Satellite was a luxury item and not standard when I was a kid. Well, technically it’s not standard now, but it is now affordable to the masses. The satellite of the 1980s picked up shows from all over the world and wasn’t exactly regulated the same way satellite TV is now. Satellite TV then was a HUGE satellite dish you had in your backyard that tipped over every time the wind blew. I guess some things are still the same. Friends complain that if a fly farts the dish stops working.I didn’t have a satellite dish in the backyard. Too expensive, and too hiddeous to even look at. They still are hiddeous.
Today we get over a thousand channels and pay a ridiculously high cable bill. In my house, we had a cable box. The cable box was a brown box with numbers on it, and had a wire that hooked up to the television. The cable box had a little dial that let you select which sets of channels you wanted to “click” on. Then you pressed a button and it took you to a particular station. We only had 37 stations, of which only about 25 were standard, the rest you had to order. HBO was on channel 6 here, and it came standard on every television. Now you have to pay extra for it.
Until recently, in the kitchen, we had an old fashioned black and white television with rabbit ears. We got the major stations and channel 21. Now you can’t have rabbit ears. You need a digital antenna, which is incredibly stupid and expensive after a bit.
Standard televisions would have channels 2, 4, 7,9,11, 13, and 21 when I was a child. Then as we entered the more modern age, we were given channels 2-40. Now that everything is digital they stopped giving us a whole lot of channels. We now get 2-22, 131,132,133 and NY State Senate channel. I don’t even get CNN upstairs anymore.
Larger televisions had horizontal and vertical hold buttons. These were for when you didn’t get a good reception and didn’t have (or need) rabbit ears. Sometimes if we were lucky we’d pick up UHF stations or other programming that we weren’t supposed to get. Yeah, UHF has gone the way of the dodos too.
Television programming wasn’t as it is today, not that there wasn’t controversial television then, but for the most part, there was something on every day of the week.
Children’s television wasn’t as watered down as it is today. Cartoons, for the most part, were originally meant to be viewed by adults not children. I remember Hekyl and Jekyl. People who have never really watched the cartoon call them parrots. Get it straight people-they’re magpies! I used to eat my Cocoa Puffs and watch Hekyl and Jekyl . Then there was Superfriends,Sesame Street, Pinwheel, the Smurfs, Magic Garden, Looney Toons, Merry Melodies, The Snorks, and other cool shows for the whole family. Today’s cartoons are either watered down or meant for adults to view. Saturday morning cartoons were the best. Nothing like waking up nice and early with my dog and going downstairs to watch either Lassie reruns or a whole block of cartoons.
After school I used to turn on the USA network. The USA network now is not even close to what it was then. They had the Cartoon Express which featured Yogi the Bear and Scooby Doo. Nickelodeon was much better then as well. Pinwheel, Special Delivery, Out of Control (with Dave Coulier),and You Can’t Do That On Television. They don’t even rerun these shows anymore.
Of course I was also watching shows like Kidd Video (which a friend of mine can still recite all the lyrics to theme song), and American Bandstand, Teen Dance Party (on USA), and Soul Train.
Then there were the dramas of my childhood. To this day I am still a huge fan of mysteries. So it’s no wonder every Sunday night I tuned in to Murder, She Wrote. Then there was Matlock, Kojak, McMillan and Wife, and Columbo. I didn’t really watch much British television as a kid, but today I do. I am addicted to British television. Okay, I just thought I’d throw that in.
And then there are the comedies I used to and still love in reruns: All in the Family, M*A*S*H*, Golden Girls, Empty Nest, and Charles in Charge-just to name a few.
During my childhood, game shows became a staple in my life. I’ve always been a fan of trivia and word games, so it’s no wonder Jeopardy! is still my favorite game show. Wheel of Fortune-I still watch every now and then, but it’s not the same as it was in the 80s. And if you were around at this time, you know what I am talking about. To the younger crowd-download an old episode. My family loved Card Sharks, Double Dare (not the one with Mark Summers-this one was hosted by Alex Trebek), Joker’s Wild, The Newlywed Game, and Name that Tune.
MTV and VH-1 were totally different then as well. THEY USED TO PLAY VIDEOS! I know don’t faint! When my babysitter would come over, we’d sit and watch mostly MTV It was awesome! Now it’s just a bunch shows that have nothing to do with music or popular culture. It’s just drama, drama, drama-and not the good kind that you want to sit in front of your television and watch.
MTV and VH-1 both had Comedy hours, where stand up comics could show case their talents. MTV had game shows such as Remote Control (which I wish they’d put that out on DVD! It’s a collector’s dream!). At various times, each station had played reruns of The Monkees, which sparked my love for the band.
MTV had Kurt Loder with MTV News. The one mega-difference between MTV and VH-1 was that MTV was for a younger audience and VH-1 was for more of a mellow, older audience. I rarely watched
VH-1 then. Now I watch VH-1 Classic, which plays the videos they should’ve played and then some.
These days VH-1 has gone the way of MTV It’s really sad to see the art of video become something that lacks vision and creativity, and sad to see it being replaced by shows that do not capture any part of the imagination.