Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I felt a weird twinge of sadness when I stumbled across this.

The ABC Friday Night Movie was kind of a big deal in the late seventies, likely to include anything from the original pilots for The Love Boat and Fantasy Island to tame horror pictures like It Happened At Lakewood Manor and Curse of The Black Widow to low-rent disaster epics like this one. But they were all original, heavily promoted and presented with pride.

Look at those opening graphics. This was an Event, or, as the narration proclaims,a World Premiere Motion Picture. There was no irony at work here. The executives responsible for putting things like this on the air surely harbored no illusions that they were making art, but at least they were trying for something watchable, something to appeal to a wide audience. Kids might enjoy a movie like Death Of Ocean View Park because it featured stuff blowing up, and older audiences might enjoy seeing old favorites like Mike Connors and Martin Landau.

Most network TV from this era was awful, true. But it's hard not to feel a bit of affection for a time when everyone watched the same thing at the same time, when the Big Three networks seemed to actually care about their viewers, and peddled their wares, however dubious, as if they actually believed in the product.