Cinematic Renderings of Broadcast Television
June 11, 2008 5:03 PM   Subscribe

Once upon a time, movies were made that parodied broadcast television, advertisements and all. I knew there weren't many, but really, this was all I could find: The Groove Tube Tunnelvision Kentucky Fried Movie UHF Amazon Women on the Moon (Links are to YouTube trailers of variable quality)

They were all made in two short periods:
1975The Groove Tube
1977Kentucky Fried Movie
1987Amazon Women on the Moon
and being composed of short segments, are easily reconstructed from youtube-posted fragments for the careless-of-©. I still remember surprisingly large parts of these. The whole reminisce came from a chance reference to Brown-25.

There were some almost-totally-below-the-radar entries (in imdb) supposedly constructed similarly, but who knows?:
1972 (or maybe 1969) Dynamite Chicken
1975 The Boob Tube
1977 The Boob Tube Strikes Again

but that seems to be all of them. A big Mad no-prize for any sensible additions to the list.

The IMDB discussion of The Groove Tube showed an interesting generational divide--if you are a member of the 1-letter gens (X or Y) you will detest these films. Otherwise, I suppose you will detest genX or genY.
posted by hexatron (53 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Don't forget The Onion Movie (2008). I hope to see my no-prize in the earliest no-mail.
posted by Joey Bagels at 5:09 PM on June 11, 2008

True story: The first time I made it to third base was thanks to the the "You are anxious to see my operation! (lift shirt)" line.

Man, they just made movies and high school drama coaches different back then.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:25 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Great post; I've never seen Groove Tube. Loved KFM and AWOTM.
posted by everichon at 5:25 PM on June 11, 2008

One of my all time favoritest movies of all time, the astonishingly prophetic, 70s-era masterpiece NETWORK, went way beyond simple parody of TV news media culture and into the realm of... well, y'all just make sure and try to see it, if you haven't yet. More and more. Brilliant. And the original trailer, 1976.

And thanks for these links, hexatron. This is a pile of movies I've heard of but I don't think I've seen a single one of 'em!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:25 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hmm..I own Kentucky Fried Movie, Amazon Women on the Moon and plan on buying UHF. I wonder what this says about me?

And, for the record, I think that Don "no soul" Simmons is the best character that David Allen Grier ever did. BB King's pledge drive commercial was totally awesome.
posted by afflatus at 5:37 PM on June 11, 2008

The best (or worst) thing about Network is that it's still as valid today as the day it was made. *sigh*
posted by pjern at 5:37 PM on June 11, 2008

I still haul out the "Long Wang, Hung Well and Enormous Genitals" line on occasion. Loved all these movies.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:40 PM on June 11, 2008

The Jewish daredevil in KFM is perhaps one of the most brilliant scenes in film, ever.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:41 PM on June 11, 2008

I admit to being a shameless cheezehead and LOVING these, especially UHF (Weird Al! Gandhi II! Spatula City! Michael Richards before Seinfeld!)

Thank you for this post. Now I have to spend the evening reliving my high school years. (In the funeral scene in Amazon Women on the Moon, the funeral director is Robert Picardo before he was HoloDoc! Yeah!!!!)
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:42 PM on June 11, 2008

Sean, I still find many occasions to say ". . . but it would be WRONG."

There was a band in my law school town called Big Jim Slade, but I never did get to see them.

Today's best equivalent of these is probably the Onion News Network.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:50 PM on June 11, 2008

Saxon Kane: I don't remember them ever mentioning the daredevil being jewish, but I agree with you. That and "fist full of yen".
posted by puke & cry at 5:51 PM on June 11, 2008

seanmpuckett--stop making a fool of yourself!
It's Long Wang, Big Dik, and Enormous Genitals.

I again ask--has anyone seen any of my also-rans? Are there others in this genre? Perhaps Bollywoodies?

Another prize for you-tube trawlers: search Firesign, and the incredibly busy Phil Proctor
posted by hexatron at 5:55 PM on June 11, 2008

Don't forget The Running Man (trailer), which featured fake commercials interspersed throughout the film, and real-life sleazy game show host Richard Dawson as fictional sleazy game-show host Damon Killian.
posted by googly at 6:02 PM on June 11, 2008

There's also Loose Shoes - which is presented as a series of movie trailers, but is still very much in line with the others mentioned in the post.
posted by jtron at 6:04 PM on June 11, 2008

Kentucky Fried Movie was the first R-rated movie I saw in the theatre (well, in those days that statement was redundant). It was heady and thrilling. I remember the shower scene and the "oil from teenagers faces" scene. I was impressionable.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:28 PM on June 11, 2008

I'm pretty sure I was considered Gen X (born 1970), and I *love* Kentucky Fried Movie and UHF.

