August 23, 2014

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"Our World" And Welcome To It

Where to find classic TV you can't find on TV any more.

I hope my superiors don't get too upset at this blog...since I'm directing some of our viewers to other programming.

I realize, as has been well-publicized, that there's a lot of junk on YouTube, but, thanks to some uploaders who have been mining their old VHS libraries, there's also a lot of classic TV that cable and broadcast networks have forgotten about, in their quest to reach anyone under the age of 40.

Some of it is from films which were once "bicycled" to TV stations (including, in all likelihood, WTAP) by networks, which contain the commercials and other announcements which originally appeared on the shows.  The rest was recorded off air on VCR's, dating from the 1980's, when they came into widespread use.

In the latter category is a wonderful show which ABC scheduled against the phenominally successful Cosby Show on NBC, when Cosby was at the height of its success.

Called Our World, it was essentially a one-hour history lesson with a generous amount of archive footage (both network and, in many cases, newsreel) from a very narrow time in history, usually in a few months or even a day of a specific year.

The co-hosts were former CBS and ABC sportscaster Ray Gandolf and Linda Ellerbee, one of the wittiest writers and broadcasters I've ever heard, who had recently moved to ABC after spending a decade as an NBC correspondent and anchor (her other masterpiece was NBC News Overnight, which, sadly but not surprisingly, suffered the same fate as Our World).

The ratings results were predictable: Our World was crushed both by Cosby and its competition on CBS. That, in spite of wonderful reviews by those who did see it.  It ranked at the bottom of the Nielsens, and was cancelled after only one season, which might have been something of a triumph. Had it been an entertainment show, it might not have lasted until January.

I fear that, someday, the networks and show producers who, I'm sure, realize all this old programming is being viewed for free on YouTube, are going to crack down and demand royalties for it, or simply forbid it from being shown, period.  Their rationale, I'm sure, is: if they can't make money on it, it shouldn't be shown.

To them, I simply say: it's television history, and THEIR history, even if people growing up today don't realize it, and it should be available to as many people as possible. 

In the words Linda Ellerbee made famous (and she admits to stealing it): And So It Goes.

 

 

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