80’s TV DVR overload

31 Oct

I’ve been stuck in the house not feeling well lately, and watching a lot of TV. Tempted by the idea that the new network The Hub (which is owned by Hasbro) would be airing the original Transformers AND an entire slew of some of my favorite sitcoms ever.. I decided to call up and expand my cable package to get it. Heck, if I’m going to be sitting around all day, might as well enjoy it. Bumping up my package to the next level overwhelmed me with choices, since it just about doubled my channels, but I was pretty well stuck on the Hub for a whole week straight before venturing on.

I thought it was great, being able to wake up and watch : Fraggle Rock in the morning, and then tune in for Family Ties, Doogie Howser, and Wonder Years in the evening.

+ + =

After that comes a set of 60s/70s sitcoms akin to what the old Nick at Nite used to show. Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and yes, the original Adam West Batman.  Just when you think you’ve had enough TV satisfaction for one day.. they top it all off with the best of all.. Original G1 Transformers and GI JOE.  Anytime I can see Sunbow animation on TV, especially in 2010?! Makes me downright giddy.

Best of all, they even feature the original bumpers when going to commercial break. I love it. It makes it feel like I’m watching it straight from an 80’s broadcast.

I’ve been enjoying all this for a week or so now, and I’ve found that with so many channels, it takes A LOT of digging around on my digital cable menu to make sure I’m not missing out on anything awesome.  I was pleasantly surprised to find Hallmark Movie Channel airing Return to Oz which to me, is perfect for Halloween. ABC Family also deserves a nod for broadcasting The Black Cauldron yesterday morning. Yes, even though I already have both of these movies, I had to DVR them, I mean, how often do you see such obscure Disney movies on TV? To me it always seems different to watch a movie on TV anyway. I love that stuff like that was on recently and for once, it was plucked from obscurity, and people that may have never even heard of it had a chance to see it. No thanks to the Disney Channel of course. But, heck, if any channel out there is contributing to end the redundant lack of variety in programming, they’ve got my support!

Now, I was happily content to continue browsing around, as if hunting for TV treasure, seeing if there were any other hidden goodies waiting for me to overload my DVR with.   I woke up this morning, and stumbled across a listing for Heathcliff which of course, is on at like 4AM. It was on some random channel I’ve always had that airs ‘retro’ shows, similar again to Nick at Nite or TV Land, but  usually has an almost total lack of cartoons.

It started off a few months ago when I noticed they were showing Filmation’s Archies one afternoon. Ever since  then I’ll occasionally take a glance to see if there is anything new, but that hadn’t been the case so far.  So this morning, I was surprised! Alright, I thought, Heathcliff, sweet! Scrolled down..Inspector Gadget? Score!!

There are two channels next to each other in their listings that are nearly identical. The  aforementioned is a digital sub-channel of our local ABC affiliate, which shows the network,  This TV yes, it’s called  ‘This‘.  The other, is a network in a similar fashion, RTN Retro Television Network .  Like scavenging through a cereal box to uncover the prize, I thought just maybe, RTN, seeing as it was similar to the other, might hold some cartoon surprises too. Nothing prepared me for what  I was about to see. Below is a screen cap of their Saturday lineup.

YES, you are reading that correctly people. I WILL BE WATCHING SHE-RA: Princess of Power ON TV this Saturday morning.  I better stock the cupboard full of some licensed cartoon cereal and polish up one of my promotional Care Bears drinking glasses for my Orange Juice.. and in addition to that, I may even pick up some pop-tarts, everything I need as  part of my complete breakfast.

* Note.. in the Seattle area, the channels referred to in this entry are Comcast digital channels 114 and 117.


6 Responses to “80’s TV DVR overload”

  1. Grant Lauritzen November 1, 2010 at 12:39 am #

    I knew whoever now owns the rights to Jem would get you sooner or later, don’t tell me you got a cease and desist for using your border? ; )

    Thanks for the tip, I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore so I had no idea of this channel until just now. I was wondering who got The Wonder Years since it left ION, I think Doogie used to be on a channel somewhere but I haven’t seen Family Ties since the 90’s at least outside of DVD.

    It’s funny how old school Nick at Nite actually feels very 80’s now too. The only thing that would be better would be if they had actual commercials but due to the litigious culture we live in, I know that can never truly happen. But yes, those old Sunbow animated shows are quitenssenitally (sp?) of the era and it’s why no matter how terrible the production I’ve been actively seeking getting every show they ever made. Shame it all came crashing down in the 90’s though.

    I am very surprised to hear that they have Disney properties and TBC seeing as how that was just released a few months back and it seems that they normally wait awhile before re-airing it.

