TFTP Sports: NBC SportsWorld (1979)

"SportsWorld" was NBC's answer to ABC's "Wide World of Sports"--a diverse array of sporting events presented under the umbrella of a single series. This clip is the opening tease for a 1979 episode of "SportsWorld" that included horseracing (the Marlboro Cup), swimming (the FINA World Cup), and track (a 1500 meter race held at the Brussels World Fair).

The "SportsWorld" series ran for 14 years on NBC between 1978 and 1992, featuring, like "Wide World of Sports before (and after) it, lower-profile and sometimes offbeat sports that would never have warranted independent TV coverage. Bowling and auto racing (both of which have, at different times, had independent TV coverage on various networks) were mainstays of "SportsWorld" for many years. The "SportsWorld" name lives on for NBC in a recently-launched section of the NBC Sports website dedicated to long-form sports-related reporting.


TFTP Drama: "The Guiding Light" (Apr. 9, 1953)

Posted to Internet Archive's Classic TV Collection

"The Guiding Light" was a very long-running and venerable TV soap opera, on the air on CBS for over 55 years between 1952 and 2009 (after 15 years on radio before that). This episode, a 15-minute one following the standard soap opera length at the time, is from April 1953, the show's first year or so on TV. Although watching old episodes of TV soap operas can have a disconcerting effect--being dropped into the middle of stories for which you have no context or understanding of what happened previously--they are nonetheless fascinating to look at (perhaps for this very same reason).

The entire episode consists of only two conversations: a young man (played, incidentally, by James Lipton of "Inside the Actors' Studio" fame) talks to a doctor about getting a divorce he doesn't really want; a pregnant woman and a little boy (who seem not to be related, or to really even know each other) have an encounter. Without any context, we have no idea what the characters' story lines are, and so we are forced to concentrate to a great extent on the form: characters sitting around, at a table or in a sitting room, having conversations in which story lines are advanced by millimeters. Soaps were shot and broadcast live at this time, so we can watch them now knowing that these were like little plays in which the actors performed in real time, at the same time that they were being watched by viewers.

Soap operas are so named because they started out with soap companies as their sponsors back in the radio days, so we are not surprised to see that soap brands Ivory soap and Duz laundry detergent are the sponsors here.