The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
The Television Time Machine
The Television Time Machine is set for 
Monday, June 25, 1984 . . .

Monday -- Blue, Manic or otherwise -- is not very many people's favorite day. After a hard stint at the office, or a long day doing chores around the house, there isn't much energy left for anything but plopping down in front of the boob tube. Hopefully, there's something on TV interesting enough to distract you from the inescapable fact that four more days separate you from the weekend. Let's see if that is indeed the case tonight...
7:30 PM (EST) -- Lindsay Bloom of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer and the U.S. Coast Guard are the subject matter on the syndicated PM Magazine. (Unfortunately for the Coast Guard, they are not in the same segment as Miss Bloom.) Meanwhile, Sylvester Stallone talks about working with Dolly Parton on Entertainment Tonight. (They starred in a film together -- surely you remember!*) Solid Gold Hits is available on some stations; this episode features Yarbrough & Peoples, Air Supply and The Go-Gos.
8 PM -- In a repeat episode of Scarecrow & Mrs. King (CBS), a brain control specialist tries to program Lee Stetson (Bruce Boxleitner) to kill his boss. Henry Darrow guest stars. Over on NBC, a repeat of TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes, Scott Baio is the victim of a practical joke, Robert Klein waxes eloquent about the Big Apple's night spots, and sexy foreign commercials are featured. PBS offers the documentary Power and Prejudice in America, a study of racism in American politics that focuses on 1983 local elections in Mississippi and Chicago. The cable networks offer an array of movies -- The Towering Inferno (1974) is on Cinemax, Firecreek (1968) starring Jimmy Stewart is on TBS, and Snoopy, Come Home is on Showtime. For fans of women's tennis, the finals of the Eastbourne (England) tournament is on USA.
9 PM -- Catherine Hicks, Lisa Hartman and Veronica Hamel star in Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls 1981, a made-for-TV remake of the 1967 film on CBS. Not to be outdone, NBC offers Sidney Sheldon's Rage of Angels, a repeat of a 1983 made-for-TV movie starring Jaclyn Smith and Armand Assante. On PBS there's Part 2 of Buddenbrooks on Great Performances -- a slightly higher-brow soap opera than the aforementioned.
10 PM -- With movies running on nearly all the other channels, just about the only option left to you at this hour is a PBS documentary entitled Can Anybody Hear Me?, a fascinating look at the lives of hearing-impaired actors with the National Theater of the Deaf.
Late Night -- Blue Thunder, a popular 1983 action film starring Roy Scheider and directed by John Badham, airs on HBO, while the Ridley Scott-directed masterpiece, The Duellists (1977) is available on The Movie Channel. Joan Rivers is hosting on The Tonight Show -- the guest list includes comedian David Brenner -- and Martin Mull shows up on Late Night With David Letterman in a last-gasp attempt to make your Monday a little less blue (or manic, or whatever...)
* The Stallone/Parton film was 1984's Rhinestone. Yeah, we know -- you're sorry we reminded you.

IMAGES: The Solid Gold Dancers; Scarecrow & Mrs. King.

Stay Tuned -- There's no telling where the
Television Time Machine will take us next time...

The Television Time Machine is set for 
Saturday, August 29, 1981 . . .

