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TV was a lot simpler when I was a kid, even the talking car


By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

I grew up watching TV - a lot of it.

We only had a few channels, and I took it all in. I learned to love reading by reading the TV Guide weekly magazine. From there, I graduated to more serious material like “War and Peace” and other classics.

Remember TV Guide? I looked forward to getting it every week, especially when they featured the new fall lineups. The program guide was just part of it. They ran a lot of interesting articles about TV shows and actors.

I was a watcher and a reader, so the TV Guide was a perfect fit.

I still remember the big brouhaha when NBC scheduled to air “Gone with the Wind” two consecutive nights in 1976. It was big news, especially in TV Guide. The 1939 classic was a hit on the small screen. I think NBC paid $1 million for the rights to air the film.

It earned a then-record household rating of 47.7 and a 65 share of TV viewers. (Its second-night numbers were 47.4/64, respectively.) The two-part presentation still holds the eighth and ninth positions on the list of Top 10 highest-rated prime-time programs of all time. (I looked it up.)

Before the big network debut, “Gone with the Wind” had already been shown on cable TV. But, few of us had cable TV back in those days, so it didn’t make any difference. It was still in its infant stages.

I saw the movie in Vienna in 1967 in a small neighborhood theater on the street where we used to live. It was a big deal back then also. The place was packed on Sunday afternoon. The movie was in English with German subtitles. It didn’t help me much. I was having a hard time reading German as fast as the subtitled required, and I didn’t know any English.

But I got the gist of the movie. And when I saw it again on NBC, it was a lot more enjoyable, understanding what was being said. But it was different watching it with commercial breaks.

I never gave “Gunsmoke” much of a chance, although I always liked westerns.

I don’t think I saw one episode growing up. But the other day I saw one of the earlier black and white episodes, and the cinematography was fascinating.

I now find myself watching a lot of “House Hunters,” “Love it or List it,” “Fixer Upper and “Flip or Flop” on HGTV.

The only problem with these fixer-upper shows is that, after watching them, I feel guilty that I’m not all over the house with a paintbrush and hammer and nails.

I like watching people look for new homes and objecting to every little thing that I think is not a big deal and even cool. “This kitchen needs a total upgrade,” said the potential buyer. I’m thinking, why? I like it as is, nice and old.

Does anyone still save the TV guide out of the newspaper and go through it to see what show to watch? I don’t even do it, and I like traditional stuff, old things. Heck, I still have a car with manual windows.

Talking about cars, did anyone watch “My Mother the Car?” in the 1960s? TV land came up with some “winners” back then also. It lasted one season, and only 30 episodes were made. I have seen a few of them. It starred Jerry Van Dyke, Dick’s brother, and was definitely a bottom-feeder.

What’s your favorite TV show – new or old? Send me an email to john.bulletin@gmail.com. If you said “House of Cards,” you may want to sit down before you read the big finish.

I have not seen a single episode of “House of Cards.” I know. It’s weird.