TFTP Will Return After These Messages: Commercial Block from NBC (Oct. 8, 1982)

Posted to YouTube by user 'pannoni4'
Length - 7:48

Every Wednesday, TFTP takes a break from regular programming to bring you a selection of classic commercials. We will return after these messages...

This commercial block from NBC from Oct. 8, 1982, features ads for Campbells Soup, Listerine, Burger King, Pam cooking spray, Phillips 66, Zerex antifreeze, Inglenook wine, Windex glass cleaner, Wal-Mart, Stayfree pads (with gymnast Cathy Rigby), Rave hair perm kits, and Prestone auto products.

The block also includes a pair of bumpers for "Remington Steele"; promos for "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" and for NBC's Saturday night line-up that included "Diff'rent Strokes", "Silver Spoons", "Gimme a Break", and "Love, Sidney"; and a short weather radar segment (for the state of Missouri).


TFTP Kids: "Calvin and the Colonel" from ABC (Feb. 3, 1962)

Posted to YouTube by user 'Tomorrowpictures.TV'
Length - 28:00

The early-1960s cartoon series "Calvin and the Colonel" is one of the more interesting phenomena of media history. The show, created and voiced by Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll of "Amos n' Andy" fame, is an obvious adaptation of that earlier, more famous and more controversial program.

Created shortly after "Amos n' Andy" ended on radio in 1960, and several years after the "Amos n' Andy" television show's brief but controversial run, "Calvin and the Colonel" is a clear attempt on the part of Gosden and Correll to take the elements that had become questionable about "Amos n' Andy"--the voice characterizations of white men impersonating blacks, the stereotypical situations the characters found themselves in--and transplant them to a less threatening cartoon format where the characters were animals.

The episode above, titled "Wheeling and Dealing" and originally aired on February 3, 1962, is from about midway through the program's one-season 1961-62 run. At a time when prime-time cartoon programs were prevalent (this was the height of the popularity of "The Flintstones"), "Calvin and the Colonel" started out in prime-time in October and November of 1961 before being transferred to Saturday morning until its June 1962 cancellation.

The two lead characters are Calvin T. Burnside, a dimwitted bear (voiced by Correll), and Colonel Montgomery J. Klaxon, a wily fox (voiced by Gosden). Calvin and the Colonel propagate an insurance scam in which they try to get and cash in on auto insurance for the Colonel's nephew's car--after it had already been in an accident. This plot was one that would have been right at home in "Amos n' Andy".


TFTP's Monochrome Monday: Commercials/Promos from ABC (Dec. 18, 1957)

Posted to YouTube by user 'pannoni4'
Length - 8:05

TFTP's Monochrome Monday brings you a classic black & white TV program or clip every Monday morning to kick off the week....

Although not a flow sequence in terms of all having been aired continuously in a solid block of airtime, here is a series of commercials and (mostly) promos from ABC from December of 1957. A pair of minute-long 7-Up commercials kick things off, with one very odd commercial featuring several birds (ducks?) performing different tasks (packing pickles, picking cotton, etc.) made more tolerable by having a bottle of 7-Up. This is followed by a second 7-Up commercial in a bullfighting setting (again with one of the strange birds as a matador).

Most of the rest of the block is ABC network promos, beginning with a short one for "The Frank Sinatra Show" with guest Bing Crosby. An ABC network ID follows, succeeded by a PSA for the U.S. Mail. A station ID for Philadelphia's WFIL-TV leads into a promo for "Wild Bill Hickok"; a lengthy "Season's Greetings" spot with names of ABC personalities displayed; promos for "The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom", "Wednesday Night Fights", and "The Saga of Andy Burnett" (a serial shown on "Disneyland"); and a closing, longer promo for the episode of "The Frank Sinatra Show" with guest Bing Crosby, a Christmas episode featuring various carols and holiday songs.

Interspersed among these are a couple of bumpers for "American Bandstand", an episode from which came all of the promos and other spots in this block.


TFTP Signs-Off for the Week: Sign-Offs Through the Years - 1973 (WVIR/Charlottesville, VA)

Posted to YouTube by user 'stevations'
Length - 1:42

Each Friday afternoon, TFTP signs-off for the week with a classic station sign-off sequence for your enjoyment and to bid farewell until Monday...

And throughout 2018, we are featuring "Sign-Offs Through the Years", as we go year-by-year with each successive week.