In television news this week: Trying to pave the way for an expansion of its nightly national news program from thirty minutes to one hour, NBC has recently petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to repeal the Prime-Time Access Rule. This rule, adopted in 1970, provided local stations with a half-hour of primetime so that the stations could air locally-produced public affairs programs. In fact, most local stations chose to air lucrative syndicated game shows and sitcoms instead. And while some of the FCC commissioners have expressed a willingness to support the petition, many local stations are vehemently opposed to NBC's bid for sixty minutes of network news, fearing loss of revenue. ABC and CBS are waiting in the wings to see how NBC fares; they also are interested in expanding their news programs. Meanwhile, The Rev. Donald Wildmon, head of the Coalition for Better Television, is making noises about another confrontation with the TV industry, saying he isn't pleased with what he's seen this summer. The Coalition had previously threatened a major boycott of advertisers if the networks didn't clean up some of the "smut" on television.
Okay, enough business. On to the entertainment...
7 PM (EST) - There seems to be a country music craze spreading across the nation -- and if you don't believe that take a look at the network offerings for this television hour. On most CBS affiliates there's an episode of Hee Haw that features Ray Charles and Slim Whitman, while on other network affiliates we note that even Lawrence Welk has caught the Nashville fever, as country classics like "Rocky Top" and "Orange Blossom Special" are the topic of tonight's episode. At least Sha Na Na have resisted the temptation on their syndicated variety program (NBC); their guest star tonight is Kim Carnes. Meanwhile, PBS rises above it all (literally) with a program on Nova about the Voyager I space probe that last year sent back some 17,000 images before passing out of the solar system, including images of Saturn's rings. USA airs the semifinals of the $100,000 Volvo Women's Cup Tennis Tournament, taped earlier today at Mahwah, NJ.
8 PM -- Jayne Meadows guest stars in an episode of Enos (CBS), in which our hero (Sonny Shroyer) stops a reckless driver who turns out to be the deputy chief's wife. Guests on the Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters variety show (NBC) include Dottie West and Jim Stafford. On some PBS affiliates, Classic Country features Ernest Tubb and Minnie Pearl. One segment of HBO's documentary So You Wanna Be A Star? follows life on the road for a country singer. Now are you convinced that it's time to take those snakeskin boots and ten gallon hats out of storage? There is an alternative: Eight is Enough (ABC) airs an episode in which Nancy (Dianne Kay) will get to star in a big ad campaign -- if she'll pose topless. (Yeah, like that'll happen!)
9 PM -- The Houston Oilers play the Dallas Cowboys in an exhibition game at Irving's Texas Stadium, in a traditional Texas preseason rivalry aired on CBS. NBC counters with The Country Western Murders (1979) starring Sonny Bono and Lee Purcell as newlyweds who take up sleuthing. This TV-movie originally aired as Murder in Music City. (Now we wonder why the name change?) ABC offers a repeat episode of Love Boat in which two friends (Lorenzo Lamas and Melissa Sue Anderson) resist the matchmaking efforts of their parents. Some PBS affiliates show a Jacques Cousteau special focusing on the devices men have used to further undersea exploration. Other PBS channels air a 3-hour special starring Roy Acuff, Porter Wagoner, Marty Robbins and Bill Monroe From The Grand Ole Opry. (This is getting ridiculous!)
10 PM -- Robert Goulet guest stars in a repeat episode of  ABC's Fantasy Island in which a doctor is experimenting on raising the dead. While over on PBS's Mystery! Alan Dobie stars as Sergeant Cribb, who thinks he may have witnessed a murder. (This, we suppose, on the off chance that there are a few people left out there who don't care for country music.)
LATE NIGHT -- HBO airs 1980's The Blues Brothers, starring Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi. (They wear hats, but not cowboy hats.) NBC is airing a repeat of the premiere episode of Saturday Night Live, which originally aired in October 1975; George Carlin hosts Andy Kaufman and Billy Preston. James Bond III stars in "The Sky Is Gray," an episode of American Short Story (PBS) that looks at the life of a black sharecropper's young son in Louisiana, circa 1940. CBS is showing the 15th Annual Victor Awards, taped June 13 in Las Vegas and honoring athletes such as George Brett, Mike Scmidt, Walter Payton, Earl Campbell, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. A few CBS affiliates have opted for Girls of Pleasure Island (1953), starring Don Taylor and Elsa Lancaster. It's about a trio of English sisters on an island with marines during World War Deuce. And NBC has the Music City News Top Country Hits of the Year special, hosted by Jim Stafford and Tanya Tucker. Yeehaw. (We'll say no more.)

IMAGES: The cast of Eight is Enough; The Blues Brothers

Stay Tuned -- There's no telling where the
TelevisionTime Machine will take us next time...

The Television Time Machine is set for 
Monday, April 28, 1986 . . .