In fact, my college roommate and I had an annoying out going message on our answering machine that said we had gone out to "Spatula City (Spatula City)!"
posted by vertigo25 at 6:32 PM on June 11, 2008

If you're going to post Running Man for the media satire content, you have to post Robocop, which has some great stuff. I can't find any clips of the actual media satire from the film, so instead of linking to the trailer, the link goes to Siskel and Ebert's video review.
posted by autodidact at 6:33 PM on June 11, 2008

Today's best equivalent of these is probably the Onion News Network.
Countess Elena, I just happened upon the Onion News Network today (was a devotee of the website print version). I couldn't believe they put out this and this.

I applaud it, mind you. I think. Honestly, I'm the most cynical sarcastic bastard I know and I was cringing.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:34 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Tim and Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job on Adult Swim does an excellent job parodying broadcast TV of days past ... with Weird Al in some segments, in fact.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:40 PM on June 11, 2008

I remember watching "The Groove Tube" with my friend (on betamax!) in the early 80's and both of us falling around on the floor when we both realised at the exact same moment what the little puppet talking about venereal disease actually was.

I loved "The Groove Tube" and "Kentucky Fried Movie".
posted by h00py at 6:40 PM on June 11, 2008

I'm with Countess Elena "But that would be WRONG...." is a line I find myself using on occasion. The Kentucky Fried Movie may well be one of the best movies ever made. Not that Amazon Women on the Moon is anything to sneer at, but from the first moment you knew that KFM was just plain fucked up. "The popcorn you're eating has been pissed in, film at 11"

And the bit at the end with the newscasters was just fantastic. "the strike there is what's happening in Japan.... with those Japanese...."
posted by sotonohito at 6:46 PM on June 11, 2008

(Could sworn it was "Long Wang, "Hung Lo" and "Enormous Genitals").
posted by RavinDave at 6:56 PM on June 11, 2008

RavinDave--well, as long as we know "Enormous Genitals" made you choke and sputter and wonder what that actor put on his resume...
posted by hexatron at 7:11 PM on June 11, 2008

..and the no-prize goes to Onion Videos (Countess Elena & Turtles).

By the way, if you are wondering what the polar opposite of a chick magnet is, try an old guy reading the free printed Onion News in Bryant Park at lunchtime. The least eye contact = instant deer-in-the-headlights response.

(Note--a tabloid printed Onion News is distributed free in New York City & various other burgs)
posted by hexatron at 7:24 PM on June 11, 2008

See you next Wednesday.
posted by Toekneesan at 7:28 PM on June 11, 2008

See you next Wednesday.

They broke my watch!

posted by Herodios at 8:09 PM on June 11, 2008

Can't forget about Brown 25. . . another fine product. . . from Uranus.
posted by Herodios at 8:13 PM on June 11, 2008

the astonishingly prophetic, 70s-era masterpiece NETWORK

Unfortunately, I don't think anyone born since that movie was made could make out what the fuss was about in 1975. With the exception of the on-camera murder, every other outrage in that film has occurred, or even become a commonplace on what now passes for broadcast news.
posted by Herodios at 8:20 PM on June 11, 2008

Network is, without a doubt, my favorite movie ever. My god, you have Chayefsky and Lumet at their finest, Fay Dunaway at her hottest, and some of the most prescient social commentary that has ever made it to film.

And so much great dialogue. So many great lines. So much great acting.

The boardroom scene still sends chills up my spine.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:52 PM on June 11, 2008

BTW - Herodios - the on-camera murder really did happen, and was part of the inspiration for the movie.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:55 PM on June 11, 2008

(oh wait, n/m, I know what you're talking about)
posted by Afroblanco at 8:59 PM on June 11, 2008

Also Gen X, also a fan of these and other ZAZ productions and similar goofy stuff from that era, at least when I'm in the [really not that infrequent] right mood.
posted by Songdog at 9:07 PM on June 11, 2008

So much to love in this thread...

Network is also my favorite movie of all time. Don't get me started on it's sheer unfiltered brilliance. We'll be here awhile.

