV Illustrated
August 15, 2016 4:12 PM   Subscribe

In the days before widespread cable TV with electronic menus, people relied on print guides to know what to watch and when to watch it. The regional New York paper Newsday had its resident staff artist Gary Viskupic provide illustrations for the movies, specials, and day-to-day programs. Nostalgia blog don't parade on my rain has a collection of scans showing Viskupic's trippy, macabre line art, giving a certain amount of panache to the rather pedestrian world of TV Scheduling. Part 1 (including: Kubrick's 2001, NBC Reports: But is this Progress?, Hellstrom Chronicle) and Part 2 (including: Rosemary's Baby, The Marx Bro's Coconauts, Bunny of the Year Pageant).

The same blog has a selectively scanned collection of News Day's TV guide over the course of a month in 1972. With period piece reviews, features, schedules, and advertisements: The author also runs a blog that collects the one-line, snarky, not very descriptive "reviews" for programming provided by the Newsday staff writers. As an e.g., "Bengazi (1955) [from a 4:15 am listing] 'Go to sleep,'" and "Curucu, Beast of the Amazon (1956) 'Something is killing the natives. It is rumored they died laughing,'" and "Looking for Danger (1957) 'And a script.'
posted by codacorolla (31 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow, great work. He's got that Polish movie poster vibe.

(Also: Jack Palance played Dracula?)
posted by Countess Elena at 4:20 PM on August 15, 2016


damn these are awesome

you really have to admire how, confronted with a Playboy bunny beauty pageant show, the dude invents a lagosphinx
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:22 PM on August 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


Your first sentence makes me feel old.
posted by samhyland at 4:22 PM on August 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh word, Melba Toliver.
posted by dr_dank at 4:50 PM on August 15, 2016


Jesus, this gave me one of those rush-of-nostalgia moments. Growing up as a nerdy kid in 1970s/1980s Arkansas who watched a lot of TV, I would regularly read the printed TV schedules that would come out every week. The one that was local to our town would hide a cricket (I think) on one page, and everyone who found it and wrote in would be entered into some kind of drawing. I don't remember after all these time what the prize was, but I remember looking for that damned cricket every single week.

I haven't thought about that in years.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:56 PM on August 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Any dreams I remember anymore involve these movies on TV. Usually there's an island, and a lagoon, and a reporter, and Martin Landau, the Carpenters, someone's lips don't match their words, the soundtrack skips, the young people in tight vertical stripes run through a brown field and a cliff, and I wake up! Thanks for the post.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:59 PM on August 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


As a kid, I would beg my mother to buy TV Guide, or I would go shopping with her to make sure she bought it. First I would read the articles about upcoming programs. Then I would go through every day's listing and see what movies would be on. Then I would go through all the talk shows and see who would be on. Then I would check the plot summaries of my favorite shows. It's strange to think that I used to obsess about things prior to seeing them and now I obsess over online recaps and commentary afterwards.
posted by acrasis at 5:04 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is a great post!
posted by lalex at 5:16 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Holy crud, some of these are close enough to Jack Chick's style to give me bad flashbacks.

Oddly enough, I do remember having a mad crush on Jack Palance as Dracula, though.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:24 PM on August 15, 2016


TIL that Mickey Rooney, Greg Evigan and Paul Shaffer headlined a 1977 sitcom*.

It was a weird time, man.



*That said, I reckon that blocking and lighting a scene with the 5'2" Rooney, the 5'5" Shaffer and the 6'3" Evigan must have been a blast.

posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:29 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I reckon that blocking and lighting a scene with the 5'2" Rooney, the 5'5" Shaffer and the 6'3" Evigan must have been a blast

Two-level stage, and keep Paul behind the piano?

Those one line movie reviews are comedy gold.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:35 PM on August 15, 2016


And remember at the time, Evigan was best known for co-starring with a chimpanzee.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:38 PM on August 15, 2016


Oh,... I'm having flashbacks!
posted by cleroy at 5:47 PM on August 15, 2016


We didn't get any art with ours, that I remember, but the TV guide section of the newspaper would be carefully removed, folded in half, programs of interest would be marked in pencil (later highlighter), and the paper was kept on the floor leaning against the right-hand-side of my mother's recliner all week. If you wanted to know what was on, she would pass it to you, and you were expected to hand it back when you were done, or put it back there if you got it out yourself.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:54 PM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


If you wanted to know what was on, she would pass it to you, and you were expected to hand it back when you were done, or put it back there if you got it out yourself.

In my house, heaven help you if it wasn't sitting on the coffee table where you found it.

*sobs*
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:39 PM on August 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Hellstrom Chronicle

WAIT hold up, what the shit, there is a TV version of Hellstrom's Hive?
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 6:46 PM on August 15, 2016


WITH SUZANNE PLESHETTE?!

I need to sit down
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 6:47 PM on August 15, 2016


"The film provided the inspiration for Frank Herbert's science fiction novel Hellstrom's Hive."

mind_blown.gif
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 6:49 PM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Boston had Clif Garboden's Hot Dots in the Phoenix. Most of his entries were played straight, but every week, you knew you'd get something interesting. Take this weeklong skewering of the local PBS station's annual pledge auction.
posted by adamg at 7:10 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is it totally off base that I think a modern fake TV Guide zine with the same sort of lo-fi black and white line art, and clever writing about modern programs would actually be a pretty cool thing?
posted by codacorolla at 7:27 PM on August 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


This is another one of those posts where I learn that a throwaway gag from a Simpsons episode was not just a non-sequiter, as it had seemed to my Australian ears.
posted by MarchHare at 7:56 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Hellstrom Chronicle is straight dynamite, see it if you get a chance! The documentary insect footage holds up very well, and the narration is such a portentious, overwritten, 70's kind of mess that you can't help but love it.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 8:24 PM on August 15, 2016


the TV guide section of the newspaper would be carefully removed, folded in half, programs of interest would be marked in pencil (later highlighter), and the paper was kept on the floor leaning against the right-hand-side of my mother's recliner all week

My father STILL does this, but he also programs his DVR to record the programs of interest. Then when you visit he goes through the last few weeks' worth of highlighted TV guide sections to tell you what he's recorded recently.