This 1973 sign-off from Charlottesville, Virginia, station WVIR (the community's NBC affiliate) continues the early-1970s pattern of consisting of original audio with still images. The audio (after beginning with a jaunty instrumental passage) again features just the ownership/technical voiceover. The still images here (and in all of these such sign-offs) are not just filler--they consist of interesting information about the station being featured. Here we see the WVIR station logo from the era, pictures of the WVIA studio and technical facilities, some of the station's on-air personalities, and even a "fact sheet" about the station.


TFTP On This Day: "ABC Evening News" from ABC (Jan. 25, 1968)

Posted to YouTube by user 'efan2011'
Length - 18:08

It Was 50 Years Ago Today: This excerpt of "ABC Evening News", from fifty years ago today, January 25, 1968, focuses on reporting on the U.S.S. Pueblo incident in which North Korea captured the American ship the U.S.S. Pueblo. (The clip is from the mid-2000s ABC News program "Time Tunnel" that appeared on the ABC online service and digital subchannel called ABC News Now that existed from 2004 until 2009.)

Anchor Bob Young introduces the newscast by discussing President Lyndon Johnson's decision to call up military reservists in an attempt to counter North Korea's action. Correspondent Frank Reynolds (who would himself become the "ABC Evening News" anchor before the end of 1968) reports from the White House, followed by Jim Burns reporting on the reactions among reservists in Brooklyn and other reporters on reactions from other locations around the country.

The balance of the excerpt is filled out by Bill Downs discussing American military options in the event diplomacy failed in resolving the conflict; commentator Howard K. Smith on how average Americans were responding to the crisis; and anchor Young offering additional headlines (with graphics) related to the Vietnam War and other topics. Included also is a lengthy Purina Dog Chow commercial that features a tie-in with the contemporary movie "Dr. Doolittle".


TFTP Will Return After These Messages: Kelloggs Commercials w/ Superman (1954)

Posted to YouTube by user 'tvdays' (all three)
Length - 1:04 (top), 1:01 (middle), 1:02 (bottom)

Every Wednesday, TFTP takes a break from regular programming to bring you a selection of classic commercials. We will return after these messages...

As the sponsor of "The Adventures of Superman" in the 1950s, Kellogg's cereal had many different Superman-related commercials in that era. Here are three of them from 1954, all featuring premiums that kids could get with boxtops from Kellogg's cereals.

In the first commercial above, the premium is a snappy Superman belt--just like Superman himself wore! Kids could add to their Man of Steel wardrobe with the Superman t-shirt offered in the second commercial. Finally, they could through the third and last commercial obtain a flying Superman glider toy (which they could play with while wearing their Superman belt and t-shirt, naturally).

Premiums--in which a consumer would send in boxtops or other packaging elements ("proof of purchase") in exchange for some sort of gift--were central to childrens' programming going all the way back to the network radio days of the 1930s, and "The Adventures of Superman" brought the tradition into the earliest era of TV.


TFTP Comedy: "The Monkees" (series premiere) from NBC (Sep. 12, 1966)

Posted to YouTube by user 'pedroverito'
Length - 25:03

"The Monkees" represented the confluence of two big trends in popular culture in the mid-1960s: first, that of mop-topped four-piece pop music combos, a trend launched, of course, by the Beatles (the Monkees, due to the contrivance of their very existence, were famously the "Pre-Fab Four" to the Beatles' "Fab Four"); the second trend was that of the zany hijinx of 1960s situation comedies. Shows like "The Beverly Hillbillies", "Bewitched", "Gilligan's Island", and "Get Smart" (and others) had laid the ground of zany hijinx well before the Monkees got to it in the fall of 1966.

The episode above is the first of the Monkees' eponymous sitcom "The Monkees". The group had been created with the express purpose of starring in the sitcom, and the original idea had been for the four to be just actors playing musicians. As time went on, the group (Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith, and Micky Dolenz), which had several hit singles in the last half of the 1960s, took greater and greater control of its own music, and they now have a respectable reputation as a late-1960s pop music mainstay.

This premiere episode isn't really a pilot per se--there's no deliberate setting up of relationships or establishment of the overall situation of the series, as in most pilots--but it is a great example both of the slapstick and zany humor that this series would practice and of this type of humor that was found more generally in 1960s sitcoms. At the beach, Davy saves from drowning a princess from an obscure (fictional) country, and the boys spend the rest of the episode trying to defeat the nefarious plot by her uncle to kill her and seize power. Hilarity ensues.


TFTP's Monochrome Monday: "Video Village" from CBS (Sep. 16, 1960)

Posted to YouTube by user 'videoarchives1000'
Length (total) - 29:28

TFTP's Monochrome Monday brings you a classic black & white TV program or clip every Monday morning to kick off the week....

