“WFH” AND BINDGE WATCHING

The above initials posted are not to be confused with the moniker “WTF”, although the two are closely related!

Within the last month, a number of buzzwords have been going around the media circles on social media, real media, fake media, and all points in return. One of those terms are “social distancing”, whose meaning roughly means “socializing while keeping your distance”. That is now the proper things to do nowadays, since keeping your distance from others would not allow one to be engaged through various results from avoiding contacting the “disease-of-the-year”, to avoiding smelling somebody’s B.O!

Another term that’s been making the grade is “work from home”, or “WFH” to be precise. That generally means one is perform their job, being as paid work of otherwise, within their home setting. This means that one isn’t making the very long commute to one’s work space to do through a job from a remote location. Now one is doing those same antics from the “comfort” and “privacy” of their home.

We internally placed parenthesis over the words comfort and privacy since many people doesn’t necessarily receive the same comfort and privacy where one lives. This is especially true if somebody is living with more that one other person, be it your kids, somebody else’s kids, family members related through blood, marriage, domestic partnership, or through legal or emotional adaption, as well as pets-domesticated or otherwise.

Yours truly has been working from where I normally hang my hat for some time. Some of my work allowed me to venture outside of my domicile to other places around town and the surrounding community. However, many of those travels have since been placed on hold for the moment. So now I have just hunkered down at my own joint while attempting to hack out these editions each and every week!

Over the previous week, I have received countless email messages from companies, trade groups, and perhaps those received through spam mail on how I can work better, smarter, or just plain work while being cooped up at home, especially if one has others living within. (See the above paragraph for the list of those that may be squatting along with you!) One of these messages came from The Broadcast Film Critics Association, the same group that brings you the the annual Critics Choice Awards program. The BFCA consists of journalists through electronic media that write and review feature films.

Since there are no movies being released at this time, let alone movie theaters being opened, they are suggesting to their fellow members to write about other topics that involved movies. One of those topics suggest to comment upon what they are watching through the many streaming services that are out there, and perhaps even write on what one is “binging” on! Although I myself isn’t necessarily bingeing on streaming movies per se, I will state what yours truly is binging on though a video device. And that binging consists of vintage television programs.

Allow me to explain in detail on what I am writing about. Not too long ago, I obtained a massive collection of videotapes from an estate who recorded television shows off the air for his personal amusement. This man had an industrial video tape machine that was generally used for commercial purposes. He started this hobby sometime in the early 1970’s, years before the first consumer VCRs came to the marketplace. (Sony started to offer their Betamax machines in 1976, while RCA and JVC marketed their VHS decks a year later!) So what I have is a collection of videotapes recorded on a format Sony developed called “U-Matic”. These consisted of cassettes that were the size and dimensions of a hard cover book where the videotape itself was 3/4” inches in width. These tapes are also referred as “3/4” tapes”, since the term U-Matic was more of a band name owned by Sony. Other companies that made videotape such as Maxell, Fuji, Scotch, and others used the generic term “3/4 inch”. But this is all besides the point.

Anyway, the collection I have consists of various programs that aired through over-the-air TV stations that existed in the Los Angeles area, as well as a few movies that aired on a regional pay-TV service on cable called The Z Channel. The date of these tapes recorded were from 1974 through 1982, mostly of programs that aired in prime time, although there are a few that aired in the middle afternoon, and a few from Sunday mornings.

The genre were linked to the person’s personal tastes in programming, and there were a number of episodes of a specific title or genre that are more common that others. Although the person who did record them is now deceased so I can’t ask him what he preferred, I was able to get an idea of what was his favorites. For starters, he did enjoy sports programs. (I have at least 12-14 hours worth of both the 1976 Winter and Summer Olympics alone!) He also enjoyed news programs, animation, comedy shows, as well as TV commercials(!!) There was no other rhyme or reason to what he recorded off the air or why. However, they all exist! And since I have the downtime, I am going through these tapes.

