And with that, we're off on another week of TV Guide, and in case you hadn't noticed, the theme is change. Sometimes the change is evolutionary, based on changing times. Other times, the changes we've seen make the past seem like it came from another planet. Either way, things just aren't what they used to be.
The relationship between TV and football, for example. Here we are at Saturday, September 13, and the big sports story on television is not college football, but the national pasttime - baseball. It's a preview of the upcoming World Series, sort of: CBS' team of Dizzy Dean and Buddy Blattner covers the eventual American League champion Yankees vs. the White Sox in Chicago, while NBC counters with the Cardinals visiting the soon-to-be National League champion Milwaukee Braves, broacast by Leo Durocher and Lindsay Nelson. Dueling national broadcasts - but as we saw last week, this was before leagues negotiated national broadcasting contracts, so the networks were free to deal with teams (and their sponsors) on an individual basis. ABC would get into the act as well in the early 60s, before Major League Baseball awarded the exclusive national contract to NBC.
There's also no pro football on Sunday - at least none that counts. The NFL's season, which today runs 16 games (with a bye week) and one year started before Labor Day, was only 12 games in 1958, which meant that the regular season didn't kick off until September 28. So if you wanted some football, you got the preseason kind - in this case, an innocuous matchup between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts. Ah, but little did we know that these two teams would meet again for the NFL Championship on December 28 - aka The Greatest Game Ever Played.
|The great thing about a statewide TV Guide|
Edition - if you don't like one station's ad,
there's always another one
*Four days a week; ABC had boxing on Wednesdays.
Speaking of game shows as we were a moment ago, change is in the air there as well, with the advent of the Quiz Show Scandals signaling the beginning of the end of the big-money, big-ratings shows. Burt Boyar's "Facts Behind Quiz Scandal" details the genesis of the scandal, which hasn't ripened into the full-blown Robert Redford era quite yet; the focus of the story is on the dispute between Herb Stempel and the producers of the show Twenty One, Dan Enright and Jack Barry. Stempel claims he was forced off the program, while Enright and Barry counter that Stempel needs psychiatric care. Dotto, the show that instigated the scandal, has been taken off the air, but Twenty One is still on NBC, and its most famous hero, Charles Van Doren, is still on the Today show. Van Doren, in fact, isn't mentioned in the article at all, but there is what must have been a tantalizing line for those millions who idolized the brilliant, handsome Van Doren; Jack Narz, the host of the disgraced Dotto, says "there isn't a quiz show on the air which doesn't have some control over its contestants." Boyar writes that "[w]here or when this drama will end is anyone's business," and, as is so often the case with these old TV Guide articles, it is the story yet to come that intrigues.
|Suitable for TV snackin'|
|Just don't throw it|
through the window
- At night a black jagged bar about a half-inch wide rips horizontally through my picture on Channels 2 through 6.
- During the day, the picture on my set is beautiful. At night it shrinks and gets dark.
- When I was told my picture tube was weak I bought a new set. I put the old TV in the den for the kids. However, my new set acts erratic. It only happens when I'm watching Channel 6 and the kids watch Channel 3. My 6 whitewashes out.
- For the last few months we've had a ham-radio operator living across the street. It seems to me that since then, Channel 6, which was my best station, has developed a continual herringbone-pattern overlay.*
Advertising has changed as well - while future back cover ads declare, "You've come a long way, baby," in 1958 there was still room for the ad on your right, featuring singing star Jimmie Rodgers, for Halo shampoo, reminding all you ladies out there that "You can always tell a HALO girl." Ah, doesn't it make you all want to be Halo girls?"
This whole piece has been about change, but perhaps the biggest change of all was the change that doesn't appear in this issue, but was hinted at on practically every-other page: the 1958 Fall Preview issue, coming the following week. In those pages we'd learn of the new season ahead, featuring "Eleven new Westerns, many music and variety shows, more gumshoes," sports and "spectaculars." They always did know how to make you want to stay tuned, didn't they?