So, let me just say that "Catholic School Girls in Trouble" from KFM is the true comedy highlight for me. The timing on every joke is perfect. Especially that pie on the horse's ass.
posted by Dirjy at 9:19 PM on June 11, 2008

I remember circa 1988 or so, Amazon Women on the Moon came on HBO one night, and some mystical alignment of the stars assured that a large percentage of my friends in high school were watching all at the same time. We started a phone call chain--"Turn on HBO now! It's the funniest fucking movie on! I'm gonna call [name] now!" (Yes, younguns, we had no internet and had to communicate by telephone). That movie was the talk of the school--at least amongt me and and my loser friends--for weeks.
posted by zardoz at 9:23 PM on June 11, 2008

Does Stay Tuned count? If not, it still had John Ritter and Pam Dawber, and that alone deserves mention.. somewhere!
posted by Mael Oui at 9:36 PM on June 11, 2008

I loved Stay Tuned.

Jeffrey Jones as Data? That's a big steaming mug of awesome.
posted by codswallop at 10:19 PM on June 11, 2008

Only my husband would repeat this scene of KFM in front of others. One of them happened to be black and was at the end of the table. Of course, guess what part of the conversation he only heard?


My husband some hot shot....
posted by dasheekeejones at 3:52 AM on June 12, 2008

Ok, here's an obscure short-segment film for you: Can I Do It Till I Need Glasses ?

Supposedly featuring Robin Williams, I have a memory as perhaps a 13 or 14 year old seeing this in the theater with my dad. The only thing I remember was feeling incredibly uncomfortable during some skit based on a talking vagina that chewed gum. (I'm not actually sure I remember that accurately or if it was some horrible fever-dream).

The movie was made in the 70's and then re-released to capitalize on Robin Williams' Mork and Mindy fame and I'd be surprised if it didn't set some record for customers demanding their money back for misleading advertisements.

On almighty youtube there are a few sketches including this heey-larious one about a rapist!
posted by jeremias at 3:59 AM on June 12, 2008

My husband some hot shot....

Ancient Chinese secret, huh?
posted by Spatch at 5:25 AM on June 12, 2008

(oh wait, n/m, I know what you're talking about)
Right. An on-air suicide, not a murder. I remember it well. U-matic tapes circulated. . .

Back to the topic at hand. . . What about Americathon. Does Americathon count?
posted by Herodios at 6:08 AM on June 12, 2008

My wife had an old taped-off-of-HBO copy of Groove Tube that she used to pull out of hiding and make people watch, just to see their reactions. It eventually disappeared - but she'd still like a copy on DVD, just to have it. I do remember it being pretty damn funny at times (and painful at others). Neither of us have ever seen the Kentucky Fried Movie. Perhaps now I'll have to make her watch that, just to make up for her inflicting me with Groove Tube.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:13 AM on June 12, 2008

I came to mention Stay Tuned, and was beaten to it.

Still - Stay Tuned!
posted by owtytrof at 6:37 AM on June 12, 2008

Ah, Stay Tuned. Such an underrated film these days in an era of 1000 channels and nothing on. The best thing to come out of that movie is still this image.
posted by Servo5678 at 6:39 AM on June 12, 2008

Do I get a no-prize for pointing out that it was Marvel, not Mad, that had them?
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 7:06 AM on June 12, 2008

The one thing those first three movies had in common was $10 lids of grass. Same goes for "Up in Smoke" and "Fritz the Cat."
posted by sixpack at 7:10 AM on June 12, 2008

Smiley, your no-prise -- from Stan Lee himself -- is already in the mail.

BTW, my favourite no-prise was for the reader who pointed out the panel in which Reed Richards (falling and all stretched out) had been drawn with three hands and one foot! I wish I could remember which ish that was.
posted by Herodios at 7:18 AM on June 12, 2008

"Bullshit... or Not?"

Consider, if you will, that Grindhouse (although it would never, ever be shown on broadcast TV) as also in this microgenre... "They just fucked with the wrong Mexican!"
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:00 AM on June 12, 2008

What about Mike Nesmith's Elephant Parts?
posted by assoctw at 8:32 AM on June 12, 2008

I honestly and sincerely wish that they would make Machete...

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:34 AM on June 12, 2008

posted by Kwantsar at 11:02 AM on June 12, 2008

Oh, Elephant Parts! Bee Gee's Disease! I nearly peed myself at that.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 11:49 AM on June 12, 2008

Heritage Loaf
You'll die. Maybe.
posted by Carmody'sPrize at 12:08 PM on June 12, 2008

Am I the only geezer around who remembers Putney Swope?
posted by anewc2 at 6:18 AM on June 13, 2008

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