In television news this week: Following the American military strike against Muammar Qaddafi's Libya a couple of weeks ago, reporters for CNN and the three major networks complained that they were severely hampered in their coverage of the U.S. attacks, not only by close-mouthed Army and Navy spokesmen, but also by the Libyan government. Correspondents who were in Tripoli on April 14, said they were virtual prisoners in their hotel, and resorted to hanging microphones out of windows to record the sounds of explosions in the distance. CNN's Anthony Collings and his crew were airlifted to the carrier USS America and allowed to interview pilots who participated in the raid, but they could neither photograph nor tape record the interviews. Fear of terrorist retaliation for the attack on Libya prompted NBC to cancel plans for on-location filming of Sidney Sheldon's Rage of Angels: The Story Continues, in Italy. On other fronts, ABC hired some Japanese consultants for its upcoming sitcom Gung Ho (based on the recent Michael Keaton movie), just to make sure they didn't offend anyone with their story of an American auto factory taken over by a Japanese firm. ABC's Wide World of Sports celebrated its 25th anniversary.
7 PM (EST) -- On some CBS affiliates, the syndicated Entertainment Tonight launches a week-long look at male sex symbols with a program on Elvis; future programs feature Mark Harmon (People Weekly's Sexiest Man Alive), David Lee Roth of Van Halen, and Harrison Ford. On Showtime's comedy Washingtoon, a strike by cabana boys on a Caribbean island triggers a U.S. invasion. Apparently Rambo won't be called upon to take part in the action this time, since Sylvester Stallone is on the syndicated PM Magazine, discussing the honor of having been selected the Harvard Hasty Pudding Club's Man of the Year.
8 PM -- The first of a two-parter, Arthur Hailey's Strong Medicine, is premiering on some independent channels; Hailey has shown us the inner workings of airports and hotels, and now it's the pharmaceutical industry that's under the microscope, as Sam Neill, Pamela Sue Martin (right), Patrick Duffy and Dick Van Dyke star in this adaptation of the popular novel.  Sexual discrimination and unethical behavior are the themes. (What a surprise!) Over on ABC's Hardcastle and McCormick, the bad news is that Hardcastle (Brian Keith), has been given only six months to live. (Of course, if you're not a fan of this cops-'n'-robbers series, then that's good news, isn't it?) In a repeat episode of ABC's Scarecrow and Mrs. King, the Agency handles a case involving a congressman who brings vintage French wine laced with heroin into the country. (You just can't trust politicians these days!) PBS offers a documentary entitled Pride of Place, which showcases some of America's architectural wonders -- Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal, The Arcade of Providence, R.I. (the country's oldest surviving mall), Detroit's Renaissance Center, Denver's Brown Palace Hotel and Houston's Galleria.
9 PM -- NBC proudly presents An Early Frost, a TV movie touted as the first serious treatment of the effects of the AIDS plague. It stars Aidan Quinn as a young lawyer stricken by the disease, while Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara appear as his parents in what the Washington Post hails as the "most important TV movie of the year" -- and one which, we hasten to point out, predates the Tom Hanks film Philadelphia by about nine years. It would win both an Emmy and a Peabody Award. There's another TV movie over on ABC; Divorce Wars: A Love Story, stars Tom Selleck as a hotshot divorce lawyer whose wife (Jane Curtin) sues him for divorce. PBS airs 1978's Damien on American Playhouse; it's the true story of a 19th century priest who lived among and ministered to  the inhabitants of a leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. CBS offers repeats of the highly-rated sitcom Kate & Allie, followed by Newhart at 9:30.
10 PM -- In a repeat episode of Cagney & Lacey (CBS), a busboy who nabs a mugger gets grabbed by immigration agents when he's featured on TV for his heroism -- which just goes to show there's something to be said for minding your own business! Meanwhile, HBO is showing The Hills Have Eyes II (1985), Wes Craven's (failed) attempt to repeat the success he enjoyed with the 1978 cult horror classic -- and proof positive that this sequel mania has gone too far. Cinemax is airing John Carpenter's Starman (1984), in which Jeff Bridges plays an alien who takes human form when he comes to earth; only problem is, the human form he takes happens to be that of Karen Allen's dearly departed husband. And The Movie Channel is showing 1984's Blood Simple, a chilling crime thriller starring John Getz and M. Emmet Walsh.
LATE NIGHT -- Joan Rivers is guest host on NBC's Tonight Show, Bruce Dern is the guest on Late Night with David Letterman (NBC), Gene Kelly and Richard Pryor are the interviewees on USA's Hollywood Insider.

IMAGES: Pamela Sue Martin stars in Arthur Hailey's Strong Medicine; Ben Gazzara, Gena Rowlands and Aidan Quinn in An Early Frost.

Stay Tuned -- There's no telling where the
Television Time Machine will take us next time...