    It is amazing that in all the years we’ve known each other that only Boomerang has really capitalized on retro programming and even then they only show The Snorks or Pac-Man and the rest of it is generic Flinstones, Jetsons, and the like that used to show daily on The Cartoon Network before it went to shit like most stations.

    I kind of figured that Heathcliff and Gadget would be together since the same team worked on both shows and they would air after each other on Nickelodeon along with Danger Mouse, Bananaman, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Spartakus and The Sun Beneath The Sea, Belle and Sebastian (not the musicians), Count Duckula, Noozles, The Elephant Show, The Koala Show, Today’s Special, Pinwheel, and Looney Toons. That’s all I can remember right now but I’m sure you know the rest of them.

    The Filmation stuff is great, I got most of their stuff back in my RJ days except for Fat Albert and The Archies. They have also started re-releasing bare bones edition of She-Ra here too. Filmation was always the Disney of animated shows to me before the Disney Afternoon came along. Sure, they used stock footage but the effects, background, and character designs were so rich. Reminds me very much of Don Bluth’s early work.

    Bravestarr tanked due to a poor marketing plan and the fact that there was an animation crash at the time but it was a decent show, The New Adventures of He-Man was kind of goofy but it has camp value like the 60’s Batman.

    But She-Ra IS the finest work that Filmation did imo, even better than He-Man. I will attest to that even as a straight male, it is unfairly pegged as the girl power version of He-Man but it was better written, darker in tone, had higher production values and had a very catchy synth soundtrack too. I think the flowery nature of some characters scared boys off of it even though I watched initally since the females on the show were unusually attractively drawn.

  2. Grant Lauritzen November 1, 2010 at 12:48 am #

    I’m not sure if my comment went through or you have a new way of submitting them but it was a doozy of one so I’ll retype it later if it didn’t go through.

    I’ve seen Who’s The Boss Season 1 around here a lot which I thought I should mention since I know that was another of your favorites growing up. I am surprised to learn that they only did that set and never finished the series due to low sales yet they completed Charles in Charge which is a shame since Scott Baio seems like such an asshole today in person.

    They’ve also been cutting the prices back on the old DA shows – Ducktales, Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck, and Talespin which I picked up. That was some of Disney’s very best work and though I am glad to now have uncut episodes it is bittersweet since they also never compeleted the full run due to Disney’s single mindendess towards profits when it comes to the home market.

    Also rediscovered this show called Tales of The Golden Monkey with the guy from Seventh Heaven as an Indiana Jones-esque adventurer which seems really out of character. It’s a cross between Raiders of The Lost Ark and Talespin but it only lasted one season due to the high costs of producing it.

    Due to the economy, it seems that a lot of companies are going the MOD (Manufactured On Demand) route where you pay online to buy the set. They are doing this with Thundarr The Barbarian, Small Wonder, Webster, and a few other classics and it looks to be the new trend now. Kind of sad to go to electronic stores now and only see reality shows on the shelves but I guess it is a sign of the times.

  3. Grant Lauritzen November 1, 2010 at 1:04 am #

    Damn, I almost typed a blog entry myself in length. Just wanted to say that your “This” link isn’t working for me, not sure if it’s me or the site though.

    As for RTN, just for fun I’m going to try and name all the shows pictured:

    Leave it To Beaver, The Hardy Boys, Emergency, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dragnet, Kojack, Battlestar Galactica, The Incredible Hulk, Magnum PI, McHale’s Navy, Quincy, Knight Rider, and The A-Team.

    I’m looking at the links you gave me now and you should write in a comment suggesting what you want them to show or write another entry on what your own network would be.

    If I didn’t know what you were all about, I would say you were paid to shill for these stations, haha.

  4. Grant Lauritzen November 4, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    Matt Houston is another show from my youth I forgot all about till I saw that site. It was in the vein of Knight Rider, Stingray, Airwolf, The A-Team, Automan, Manimal, The Fall Guy, Blue Thunder, Streethawk, Magnum P.I., Simon and Simon, Riptide, and a host of other exciting 80’s action series that unfortunately no longer seem to be on the air unless you count boring proceduals.

    Also, looking at The Hub I’m glad it just started or I would have felt really out of it. Funny how Pound Puppies, Strawberry Shortcake, Transformers, and GI Joe
    all got reboots by Hasbro. The re-designs are offensive to my eyes and soul though and the animation and voicework even more so.

    Lastly, and this might be a good future topic…..

    Just why is it that the shows we grew up with leave you feeling good and the ones of today leave you feeling so empty inside? Sure, part of it is nostalgia but it’s so much deeper than that too.

