Tuesday 18 January 2011

We Want the Airwaves

Neilsen Ratings: Top Ten U.S. Television Shows, 1979-1980

1. 60 Minutes
2. Three's Company
3. M*A*S*H
4. Alice
5. Dallas
6. Flo
7. The Jeffersons
8. The Dukes of Hazzard
9. That's Incredible
10 One Day At A Time


David K Wayne said...

That would have been my kind of show. We used to have a fair few similar shows on late night/local TV in the late 70s/80s. Often ending with press-generated 'outrage' if tabloid journalists needed something to write about. The most famous example being this:


That ran at teatime and coud get Lydia Lunch on the same bill as Tina Turner, so it was essential viewing to this schoolboy.

Greyhoos said...

Yeah, editions of "The Tube" briefly ran in the U.S. during the mid '80s. It was always a pleasure whenever I happened to catch one.

Glenn O'Brien's a guy with an amusingly odd history. He was for a while in the '70s an editor and columnist at Warhol's Interview. Then he apparently went off and took a job as managing editor at High Times magazine. He claims it was that latter gig gave him the idea for "TV Party," as he was always dealing with older counter-cultural types who were into the notion of "guerilla television" (or: public-access cable TV as a means of democratizing the airwaves at the local level).

He's most known as a consummate gadfly from the late-'70s/early-'80s NYC scene. "TV Party" was mostly him & his friends at that time -- Blondie's Chris Stein (who was co-host & "musical director"), Fab 5 Freddy, Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Byrne, John Lurie, et al. were frequently on the show. Often the best parts were when they'd open up the phone lines, sit back and just dryly shoot down & shrug off all the angry, hateful, curse-strewn calls they'd get from NYers who'd unwittingly tuned in.

And as you probably deduced from that last clip, they were often incredibly stoned when they did the show.

Greyhoos said...

And the "Heavy Metal" edition was exactly as it looks: 15 minutes of guitar wankery and mock cock-rockmanship; then a few minutes of angry calls from viewers while Basquiat typed random words, phrases, and strings of letters across the screen; followed by another extended "jam session" to fill out the remainder of the show. Tedious, boring, indulgent, juvenile -- but brilliantly amusing.

David K Wayne said...

Well indulgent, juvenile nonsense broadened my world despite itself. In the 80s our 4th channel had a lot of stuff catering to various minorities, art movements and subcultures, and could be so 'experimental' and masturbatory as to be almost unwatchable (but still quite compelling). That all got shut down when it became dominated by reality TV and endless 'Friends' repeats. Unlike previous decades, none of that inspired condemnation from politicians and newspapers.

One thing I notice with under-30s is that their definition of 'weird' is now very, very narrow...