"Video Village" is one of the more interesting game shows in TV history. It's basically a life-size board game--with the contestants themselves as the pawns marking where they are on the board. The show's set is a large representation of an undulating ribbon of game spaces, each space indicating a different kind of action--some with cash prizes, some located in front of mock storefronts with merchandise prizes, some dictating certain types of movements (e.g., trading places with the other contestant), some sending the contestant to jail (like in Monopoly, but with an actual mock jail cell).

The program, from game-show impresarios Heatter-Quigley (best known for "Hollywood Squares"), had both daytime and prime-time versions that debuted within days of each other in July 1960. The daytime edition lasted for two years, until June 1962, but the prime-time version only made it a few months, until September 12, 1960, with the episode featured above. Jack Narz hosted both versions until the prime-time run ended; Monty Hall took over the daytime version thereafter; Red Rowe substituted for this final prime-time episode.


TFTP Signs-Off for the Week: Sign-Offs Through the Years - 1972 (WTAR/Norfolk, VA)

Posted to YouTube by user 'stevations'
Length - 0:31

Each Friday afternoon, TFTP signs-off for the week with a classic station sign-off sequence for your enjoyment and to bid farewell until Monday...

And throughout 2018, we are featuring "Sign-Offs Through the Years", as we go year-by-year with each successive week.

This 1972 sign-off is from Norfolk, Virginia, station WTAR, the CBS affiliate now known as WTKR. Like last week's sign-off from 1971, this one has original audio paired with a still image from the era. Also like last week's sign-off, the audio consists just of the ownership/technical voiceover (and maybe only part of that voiceover).

With audio that is not high-quality (and consists of only part of the sign-off sequence), and no video at all, these early-1970s sign-offs are not very dynamic, but they are part of the history of television and worthy of our consideration.


TFTP Promos: Local Promos for KTHI/Fargo, ND (c. Oct. 14, 1983)

Posted to YouTube by user 'RetroWinnipeg'
Length - 1:01

KTHI-TV was one of the local network affiliates in TFTP's backyard (first for ABC, then switching in the early-1980s to NBC). (The station has since changed call letters to KVLY.) Here are a few local promos for various KTHI programs from October of 1983. First is a promo for a broadcast of the 1950s sci-fi classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still" on a local Saturday afternoon movie series called "Take 11 Theater" (KTHI was on channel 11). This is followed by a promo for the drama "Fame" (premiering Saturday, October 15 at 6:00 pm!), which was just entering first-run syndication after having aired for one season as a network show on NBC. Finally, the clip closes with a promo for a football game between the regional home-team Minnesota Vikings and the Houston Oilers.


TFTP Will Return After These Messages: Fast Food Commercials from the 1970s

Fast food commercials from the 1970s have a special flair, with the chipper music, "action" shots of people enjoying the food, and catchy jingles. Here are three for your enjoyment:

Posted to YouTube by user 'The Museum of Classic Chicago Television'

Everyone's heard of Burger King, but how many people are familiar with the royal burger spouse, Burger Queen? Unless you lived in Louisville, Kentucky, home of this regional chain, in the 1960s or 1970s, probably not many!  By the time of this commercial in 1978, they'd added fried chicken (apparently as their specialty)--a menu diversification that would lead a few years later to the chain (which still exists) changing its name to the less burger-centric Druther's.

Posted to YouTube by user 'VintageTVCommercials'

Everyone's heard of McDonald's, of course, and those old enough have probably heard this extremely popular McDonald's jingle from the 1970s. This 1975 commercial dramatizes the contemporaneous fad of trying to remember all of the Big Mac ingredients contained in the jingle. Did the fact that so few people were able to do so mean that the ad campaign was unsuccessful, or was the fact that they were trying at all mean it was wildly successful?

Posted to YouTube by user 'VintageTVCommercials'

This earlier, undated (but clearly from the early-1970s) McDonald's commercial features one of the chain's most famous jingles, "You Deserve a Break Today". (Look very closely and you will see in the ranks of the countermen a pre-"Happy Days" Anson Williams and a pre-"Good Times" John Amos.) This ad emphasizes the cleanliness of McDonald's restaurants--it's easy to forget now, but this cleanliness, along with the standardization represented by franchised restaurants, were big selling points at a time that was still relatively early in fast-food history.