    Look at the cinematography on Family Ties compared with say, Grey’s Anatomy. I think digital and hand held camera work really gives you a very disoriented and cold feeling compared with the warmth and comfort of the shows from 20 years ago or more.

    I think the interior decorating is a part of it too. In those older sitcoms, a lot of old technology and styles existed along new ones so you really did feel that the Keaton home could have been your neighbors (or at least, I thought I did). But in today’s shows, it is like they are a living catalog for whatever cheap shit they are trying to shove down the public’s throat at the time which ironically helps date the show even more than older shows.

    I could go on and on about this, but the two other things I want to say before I leave is that a full theme song also went a long way to making a show more than just a show to me in addition to non-squeezed off credits. Also, the character arcs were more realistic in some ways and they were not always going for shock value or ratings either.

    Part of all this is pure greed and trying to cut corners which is true in all parts of life now, unfortnatly. But I think another part is creative bankruptcy on the executive producers part and simply lacking the knowledge of what makes a show timeless.

  5. Grant Lauritzen November 5, 2010 at 7:24 am #

    Something really cool my friend’s b/f found…..


    If you don’t have time to look through it, here’s the most interesting entries –

    # Batman (’60s)

    Probably the most-asked-about item, and probably the show with the most rights issues. There’s no sense in covering all this again here; Dave did an extensive write-up about it at the main site in September 2008. Note that, following that write-up, a few people tried to tell us that everything posted there is all wrong, and that the REAL issue is this one other thing over here. We tried to get them to provide details, offer proof of what they were saying, etc. Nothing ever came of it…so we’re sticking with the info there, at least for now.

    # The Wonder Years

    Music rights issues, plain and simple. The show included SO much music that it is taking a long time to either license the original music, or determine that a piece can’t or won’t be licensed (or isn’t affordable to license), and find a suitable replacement that can be used for DVD and make the switch. The studio wants to release it, but this is a long process. Note that in 1998 two single-disc “best-of”-type DVDs came out with extensive music changes; they are long out of print and can sell for tons of dough on the used DVD circuit.

    Good Morning, Miss Bliss

    Before NBC aired 5 seasons of Saved by the Bell (not to mention the subsequent telefilms and spin-offs), there was a season of a show starring Hayley Mills called “Good Morning, Miss Bliss”. Fans of Bell (and not just the so-called “completists”, either) wonder where the DVDs are for this original version of the show. The answer is pretty straightforward: somewhere in Disney’s vaults. While NBC picked up on the retooled version of the program, they originally passed on the form of the show that starred Mills, and it aired instead on The Disney Channel. So Disney’s rights on Miss Bliss episodes have to be considered as part of any hold-up on DVDs.

    Jem and the Holograms

    In May 2005 we reported this: “Rhino’s deal with Sunbow, the licensor of Transformers, GI Joe and Jem, has expired. Sony Music has acquired them and will reissue these titles at some point.” But before Sony Music’s SonyWonder label released the Sunbow titles (other than a re-issue of the animated Transformers theatrical film), they were shut down by their corporate parents in March 2007. The Sunbow license pretty much went into limbo at that point, until it eventually expired, and the rights reverted back to the property-holders at Hasbro. In April 2009, Hasbro announced that they licensed G.I. Joe and Transformers to Shout! Factory, in time to release the classic original cartoons as a tie-in with new summer blockbuster theatrical films. But the deal did not include ANY of the other classic cartoons in the Sunbow block, such as Jem (the only other item licensed was a brand-new direct-to-video My Little Pony film). Perhaps some of the others will get licensed to Shout! – or some other interested party – at some point, but right now there is no deal out there which allows for Jem to come back to DVD. UPDATE (1/31/2010): Despite word of an overseas, non-English-language DVD release of the show coming out, we’ve confirmed that Hasbro is still not planning to license the show out for a new North American DVD release at this time. A post at the Shout! Factory message board by one of their DVD producers says, “The issue isn’t really about rights. I can’t go into why the series isn’t being released, but I can tell you it’s not really a matter of rights and licenses.”