So the question remains. What am I currently bingeing on? I will present a few of the shows I have been looking at, some for the first time since they aired and a few that I remember watching! I will just list the programs that hold a common bond based on title or genre. So here is my top three types of TV that make up my private binge list:

1)- Variety shows that feature professional dancers. In the 1970’s, the three TV networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC, programed a lot of these one-time only programs called “specials” that starred a celebrity name of some kind. It was more of the musical variety type where there was a lot of musical reviews, perhaps some vocalists, with doses of comedy added. If was just the kind of entertainment that was very light and breezy, and would be aired for the most part for one and only time. Sometimes if the show was worthy enough, such as winning a lot of Emmys or some other kinds of achievement, it would be repeated again. But for the most part, its first time on the air would be its last.

I was turning in to a number of the specials that featured dancer Mitzi Gainer that CBS aired in the middle 1970’s. All of those specials featured comedy skits with Mitzi and her ‘special guest stars’ as written by Jerry Meyer, a good friend of ALO-L. I also looked at other specials featuring Ben Vereen and Gene Kelly! (Both from CBS c.1978) For a good hour’s time including the commercials, I viewed these hoofers singing and dancing their way to happiness!

2)- The International Animation Festival. This was a series created by PBS affiliate KQED-San Francisco and consisted of a series of half hour episode that aired during the 1975 and 1976 seasons through regional PBS affiliates that featured short animation films made by animation sources from around the globe. The series was hosted by Jean Marsh, a British actress that previous appeared on other programs ranging from Dr. Who to Upstairs Downstairs. Each episode consisting of her introducing these short animation pieces from sources from the eastern block (Czechoslovakia, Soviet Union, etc.), Europe, and North America. I have seen animation shorts made by such creators as John and Faith Hubley, Norman McLaren, and others. The animation ranged from traditional cell animation, stop motion animation, as well as a few pieces that were computer generated. For those that are animation buffs, it’s great stuff!

3)- The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder. Between 1973 through 1981, NBC aired this talk show right after The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson as part of NBC’s trilogy of shows that consisted of The Today Show in the mornings, The Tonight Show in the late evening, and The Tomorrow Show in the late night/early morning hours.

The program was hosted by Tom Snyder, a TV personality that was active since the middle 1950’s, starting from his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and moving around to Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and back to Los Angeles where he got the spot to host a talk program on a nationwide scale. Unlike the other talk shows that on the air at the time hosted by Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, and even Dinah Shore that were of the light and fluffy variety, Tom Snyder’s guest ran the gambit discussing at times topics that were more of an series and even of an adult nature. (It was Snyder’s show where I heard about such topics as trangenders and the homosexual/gay lifestyle for the very first time!)

Tom did lighten up at times with interviewing comedians from George Carlin to Soupy Sales! He also interviewed politicians such as California Governor Jerry Brown c. 1977. He had writers from Joseph Wambaugh to Ray Bradburry. There were topics dealing with social issues such as the death penalty in the wake of the execution of Gary Gilmore in 1977. He had fellow TV journalists such as John Cameron Swayze, Howard Cosell, and Eric Sevareid. And there were those in show business he chatted with from Bette Davis to those involved in the growing porno industry of the 1970s!

What make The Tomorrow Show interesting to me was this series was one of my favorite shows when I was in my teen years. I would watch this program whenever they has a guest that was appealing to me,, and if I was able to stay up late Monday through Thursdays from midnight and 1:00 AM central time. (On Friday nights, NBC aired The Midnight Special that was more on rock music!) I had no problems when I tuned in during the summer months as I was off from school. But between September through June, I had to be in bed by midnight so I could get up early the next morning as I had to be at school by 8:30 AM. Sometimes if my mom caught me up watching Tom and his guests, she would yell at my closed bedroom door, “What are you doing up on a school night?” as I would watch while setting at my student desk where my Sony portable 14” black and white TV set would be seated on. Now at the present time, since there is no school to go to, I can stay up as late as I damn please watching these episodes on my current TV set–a Sony 26” studio CRT monitor!

If anyone desires to take part is viewing these programs mentioned in this article, send me a message through our email address. When this whole social distancing thing finally blows itself out, I could arrange to host a TV watching party at my joint. (It’s BYOB gang!!) This way, we all can celebrate our freedom back by tuning in to the TV shows that they just don’t make like they used to anymore! (This invite is subject to change!)

So until that moment arrives, (and as Tom would say when he ended his show for the evening), “Gooood night everybody!”
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

As of this moment, there are no plays or movies to review at this time. However, when things get back to its normal, we will once again provide the best in theater and feature films as posted in this very space!

Stay tuned!
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