Newspapers are still publishing these TV guide selections and highlights, but they have really cut down. When I was an engineering intern at Detroit Radio Information Service back in the early 2000s (radio station that read newspapers/etc over the air for the blind) sometimes I would get to sub as a reader. It is super hard to read those 1-line reviews aloud and not crack up!
posted by holyrood at 8:29 PM on August 15, 2016


I love this.
posted by Young Kullervo at 8:49 PM on August 15, 2016


oh hey it's the motherfucking Corinthian that's cool i wasn't sleeping tonight anyway
posted by curious nu at 9:06 PM on August 15, 2016


I can't imagine any movie that would be shown on TV could come close to the sublime freakiness of Hellstrom's Hive, which includes such wonders as amputated-but-still-living human pelvises used to breed children for the hive and a woman who possesses an aphrodisiac so strong that she literally fucks a guy to death. Naturally, I got ahold of this gem just a year or two before puberty.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:15 AM on August 16, 2016


Jack Palance played Dracula?

It seems like a lot of people think Jack Palance went straight from Shane and other traditional westerns to City Slickers and one-armed push-ups on The Tonight Show, but Jack Palance was the Michael Caine of the 1960s and 70s. By which I mean, I don't think he said no to a single job offer. In addition to Hollywood TV and films, he also appeared in film productions based in UK, France, Germany, and Italy (at the least -- Spain, maybe? And there might've be some Eastern European or Asian film productions I've forgotten).

In consequence this 'cowboy star' ended up playing Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Attila the Hun, Long John Silver, Fidel Castro, 'Devil Anse' Hatfield (a leader of the Hatfield faction in the Hatfield/McCoy feuds) a catholic priest running a BSDM dungeon (a completely O-O-T performance from de Sade's Justine), an Austrian general fighting Napoleon, a Lombardii chief (during the Roman Empire), a Roman gladiator, a Mongol chief, an Iberian prince (during the Punic Wars), and ex-Nazi 'doctor', a murderous rare book collector (in a horror anthology similar to Dr. Terror's House of PancakesHorror), and the Jabberwock from Alice Through The Looking Glass -- and those are just the films I've seen.

That Jekyll and Hyde Teevy movie was a thing to see. It was one of those productions that are filmed live nearly in real-time as if on a theatrical stage; Palance made the transition from kindly Dr. Jekyll to sadistic Mr. Hyde in real time using only his voice, posture, and amazingly, his facial muscles. Scary.

 
posted by Herodios at 8:18 AM on August 16, 2016


I love hearing everyone else's stories about poring over the TV Guide and the newspaper TV section. We did the same thing, but with one more step to the ritual. My sister and I would pool our allowances to buy two copies of the TV Guide Fall Preview Issue. One was for reading over and over and marking up until it worn out, and the other was for keeping in good condition next to the others on the bookshelf in the family room. They've long been lost to wet basement storage and the shuffle of moving house; it would be fun to be able to look at them again after reading this post and blog.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:45 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Mickey Rooney

He was the number one starrrr in the world. You hear me? Bam! The world!

Palance made the transition from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde . . . using only his facial muscles

Speaking of Jack Palance's face, here's calypsonian Mighty Sparrow's take:

Jack Palance
Believe me, Caroline and Josephine making more than fifty
And I'm sure, without any doubt, they could be my Granny
Still they walking 'bout at night with dey face like Jack Palance
Go to France! Move! Step aside and give your daughters a chance.
I looking for youth not experience!
posted by Herodios at 8:53 AM on August 16, 2016


Jack Palance was also the host of Ripley's Believe It or Not on TV. I remember he would hang around a set that looked like a mansion, sometimes in a smoking jacket, introducing pre-taped segments in a soft, rich voice that made Alastair Cooke sound like one of the Bowery Boys. His daughter Holly became co-host at some point. This was my first introduction to Jack as a kid; imagine my surprise when I started seeing his movies and found out that he was primarily known as a tough guy.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:53 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love hearing everyone else's stories about poring over the TV Guide

I guess if I had a TV Guide reminiscence, it'd be my grandmother back in they days of three and a half teevy channels.

Late in her life the teevy was her window on the world. Her hearing was really bad, so she favoured cop shows, westerns, monster movies -- and music shows. Anything LOUD with minimal dialogue. Born in the 19th century, she was too old to be prejudiced against rock-n-roll music, and would watch any rock-n-roll show on teevy with me.

She'd pick up the TV Guide at grocery shopping and go through the entire week (NB TV Guide was published weekly) at a sitting, marking up her viewing schedule with a red pen. I don't know why, but she always used a red pen, even to sign her name at the bank.

She would do a Humument treatment each issue, filling the listings with stars, underscores, circles, arrows, strike-outs, interrobangs, and sometimes written notes in her distinctive blocky hand. All in red pen.

I would love to see one of those marked-up mags now.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:13 AM on August 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


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