Sunday, October 16, 2016

Showstoppers


I miss that time when TV shows and movies were new to me, and I couldn't wait for the prime time lineup to come out in September and the new movie ads to appear in the newspaper every Friday (and sometimes Thursday evenings!).

For me, the thrill of a television show or a movie was never more intense than in the late 1970s. We talked about the latest shows in junior high, the girls danced to the latest movies. Sitcoms were never more popular and movies never more mind-blowing. It was a fun time for the boob tube and the silver screen.

A little while ago I decided to commemorate that time by creating a single page consisting of nine different TV shows or movies that made an impact on me when I was a youngster.

I'm here to announce, with the addition of the above Mork and Mindy card, that the page is complete. I have my ninth show.

You've seen most of the cards that went into this sheet before, but I want to break them down now to explain a little of why I selected each card. Here now is some terrific programming and some of the biggest movies of all-time:


Card 1: Charlie's Angels
Card number: 109
Set created: 1977
Series run: 1976-81
What the show meant to me: Babes. They didn't call it a "Jiggle Show" for nothing. That was the appeal to a 12-year-old boy. I didn't watch much of the show because it was on too late when it first started (10 p.m.). By the time I could see it regularly, it was old news and Tanya Roberts was trying to save the ship.
Why I picked this card: God bless Kelly, Sabrina and Kris, but Jill was the reason for everything in 1977. I was convinced that Farrah Fawcett invented posters.



Card 2: Happy Days
Card number: 39
Set created: 1976
Series run: 1974-84
What the show mean to me: There had been plenty of sitcoms prior to Happy Days, but as far as I was concerned as a kid, Happy Days was the one that started it all. Happy Days was rather unusual among other sitcoms at that time because grown-ups didn't try to shield the show from us. Because Happy Days dealt with the 1950s, and all of the grown-ups at that time loved the '50s, it received the seal of approval that a show like, say, Soap, wouldn't get.
Why I picked this card: This card was actually sent to me, but it's a perfect pick. The Fonz was the coolest part of television at that time. You can't beat him. You just can't.



Card 3: The Incredible Hulk
Card number: 5
Set created: 1979
Series run: 1978-82
What the show meant to me: The TV show I watched more than any other on this page. My brothers and I loved this show: for the excitement, the campiness, the destruction. We tried to figure out when David Bruce Banner would turn into the Hulk. We knew he would transform twice during the hour-long show, but when? This show aired on Fridays at the beginning and we considered it the start of our weekend.
Why I picked this card: The show is both David Bruce Banner and The Hulk. It is the transformation. For me, this card sums up the show the best.



Card 4: Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Card number: 41
Set created: 1978
Movie in theaters: 1977 and 1978
What the movie meant to me: Close Encounters appeared during the surge in space and alien movies/shows during the late '70s. As kids, we loved Star Wars, but Close Encounters was a much cooler and "real" version of Star Wars. "What if aliens showed up in our little podunk town?" I was awestruck by this movie, and it was a favorite for a long time (it doesn't hold up all that well now, but it's not a bad movie that paved the way for much more grandiose fantasy-reality tales).
Why I picked this card: A tremendous scene from that movie. As a kid, a flying saucer hovering over something called "Devil's Tower" was all too cool.



Card 5: Three's Company
Card number: 1
Set created: 1978
Series run: 1977-84
What the show meant to me: I think I speak for many kids growing up at the time, but this was my introduction to sex talk, double entendres, the single life, apartment living, shapely women exercising, you name it. I also watched plenty of this show. Early on, it was too scandalous to dare watch with my folks in the house. Fortunately, my parents would often go out on Thursday nights and that's when Three's Company aired. I got to know Jack, Chrissie and Janet intimately.
Why I picked this card: Larry Dallas, the Ropers, Mr. Furley, and Cindy and Terri are unappreciated show gems, but the show revolves around the above trio.



Card 6: Star Wars
Card number: 3
Set created: 1977
Movie in theaters: 1977 and 1978
What the movie meant to me: It was the biggest movie ever at that time. Everyone went to see Star Wars. Then they went again. And again. It was the first movie I ever knew to appear in a theater, leave after its run, and then come back again. We loved Star Wars, talked about all the characters and collected each version of the set, until they got to the orange-bordered ones and everything was just a regurgitation of topics already covered.
Why I picked this card: Yeah, yeah, Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father. I liked the little robot with the funny noises.


Card 7: Welcome Back, Kotter
Card number: 36
Set created: 1976
Series run: 1975-79
What the show meant to me: One of the first sitcoms I ever knew. I've mentioned before that my regular baby-sitter when I was 10 years old (this was the '70s, you got babysitters for kids that age) loved Welcome Back, Kotter. She'd flip it on and just crack up at Vinny, Epstein and the rest. She got me hooked on it and I still enjoy John Sebastian's theme song.
Why I picked this card: Mr. Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) is the main character. But Horshack (Ron Palillo) was my favorite character because he was the goofy nerd who had all the funniest lines. This card is a combination of the two with Kotter saying Horshack's signature line.



