Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Television Boy


As a child, my favorite TV show was all of them. I loved me my Muppets. I loved me my A-Team. I loved me my poorly translated Japanese anime. It's not that I was indiscriminating. I just grooved on escapism. I still do. Don't you?

But if I had to choose one TV show that I absolutely had to watch, every week, it probably would have to be the" Creature Double Feature." It always ran on Saturday afternoons on UHF Channel 56 out of Massachusetts and I almost always got home in time from Saturday morning services to catch the first of that day's two sci-fi/horror flicks. Since I wasn't really into the Wide World of Sports - both on TV and outside on the street - the "Creature Double Feature" became my default Saturday afternoon treat.

The sci-fi/horror flicks which were broadcast during these Saturday afternoons were very much not appropriate for Saturday afternoon broadcasts. Some of the films I remember watching during the "Creature Double Feature" were James Whale's Frankenstein, Tod Browning's Dracula, and Roger Corman's The Raven. Yep, The Raven. With Vincent Price. At 2pm in the afternoon. For all the non-athletic kids in New England to behold, absorb, and retain.

On a school day, when I was sick, I also enjoyed VHF Channel 6's "Dialing for Dollars," which was pretty much the same concept as the "Creature Double Feature" except there was only one film (usually horror but sometimes Fletch) and occasionally, during the commercial breaks, there would be a sort of lottery drawing where viewers could win cash. I myself never dialed for dollars. But I wanted to.

As I grew up, I really began to gravitate toward the syndicated shows out of Canada (Degrassi, Friday the 13th: The Series, Highlander, Forever Knight, War of the Worlds) if only because they were just so weird. Plus they tended to share casts, so it was like watching rep in the comfort of my own bedroom. Funnily enough, the "Dialing for Dollars" concept originated in Canada, and Janis Joplin immortalized it ("Dialing for Dollars," not Canada) in her song "Mercedes Benz."

On a side note, my small TV (once I finally got my own) had a malfunctioning on/off button, so it often would click on in the middle of the night. This is how I learned about infomercials and the Star-Spangled Banner.

(Special thanks to this fantastic website for the first graphic.)

ADDENDUM A: Since today is my day to post, it also becomes my pleasure to announce that today, our own Sophie Littlefield has been nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author!!! Congratulations, Sophie!!!

ADDENDUM B: Sadly, it is also my duty to share with you this news, courtesy of our own Shane Gericke: "Robert B. Parker has just died at the age of 77. He was at his desk, writing, when he slumped over and was gone. He is, of course, the author of the immensely popular Spenser for Hire private-eye books, among so many others." Well put, Shane. Mr. Parker was a genre legend, a writer's writer, and he will be missed.

12 comments:

Shane Gericke said...

Dialing for Dollars! I didn't realize that actually existed; always thought it was made up. How cool. The Chicago version of your creature movies was "Creature Features," starring Svengoolie, a guy from the suburbs dressed up as weird-ass monster and a Count Floyd-kinda accent. Funny stuff, Josh, thanks.

Jen Forbus said...

I didn't watch scary stuff...actually I still don't. My dreams are scary enough as it is! But your post made me think of the Bill Cosby routine where he was listening to the radio show, LIGHTS OUT. I think it's called "Chicken Heart"...and he smears jello all over the floor. If you've never heard that, I highly recommend it.

Here's the second half of the routine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vPimtcK3-A&NR=1

Pamela Callow said...

That's funny you watched so many Canadian TV shows as a kid, Josh. My favourite was MacGyver. I also used to watch American afterschool TV. That's where I learned how to pronounce Calais!

Michael Wiley said...

We're not talking about Spenser for Hire, but I just saw the news: R.I.P. Robert Parker -- a man who made this kind of work possible for a lot of us.

Meredith Cole said...

I loved the Muppets, too, Josh! Darn. I forgot to mention them yesterday. I still giggle when I think about the Swedish Chef and so many of their other great characters and skits.

Joshua Corin said...

Bork bork bork bork bork bork!

Mysti Lou said...

Josh--I hear you about the maturity level of afternoon t.v. Once when I stayed home sick from school, the local t.v. station in Las Vegas played Elmer Gantry, which I now realize was probably somebody's idea of a joke. But at the time I thought "wow! I'm not old enough to watch this!" and to this day am as afraid of traveling evangalists as I am clowns ;)

Mysti Lou said...

P.S. GO SOPHIE!!!!!!!

Joshua Corin said...

Yeah, you need to especially watch out for those traveling clowns, evangelical or no...

Rebecca Cantrell said...

See, I always knew that the kids who had TV had more fun! I did manage to sneak glimpses of those shows at other people's houses, but longed to rot my brain thoroughly on hours and hours of TV as a child.

In other news: YAY, SOPHIE! A BAD DAY FOR SORRY was just nominated for an EDGAR for Best First Novel. Congratulations!!!!

Michael Wiley said...

Congratulations, Sophie!

Kelli Stanley said...

Josh, I loved "Dialing for Dollars"! Used to rush home and watch all the old '30s and '40s movies after elementary school.

Gee ... I guess I haven't changed much. ;)

The same channel (KTVU, Channel 2 in the Bay Area) played Creature Features with Bob Wilkins. I had the pleasure of knowing his successor, John Stanley (and author of many Creature Features guides) back when we owned a comic book store in the early '90s.

I remember the first time I saw Night of the Living Dead on CF ... ah, the memories! ;) Thanks, Josh!!

xoxo