    After Season 1 came out in June 2007 and Season 2 came out in June 2008, the summer of 2009 came and went with no hints for the show’s third season on DVD. By the end of October 2009, we asked Warner Home Video about the show, and they told us at the time that they had “no plans”. Why not? No reason was officially given on the record, but the indication is that it’s the same as a few other held-up Warner releases (like Perfect Strangers, for example): a combination of lower sales expectations on subsequent season set releases (the sales drop-off from S1 to S2 was bigger than expected, one retail contact told me) along with higher costs for music rights and other needed expenditures. Lest you forget, the 3rd Season of CHiPs started with a double-length episode called “Roller Disco”, with popular music of the time used at a charity event (along with an insanely huge number of guest-star cameos). So this may be a bigger stumbling block than you might imagine. We hope that someday Warner can find a way to make the numbers work (perhaps when a rumored CHiPs big-screen movie comes along, supposedly starring Wilmer Valderrama of That ’70s Show as “Ponch” and currently projected for 2011 per IMDB.com), but right now it looks like Ponch and Jon are taking some time off of their patrols. UPDATE (4/12/2010): at the live online chat last week (4/5/10) with Warner Home Video, hosted by the Home Theater Forum, WHV was asked whether they would keep the series going, and replied “No plans for future seasons at this time although we continue to evaluate it.”

    M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand)

    There are authorized DVD releases of this classic ’80s animated series available in Region 2 (U.K./Europe) and Region 4 (Australia/New Zealand), but not in Region 1 (USA/Canada). Oh, we reported back at the start of 2005 about an Amazon listing for something made by Jade Entertainment, but that turned out to be an unauthorized release of a handful of episodes, which is no longer available. Well, then, what about the 2006 press release we posted, saying that this show was “Among 20 Properties Returned to DiC From Jetix Europe & Disney”? In the end, that turned out to be mainly for other geographic territories than North America (and is probably why those overseas releases were able to happen). So what is the State-side hold-up? The clearest answer we’ve ever seen can be found in comments made by DVD Producer Brian Ward, posted at Shout! Factory’s message board. Responding to a reader question about why there has been no release of the program in North America, Ward answered on behalf of Shout (who’s released other shows produced by DiC, and who is known to have made an effort in the past to secure rights to this particular show) by saying this: “Ultimately, it comes down to rights. DiC produced the series, but doesn’t own the license. That was owned by the toy company, Kenner. Kenner was bought out by Hasbro. DiC was bought out by Cookie Jar. Where does that leave M.A.S.K.? It’s something we’ve been trying to pinpoint for years, but we’re just not quite there, yet. Maybe one day…” This is a pretty clear explanation: legally, no one company among these entities has been very sure which among them holds the rights to issue a USA home video license for this program. It’s something for the lawyers to sort out…eventually. In the meantime, there’s not a whole lot anyone can do until they get this figured out.

    G.I. Joe (1990 version produced by DiC)

    The 1984 series produced by Sunbow is now entirely on DVD thanks to Shout! Factory, and the 1987 production of G.I. Joe: The Movie will be re-released by them shortly (7/27/2010) on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Some fans of the franchise consider the 1990 series produced by DiC Entertainment to be a continuation of the Sunbow program, and wonder whether it will make it to DVD. Note that DiC (which was absorbed by Cookie Jar Entertainment in 2008) does NOT own the rights to that production; Hasbro does. Shout!’s upcoming release of G.I. Joe: The Movie fulfills all of the current Hasbro licenses they were given; Hasbro has not licensed the DiC Joe to Shout! (neither have the licensed Jem, or Transformers: the Movie, or Inhumanoids, Visionaries or classic My Little Pony for that matter…at least at the time of this writing). So it’s as simple as that: Shout! has no rights to the the DiC program at this time. Rumors are that Hasbro does not think there is a big enough fan base for the DiC series, and that it represents a lesser quality production compared to the Sunbow-produced show, and plus more iterations of the Joe franchise on the market at the same time might confuse more casual customers. Could Shout! still possibly release it down the road? Sure, and the studio is kicking it around a bit with Hasbro (and with DiC/Cookie Jar, for whatever clearances they would need to provide)…but it’s still a longshot at this point. We’ve been asked if Shout! could release it as one of their online-exclusive DVD titles, instead of a general release. Yes, that’s a possibility, too, we’re sure…and Shout! is certainly aware of that as an option. Keep in mind, however, that whatever a number of fans want to believe about the DiC show being a “continuation” of the Sunbow show, Shout!’s DVD producer Brian Ward has passed along that Hasbro does NOT consider it so…therefore that is not leverage which will get the rights-holders (Hasbro) to budge on any of the other obstacles.

  6. Michael December 22, 2010 at 8:08 am #

    Hi – I found your site via your post on DVDizzy.com. I was hoping that you might be able to help me out with Disney TV specials from the 80s that I’m trying to collect. In particular, I’m looking for the Disney World 4th of July Spectaculars from the late 80s/early 90s. I was able to locate a copy of the 1988 version, but I remember watching all of these each year when I was young. They showed the various parks in detail; and since we weren’t able to go to Disney World, I used to live vicariously though these specials. I have a few things I could trade with you if you’re interested. Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated. I’m happy to find another 80s Disney fan!

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