Card 8: Grease
Card number: 36
Set created: 1978
Movie in theaters: 1978
What the movie meant to me: I didn't see Grease when it came out. A musical with a love story didn't appeal to a scruffy Hulk-lover like me. But every girl I knew loved it, and I remember the girls across the street playing all the songs and dancing to them.
Why I picked this card: I was tempted to nab a "Tell Me About It, Stud" card of Sandy, but I saw this night card of cheerleaders and it spoke to me.



Card 9: Mork and Mindy
Card number: 73
Set created: 1978
Series run: 1978-82
What the show meant to me: The one TV show that was talked about more than any other during the time I was in junior high. This show left everyone in hysterics (watching it now, I don't know why, but remember, we had never seen anything like Robin Williams at the time). I recall in 8th grade, our teacher wanted us to pick a new TV show and give a report on it. I don't remember who got to write about Mork and Mindy, but I was insanely jealous.
Why I picked this card: A lot of the cards in this set feature painful jokes. This one is just goofy enough to sum up the show without me wincing.

Those are the nine cards, and here is the full page:


While I was compiling this page, I debated adding more cards from many of these shows and even potentially completing some of the sets.

But I'm not going to do that. The only thing that would make me continue is if I discover cards from nine more sets/movies that made a major impact on me when I was a kid. But I doubt that nine more of those exist.

It really was fun reliving all of those shows, that time when everything on my screen was fascinating.

Today, my TV is filled with sports and that's about it. And I repeatedly scroll endlessly through Netflix in a failed quest to find an interesting movie to watch.

Neither medium contains the thrill it once did. But that's why I have the cards. To remember when it did.

10 comments:

  1. I can hear the disco music just oozing from this post.

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  2. There has to be enough good 70's shows for a second page. Off the top of my head, I remember cards were made for CHiPs, MASH, Saturday Night Fever, Dukes of Hazard, Dallas, the Brady Bunch, Superman the Movie, Kung Fu, the Six Million Dollar Man, Partridge Family, Bionic Woman, Good Times, Battlestar Gallactica, Buck Rogers, Rocky II, Jaws II......

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    1. You left out Wonder Woman, lol. I watched all of those shows and movies. Princess Ardalla should have been a sign for me that really hot women are trouble (usually).

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    2. The only ones of those that would fall under the category of "things I watched and enjoyed as a kid" would be CHiPs, Dukes of Hazzard, maybe Good Times and, surprisingly, Battlestar Gallactica. The Brady Bunch set came out in 1969, way too early for me to include it in a page.

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  3. The Incredible Hulk premiered (March 1978) within days/weeks of my favorite show ending the 6 million dollar man. It was not until the early 1990s when I saw reruns of the Fugitive when I realized the similarities. My big disappointment with the Hulk was they never created a Bad Guy that would give him a real tussle (Like Bigfoot on 6MDM). The later TV movies did have versions of Thor and Daredevil in them.

    About a few weeks earlier, I saw Star Wars first the first time, the first 15 minutes just blew me away.

    Happy Days was great for about the first 5 years (Jump the Shark), Every Year Henry Winkler would move up the opening credits.

    This post ALSO made me think of Tanya Roberts (schwing).. I just remember her having just an incredible body and looks.

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  4. I think you could pretty easily expand it out to one page for TV and one for movies....I have some of the Close Encounters cards but I've never actually seen the movie. I'm not a huge movie person. Amazingly, I've never seen an episode of Charlie's Angels either, although it is something I would probably enjoy. I've been watching Grease since I can remember, but to me it was a car movie with music in it, I guess I was just oblivious to the rest.

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  5. When Bill Bixby's eyes went all freaky, I would lose it. It freaked me out. To this day my sister still reminds me of it.

    Great collection.

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  6. Close Encounters was the first movie I bought to watch on my new VHS tape player in 1982, the first DVD I bought for that machine and the either the first or second BluRay disc I bought (I think I bought V for Vendetta for the surround sound experience first.) It and Rocky are the only movies I paid to see twice in their opening weekend. I still enjoy it.

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  7. I've still got my Daisy Duke poster rolled up somewhere. I had a handful of some of those show cards, mostly Jaclyn Smith, the UFO over DT card you showed, and some Darth Vaders. Would love to finish out the Star Wars sets now...

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  8. Nice Fonzie!! If you are into autographs any, Henry Winkler has usually been pretty good through the mail.

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