TFTP Kids: Openings for "Captain Kangaroo" from CBS (1960s & 1980s)

Posted to YouTube by user 'MUSICOM PRODUCTIONS' (top), 'BlastFromTheePast' (bottom)
Length - 0:47 (top), 0:56 (bottom)

"Captain Kangaroo" was a very long-running kids' program on CBS that lasted for thirty years from the mid-1950s through the mid-1980s, long enough that the show's viewers at the end of its run were the children of the viewers who watched it towards the beginning of its run. Bob Keeshan played the Captain, who in the program's earliest years was portrayed as a sort of custodian (and a somewhat gruff one) of what was called the "Treasure House". By the '70s, the character of the Captain had softened and become more of a grandfatherly or avuncular figure and the Treasure House locale of the show had become the "Captain's Place".

Above are two opening sequences from "Captain Kangaroo", one from probably about the early-1960s, the other from the late-1970s or early-1980s. Apart from the fact that the early one is in black-and-white and the later one in color, the two sequences show a consistency in the playful nature of Keeshan's portrayal of the Captain, what with the opening and closing of many tiny doors in the larger door in the 1960s opening and the clips of many different scenes from the program in the later opening. Both openings show the program's basic set as it had evolved: a counter (behind which puppets, especially Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit, could appear) flanked by shelves on one side and a grandfather clock on the other.


TFTP's Monochrome Monday: "The Burns and Allen Show" from CBS (Jul. 17, 1952)

Posted to YouTube by user 'Shokus Video'
Length - 29:32

TFTP's Monochrome Monday brings you a classic black & white TV program or clip every Monday morning to kick off the week....

George Burns and Gracie Allen were a comedy team (and a marital team) that lasted for decades through vaudeville, radio, and television. By the time their TV show--a pioneering situation comedy--premiered in 1950, their act and their appeal had been long established. George was the straight man, calm and bemused in the face of ditzy Gracie's hijinx. Although in the episode above George strays further than usual into wackiness, this division of comedic labor held for the most part in "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show", which aired on CBS from 1950-1958.

Like most TV programs from this earliest period, "The Burns and Allen Show" was originally aired live. We see here many of the trappings of that mode of presentation, including an actual curtain that raises at the beginning of the story. Also like most programs from this earliest period, it had a single sponsor, in this case Carnation Evaporated Milk, featured in the opening and closing as well as in an ad at the very end of the program.

The plot in this episode (from July 1952) is a version of one that would become a sitcom staple: mistaken identity. George thinks that everyone else thinks he's a great singer, when they actually think the opposite. This leads to some comic moments throughout the episode, as George and Gracie banter with friends at home and then as they become mistaken for another couple (one with a husband who can sing well) by a record producer.


TFTP Signs-Off for the Week: Sign-Offs Through the Years - 1971 (WLIW/Long Island, NY)

Posted to YouTube by user 'stevations'
Length - 0:35

Each Friday afternoon, TFTP signs-off for the week with a classic station sign-off sequence for your enjoyment and to bid farewell until Monday...

And throughout 2018, we are featuring "Sign-Offs Through the Years", as we go year-by-year with each successive week.

This first TFTP Friday sign-off of 2018 is also the launch of "Sign-Offs Through the Years", a special feature in which we will go year-by-year with each successive week, starting with today's sign-off from 1971.

There are not a lot of existing copies of full sign-offs from before the late-1970s, and so many of the early sign-offs we'll be posting are either re-creations using original audio or clips with a montage of still images using original audio. In an era before VCRs were widespread, it was relatively easy to record audio (using reel-to-reel or cassette recorders), but very difficult to record video.

This 1971 sign-off is a short one with very poor audio and a montage of still images, from station WLIW/Long Island, NY. WLIW had launched only a couple of years before this in 1969, serving (then, as now) as the public TV station for the Long Island region of New York state, including parts of the New York City metro area. The sign-off audio consists only of the ownership/technical voiceover.


TFTP Flow: Commercial Break from ABC Thursday Night Movie (Jul. 21, 1983)

Posted to YouTube by user 'The Museum of Classic Chicago Television'
Length - 3:45

Television "flow"  =  an unbroken, as-aired sequence of elements such as program segments, news breaks, commercials, program promos, station IDs, and bumpers, which can be analyzed to understand what viewers of the past experienced when watching TV.

This flow sequence is from the ABC Thursday Night Movie, which on this particular Thursday night in July 1983 featured the animated version of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Return of the King". The sequence begins with the teaser for the movie before continuing with a commercial break. The ads in the break are a group of summer-appropriate ones: for toilet cleaner Sani-Flush (set in a summer camp), "Jaws 3-D" (in movie theatres at the time as a summer blockbuster wanna-be), Hallmark Cards (for the summer wedding anniversary season), and Wendy's Restaurant (emphasizing drive-thru service). The flow then returns to the Thursday Night Movie for the first thirty seconds or so of the movie (including an "Edited for Television" tag).


