Thursday, September 25, 2014

Realizations: Am I Paying for My Own Summer Reruns?

With all the discussion on this Blog of TV circa 1964 of late, one specific favorite show HERE, and a general survey of the landscape HERE, I’m reminded of the long-ago let-down period of “Summer Reruns”.

While shows ARE still repeated these days, the idea of a season of “Summer Reruns” has all but vanished, in our “Give it to me NEW and give it to me NOW!” entertainment intensive age! 

There's so much to watch, we needed a BIGGER SCREEN! 

But, the period of about May, into early September was “Summer Reruns” time for the then-big three TV networks.  And, to be perfectly honest, we didn’t watch very many of them.  I probably played ball, or sumpthin’.  And, of course, read lots of comic books – as THEY only repeated when you WANTED them to! 

Indeed, as inconceivable as it sounds now, even a CANCELLED show, would usually carry on until being replaced in September, for the new fall season.  For instance, the final broadcast of LOST IN SPACE, in its cancelation year of 1968, was actually a repeat from the PREVIOUS SEASON, because each of the episodes for the current season had already been rerun twice!  Imagine that happening today! 

But, now we shift to 2014, where looms in October, the Fifth Season premiere of THE WALKING DEAD, coming on October 12th.  The folks marketing DVD season sets of THE WALKING DEAD very cleverly release those sets in AUGUST of each year.

How I spent my LAST August and September!

Why?  So that you can review each episode of such a continuity-heavy series, BEFORE the fall season premiere!   Episode by episode, I’ve been doing exactly that for the past month or so with the Fourth Season Blu-ray set – in effect, creating MY OWN “Summer Rerun” season for THE WALKING DEAD.

Only difference between now and 1964 is I paid thirty bucks to voluntarily do something I didn’t much care to do in the old days, when it was free!  …Yeah, imagine THAT, too!  

Then again, some things MUST be seen more than once!  


Dan said...

Excellent thought, Joe: surely we are paying for summer reruns these days, but in my opinion, they're worth the price.

Via DVD and Blu-ray we avoid network and cable "shenanigans" such as less-than-judicious edits for content and 2014 length commercial times. Even worse, there's the problem of sped-up titles and microscopic credit sequences to fit for time.

Reading the end credits is a lost pre-internet indulgence: which is something I imagine you, and most readers of TIAH took part in when one could visibly study the names of the folks who brought you the program you just enjoyed.

These days, most credit rolls are squeezed into 1/4 of the screen and played at lightning speed. Sure, the IMDb exists today (and is a handy tool) but there's something of a disconnect there.

In a related tangent, it was recently announced Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide will have it's final print run in 2015, due to dilution from similar (free) internet websites.

Still, I hope some of the next generation will care enough to look "behind the scenes" by any possible means, to see beyond the folks on camera.

My own summers were filled with mowing lawns, comic books and reruns, and there was always the fun of tuning in to WNEW to see the day's offering of Looney Tunes. Then crossing my fingers for favorite shorts by Bob Clampett. It was like cartoon roulette... and when the post WB target revealed a title like "Kitty Kornered" or "Book Revue" you won BIG that July afternoon!

That was part of the fun of it, but it's sure a pleasure to be able to pull a disc off my shelf and watch some nice restorations of classic film and TV (not to mention current productions with outstanding digital fidelity.)

We kids of the 60s and 70s have the advantage of knowing what patience was while we reap the benefits of a world of instant gratification! - Dan

Joe Torcivia said...

Great observations, right back at ya, Dan!

Yes, the way we get our “reruns”, “summer or otherwise”, is well worth the cost!

You and I are especially of a like mind when it comes to the credits!

During the seemingly endless syndicated rerun period of the seventies, particularly for WNEW and WPIX, the time when most of the classic shows of the sixties TRULY received their immortality by repeated showings, I soaked up this material like a sponge – becoming, in effect, my own IMDB. …And, if you cared enough, you really were able to do it, because the shows and cartoons came around so very often.

Supplement this with the gleaning of more information from the daily listings of TV GUIDE, and you could accumulate a fair (though decidedly disjointed) storehouse of knowledge.

By 1973, for instance, I had my very own handwritten episode guide to LOST IN SPACE, long before any such material appeared in books, let alone the Internet. Breakdown by season, episode titles, broadcast order, guest stars, writers, directors, plot summaries, etc. Shortly thereafter, I did the same for the original STAR TREK. Again, courtesy of WNEW and WPIX, respectively.

Also like IMDB, if you had enough available memory (and I DID, flushing-out no-longer useful things like chemistry and certain disciplines of mathematics), you could even track the different shows that favorite actors, like Malachi Throne, Warren Stevens, and Victor Lundin, appeared on – by reading and absorbing the end credits of various shows. TV GUIDE could point you toward other appearances that you might not otherwise have known about.

And, of course, you quickly learned that the best cartoons of all time were very likely written by Michael Maltese and Warren Foster!

This is what it was like to be a “fan” before the late seventies, onward. Before valued books, chock full of the information we so desperately craved, began to appear, leading us to the new golden age of 21st Century Internet reference and the undreamed-of ability to actually OWN the treasured shows and movies of our youth! As well as great modern stuff like LOST and THE WALKING DEAD!

...I can finally give my over-taxed memory cells the rest they so richly deserve!