Found an old TV Guide in box of stuff I bought at an estate sale. It’s dated October 13th to the 19th, 1974. It had something in it I had forgotten all about. There were special listings for 2 NFL games, Philadelphia at NY Giants and the Monday night game, San Francisco at Detroit. Each listing had a roster of each team. I remember saving these when I was younger. Each roster only listed 40 players. I looked in a TV Guide today while grocery shopping, they don’t even have regular TV listings. A blast from the past that brought back some memories.
Yeah, I haven’t bought a TV Guide since they stopped having TV listings back in the '90s.
All my relatives had a subscription when I was a kid. I had a subscription after college until the early 90’s. It got too confusing with all the new channels. Easier to use the guide on DirectTV.
Back then I watched a lot of tv and always worked the tv guide crossword puzzle. Eventually my tv viewing cut back and I didn’t know the shows well enough to fill in the answers anymore.
Any show that made the cover of the TV Guide knew they were a success. Literally every big hit show’s cast appeared. Either singly or a cast photo.
MASH must have set a record. Google “tv guide cover mash” there’s at least six or seven different covers.
What I most remember as a kid was, since I lived in a rural area, looking with envy at the Seattle/Portland listings. Wait a minute, these cities had stations that weren’t ABC, CBS, or NBC! And they stayed on the air until 3 in the morning, putting on shows that I’d never even heard of.
I saw a bunch of older ones at an antique store a few months ago, and brought back memories of reading these as a kid.
In the summer of 1976 I worked at TV guide on a project to microfilm all of their past editions going back into the early 50s. I got to see every magazine published up until then, and many of the different local versions. The national contents were printed on glossy paper, the local listings and local stories were on newsprint. The job was pretty boring but I really enjoyed the opportunity to see all those issues and read all those stories. Now it’s been at least 20 years since I’ve seen an issue.
I saved 2 TV Guides:
The last episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (Cover-“So long, Mary”)
The last episode of MASH (Cover-"So long, MASH")
I grew up in the 70s with several older brothers and we ***literally *(used correctly) would fight over the TV Guide! Plus it only cost like 15¢. I really can’t remember exactly when I stopped getting them. I know I found early cable system’s devoted guide channels pretty useless. I do remember buying an early guide set-top box (Star Sight) in the late-nineties. Worked pretty well, had an IR wand to start your VCR which made recording stuff a lot easier. Got into hacking DirecTV around 1999 and their systems had a pretty decent on-screen guide built-in. Then I got a TiVo in 2001 and have never needed anything else since.
Something with TV Guides I really remember looking forward to was their annual Fall TV preview issue (I lived on television). I also remember the Close Up boxed articles for special airings. There was also a tech column added in the later 70s that I loved reading, the guy would discuss television technology issues and answer letters. He also claimed to be the guy who invented the word ‘camcorder’.
I tired to YouTube the scene from The Lost Boys where grandpa is bitching about people stealing his TV guide… and don’t pull on the label if it starts to peel off…
Wow, grandpa, you have TV?
No!.. you don’t need TV if you got the TV guide…
TV Guide used to have some pretty funny capsule movie reviews. Two of my favorites:
Razorback: Arguably the best movie ever made about a large, man-eating hog.
Attack of the 50-Foot Woman: The attack, such as it is, comes in the last five minutes of the movie.
For a trip down someone else’s memory lane, try the BBC’s archive of Radio Times programme listings since forever:
I remember Cleveland Amory doing reviews, forget if it was TV shows or TV movies. It used to be essential, now I don’t know why one would ever get the magazine. I remember when color shows were noted and reruns were identified. Later, they had like an 8 digit code to tell your DVR what you wanted to record.
One I recall, for Prince of Darkness, referred to a “canister of Liquid Satan”.
I used to buy their fall preview issue long after I stopped subscribing. I kept many of them and it’s fun to see some totally forgotten shows that they named as their featured pick for one night or another.
The best capsule reviews I’ve seen were in Newsday, especially with the recurring phrase, “Buy the premise, buy the flick,” used for particularly silly concepts.
I’m not quite Homer Simpson, with every back issue in the basement, but I have a collection of old issue. I have many of the Fall Preview issues. I love to go back and see how the shows fared, or if I even remember them. I’ve got individual issues going back to the 50s. Quite fun to reread. I learned a lot about how TV shows were made. They had good behind the scenes stuff, too.
I have one issue where on Sunday there is an NFL game between the Jets and the Raiders, and there’s a closeup feature on this movie they are showing called Heidi. Wonder if I can watch them both?
I liked the old style system TVG used, but it doesn’t work with more than the 6 or so channels back then. A grid is the only way to go these days, preferably searchable.
As a kid and teenager I would voraciously read them every week and plan out the shows I was going to watch. At some point in the 90s or early 2000s the quality declined, the listings declined and I stopped. I saved many issues and I still have some of them somewhere.
A few years ago I was cleaning and found one from December 1989. It had an ad touting the upcoming premiere of the Simpson’s first episode but was actually from the week before it actually aired.
I remember the writing and stories as well as the listings. Some of it wasn’t half bad and it was the only way we knew about shows on channels we didn’t get. We could get three (public, NBC, CBS) but the Guide had all kinds of good stuff we could imagine from the descriptions if nothing else.
I also used to page through the TV Guide eagerly when it came in the mail each week, planning out my weekly viewing, checking the plot descriptions of all my favorite shows, and looking for obscure old black and white monster movies that would be on after midnight, and begging my parents for permission to stay up and watch them.
When I first moved out on my own and got my own apartment, my mother bought me a subscription to TV Guide, which I found incredibly useful. Over the years it became less important, as cable boxes and satellite services started to have on-screen guides that were in many ways easier to access. I still appreciated TV Guide for its articles, but the quality began to go down and the listings became less substantial. When they went from digest to conventional magazine size, that was the point that I no longer bothered to read it anymore and let my subscription expire.
I envy some of you your collections of old issues. The library I now work at has bound issues going back to 1971, but it’s not the same as having my own!
I have all the Fall Preview issues from 1980 on. Let’s look at 1980’s upcoming events…ooh, a bunch of movies, like Norma Rae, will be shown. (Remember when they bothered to list what movies were coming up?) New shows: Hill Street Blues, Magnum P. I. Shows listed as “in the wings” include Dynasty.
I wonder what they titled the issues featuring the final episodes of Cheers, Newhart, Taxi, etc.
It’s fun to speculate.