July 18, 2018

The Bedtime Nooz

It's time again to take a closer look at one of the local programs spotlighted in this week's Twin Cities edition of TV Guide. It's The Bedtime Nooz (or Newz, as it sometimes appeared), WCCO's Saturday late-night program. I think I've mentioned it before, but probably not in a lot of detail.

The star of The Bedtime Nooz - it wouldn't be quite accurate to call him the anchor - was Dave Moore, who was in fact the anchor of WCCO's 6:00 and 10:00 weekday news. Moore was an institution in the Twin Cities, by far the region's best-known and most respected newscaster. Moore anchored the news on WCCO from 1957 until 1991; he also hosted a public affairs program, Moore on Sunday (or The Moore Report), winning a Peabody award for reporting from Vietnam during the war.

So Dave Moore definitely had the street cred when it came to reporting and news. He was, however, also an actor, something for which he never lost his taste. He made occasional appearances in community theater, his name always a guaranteed attraction, but his performances were more than credible enough to merit return engagements. And it was that acting ability that led to perhaps his most popular and most loved program, The Bedtime Nooz.

It's classified as a satirical program; there are those who consider it a forerunner to SNL's "Weekend Update" feature. I don't know that I'd entirely agree with that, though. Sure, it made fun of local news figures, but Dave also found time to poke his fellow journalists at the station. The stories Moore read were actual news stories, and if there was a serious one (such as a brief headline on the investigation into the causes of the city's 1968 riots), Dave would give it a straight read. Others had the Moore touch - an arched eyebrow, a throwaway comment, a ridiculous voiceover that had absolutely nothing to do with the film being shown.  Some bits were downright silly, others shredded the image of a television newsroom as a well-oiled hive of journalistic activity. The commercials for the show's longtime sponsor, the Sealy Mattress Company, were simply ridiculous.

Moore's presence on the show was the crowning touch. His sense of humor was always present on the evening news, whether in the way he interacted with his colleagues on the set or in his ability to see the occasional absurdity present in a news story. His motto could have been, "I take what I do seriously, but not always how I do it." Make no mistake; if there was breaking news happening - tornadoes, fires, the riots of the late '60s - there wasn't a more authoritative person to be found. His newscasts were always straightforward, without the fluff that came to characterize the "Happy News" of the '70s. There was always that twinkle, though, waiting to come out.

The Bedtime Nooz ran on Saturdays after the 10:30 p.m. movie, which meant it never aired before midnight, and that was the perfect hour for the show's wacky, bizarre humor. It was oneHere' of my fondest television memories growing up, being able to stay up late on Saturdays to watch it. It was probably more responsible than anything for honing my appreciation for comedy, news, and being a night owl.

Here's a clip from a Bedtime Nooz retrospective that perfectly captures the atmosphere of this show, from the voiceover introduction (done by weathercaster Bud Kraehling) to the cooperation of Sealy, highlighting Moore's penchant for playing multiple characters. (You can see a rare complete episode here.)


No wonder so many people remember it so fondly. Local television used to be able to create such memories - can you say that about your local station today?  TV  

2 comments:

  1. Speaking of local MN programs, can anyone else remember a show called CHARLIE HORSE? I saw it on WKRN-TV in Nashville summer 1982, but I know it came out of Minneapolis, hosted by a man named Charlie Bush. He hosted the show, which mostly consisted of reruns of 1950s sitcoms I'd never seen before, since local stations only ran B&W sitcoms like I LOVE LUCY & LEAVE IT TO BEAVER at the time. I remember seeing DOBIE GILLIS there for the first time. About 3 years later Nick-at-Nite started running these shows, and I finally got to see lots of the 1950s sitcoms I'd never seen there.

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  2. This show was way ahead of its time, Mitchell. Sure made up for the worst station in the worst town in the world...

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