TFTP On This Day: "The Dinah Shore Show" from NBC (Jan. 10, 1952)

Posted to YouTube by user 'balsamwoods'
Length - 14:50

It Was 66 Years Ago Today: This episode of "The Dinah Shore Show", originally aired 66 years ago today, is a good example of two different things: first, of the early career of Dinah Shore, a television icon who had a broadcasting career (in radio and TV) that spanned forty years from the early-1940s until about 1980; and secondly, of the type of fifteen-minute music program that was common in the earliest period of TV from the late-1940s through the 1950s.

Dinah Shore had a singing career that went back even earlier than her broadcasting career, and in the early years her TV programs, including the one featured here, consisted mostly of music. By the mid-1950s, her show (now expanded to sixty minutes) had become a full-fledged variety show. At the beginning of the 1970s, she shifted mostly away from music to daytime talk-show hosting.

At the time of this 1952 episode, her show was only fifteen minutes long, and this was a fairly common program-length at the time for music shows that aired on the early fringe of prime-time. These programs often aired twice a week and alternated in the same timeslot with another fifteen-minute program that aired on two other nights of the week. For instance, during the 1953-54 season, Dinah's show aired on NBC from 7:30-7:45 Eastern on Tuesdays and Thursdays and alternated with "Coke Time with Eddie Fisher" that aired at the same time on Wednesdays and Fridays.

This episode, atypically for most of these fifteen-minute programs, actually has a loose storyline in which Dinah is put up for an audition that then leads to a screen test, with the two performances making up the bulk of the episode. At the time of this episode, Dinah's longtime sponsorship by Chevrolet autos (her later variety show was titled "The Dinah Shore Chevy Show") had already begun, and there are opening and closing Chevrolet segments with a mid-show commercial inserted as well.


TFTP Game Shows: "Wheel of Fortune" from NBC (Dec. 4, 1979)

Posted to YouTube by user 'The Fun & Games Channel'
Length - 27:03

"Wheel of Fortune" is a game-show juggernaut that in 2017 celebrated its 35th anniversary as a nightly syndicated program. Many people might be aware that it also existed as a daytime game show in its early years before and after its launch in syndication. What most people probably do not know (or remember) is that its original host (from 1975-1981) in its daytime version was game-show stand-by Chuck Woolery.

In the classic game-show precincts of YouTube, these early, Woolery-hosted episodes are known as "Woolery Wheel", and here we have a 1979 episode of "Woolery Wheel" that also features original letter-turner Susan Stafford. Contestants Susan, Lea, and Ginger face off in a version of the game that seems terribly quaint and retrograde to us today, with letters that actually had to be turned, a returning champion similar to many other game-shows of the era (and thus no bonus round), a wheel with much fewer bells and whistles, and the original bazaar-style shopping segment at the end of each game. Because of the need to physically turn the letters, the show is considerably slower-paced than it is now. But the core of the game is already there--and is one of the things that has made the game so perennial.

This recording includes original commercial breaks, with many interesting late-1970s era ads. These include: Nestle Bowl O' Noodles, Mueller's Spaghetti, a Sears commercial for women's clothing, Purina Moist & Chunky and Gravy Train dog foods, Metamucil, Chiffon margarine, Maxwell House coffee, Sunlite sunflower oil, Rice Krispies cereal, Milk Mate chocolate milk mix, and Cross Your Heart bras. In addition, there is a bumper ad for Ben Franklin Five and Dime stores and a WNBC local program promo for "The Newlywed Game".


Happy New Year from TFTP: Television from the Past!

Posted to YouTube by user 'The Museum of Classic Chicago Television'
Length - 1:50

Television from the Past wishes you a very Happy New Year, as we begin the year 2018!

For your classic TV enjoyment in kicking off the New Year, here's a short flow clip from ON-TV, a subscription television service that lasted for several years in the late-1970s and early-1980s. There were a number of such over-the-air pay-TV services in this era, after HBO and Showtime had launched and cable TV in general was growing quickly, but before these other, more familiar services had really entrenched themselves in American homes.

The clip above--from New Year's Day 1982--begins with the last few seconds of the end credits of the concert film "No One Gets Out of Here Alive" with The Doors. This is followed by a "Happy New Year" network ID for ON-TV and the opening bumper for an "ON-TV Subscription Television Special". The special, the first minute or so of which follows, is the legendary "Elephant Parts" by Monkees member Michael Nesmith. This hour-long program was a pioneering work of music video, cited as one of the influences on MTV when it premiered the previous year and winner of the first-ever Grammy for music video.