Sunday, October 01, 2006

UHF

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UHF...a forgotten term in today's tangled mass of cables, digital signals, and optic fiber instant imaging.
UHF, which stands for Ultra High Frequency.
These days you can go the the mall, drop 20-30 bucks and get most of the TV series we watched when we were young. The ones that reran on local small market stations on the VHF and UHF "dials". With boxed sets, there's no commercials, no static when mom runs the vacuum, and no grainy 16 mm prints washing out the lush colors predominate in the 60s TV palette.
We don't have to record them with an audio cassette player now...they're perfectly recorded, in stereo, and neatly digitized on a disc for easy storage. No need to snap pictures with the Polaroid camera off the TV screen for a still...DVDs have perfect freeze frame capabilities and our computers can grab an image, and file it away for future reference.
So why bring up UHF you ask? Because in this day and age of DVD markets flooded with ever single series or obscure movie we ever saw, I noticed that the actual TV content is HORRIBLE. When a title is licensed for one avenue or the other, the other avenues suffer until their time comes.
i.e.-If you have a movie out in the theatres...say "Cars", you won't be putting it out on DVD at the same time because people will just buy the discs, stay at home and by pass the releasing studio denying them their wonderful profits. It's not because it's "not ready"...too many orders folks...no, it's called profit. Shake the rubes at the box office, shake 'em again in Walmart and Best Buy, shake'm again on cable....shake'm one more time when they decide to release a double disc set with crap they had from the beginning of production. Oh...and shake them one last time, saying "this is the last time this will be available on DVD" (Thank you Lucas and Disney).
So...if everything is on DVD...what's on TV? Mostly crap...reality shows, people in their swim suits eating bugs 'n sh*t...hack judges making or breaking people's singing dreams...and cops being followed around with a camera while trying to do their job.
BUT...there has been a glimmer of hope that has peeked out recently. Since the last resort for TV series is just reruns and DVD box sets, it seems the DVDs have run their course on many titles. There's is a slow reselling back to TV.
Monty Python's Flying Circus (which started here in Dallas.. FYI!) has been notorious for abandoning it's PBS roots as far back as the early 80s. It's first leap was cable, soon it ran to VHS and stayed there with an outrageous price tag for years. All the while PBS is giving us "Are You Being Served?" out the ying yang, and we're having to pay for a series that we adopted and saved from oblivion.
Well...how the mighty have "silly walked". Local PBS ch 13, the original home of Monty Python (circa 1974), has been showing Python again late on Saturday nights. From what I can see...which are boxed sets of the entire series sitting in Half Priced Books stores for a fraction of their asking price of $200...the sales have dropped off a bit. There are the odd PBS commercials, but other than that, it's over son. Now Python can get back on PBS and stay there. They've milked just about everything they can, in that department.
UHF....the subject of the post.
We have a local UHF station ch 52, that, since it's inception, has continued to impress me. If anybody knows the program director, tell him I owe him a beer. Early on 52 was showing "Addams Family" and "Mr. Ed"...recently they've gotten major marks for showing "the A-Team", "Kojack", "Magnum PI" and the capper..."The Twilight Zone". If I'm not mistaken, all of these are on DVD now...so why are they on UHF stations? These are the "small market" stations that don't really pose a threat to a tired DVD release. Basically, the license holders are double dipping and are hoping you don't notice. You buy the box set of Twilight Zone at Best Buy and get home to see it's on at 10:30 after "Married with Children"!
On the I channel, I've seen "Kung Fu", Green Acres", and "The Monkees". All on DVD...all double dipping. I'm hoping this is a trend.
Maybe now, TV will come back home and we can enjoy the effect of turning on a TV and seeing our favorite shows blaring into the room..like they use to. Maybe it can wash the image of Simon's smirking pie hole from the air waves and replace it with Telly Savalas' catch phrase, "who loves ya baby"?
I'm wondering if I should go back to Half Price Books and buy a box set of Monty Python?

Naw, I think I'll save the $60 and tape it....on my cassette recorder.

10 Comments:

Blogger allan cook said...

i am my own t.v. station...i own the 1st 5 seasons of andy griffith...all of land of the lost...all of lost in space.....couple of beaver seasons.......couple of roseanne and home improvement.....rifleman...bonanza.......box set of 50 public domain sci fi movies.....carnival of souls...the terror..etc.......i'm locked in my own closet......

12:38 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Amen.
I find it also very odd that there is something to be said for watching any of these programs on TV as well especially a localized smaller run station. I myself have been known to stock pile many of the new DVD sets especially on some of the more obscure programs but will also be completely entertained by seeing any of these in the rotation of the tube itself. I think it all comes back to the same situation as even though I own my favorite holiday specials such as Great Pumpkin and Rudolph but there is still something to be said for catching them when they air in their annual network time slot. I recently purchased a 5 inch black and white battery operated TV at Best Buy (as is out of the box for 10 bucks) and the first thing I found myself doing when I got it home was checking to see if I could find anything on the UHF band. God how I miss channel 68 from the NY/NJ area.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Riley said...

"God how I miss channel 68 from the NY/NJ area."
Was that the channel Uncle Floyd would air on? I got a DVD of Vivano's old stuff and am looking for more.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Smurfwreck said...

I can definitely see where you're coming from. I hate double dipping (Lucas is the freaking devil) but usually when it comes with threats of "putting it in the vault" like Disney does.

There is something to be said for owning a show on DVD though. When I was in middle school I would rush home every day to tape Robotech off of out local UHF station, channel 69 in Atlanta, GA. Of course one day I missed an episode, so I had to ask myself, do I wait till it cycles through to this particular episode again so I can get these all in sequence or do I just say screw it and put it on another tape. Being the anal little kid I was I waited and they never showed the first series again. I have not seen it on TV again since then and after a few years the VHS tapes I had started to deteriorate. You can buy the series for about $20 now on DVD, which to me is great. Back in the day you had to buy the VHS in three episode chunks for $20 a piece and it would have cost a fortune to get the series.

A few years ago I just said screw it and ditched paying for cable and have stuck to buying DVD's and it's been the happiest TV watching I've ever experienced.

The other thing I love about DVD is that companies are releasing shows that aren't in syndication and haven't been on in years like Brisco County, Transformers, Punky Brewster and SledgeHammer, stuff that hasn't enjoyed the Nick at Nite treatment.

9:31 AM  
Blogger chuck said...

The ONLY thing tv has going for it (anymore) is that they program it for you and cue it up for you. You just sit back, push the button, drool and pass flatus.

The show quality can suck, as long as the box is really easy to operate.
And "easy" is God. Or at least commercial ad space gold.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Terry said...

Channel 39 in Dallas is how I was introduced to a lot of TV classics such as Star Trek, Get Smart, Green Acres, etc. I think it's Telemundo now. For a while the local Fox and UPN affiliates here in Longview, Texas were carrying on that UHF tradition. They had "Sci-Fi Saturdays" where they played old movies with local commercials giving trivia on the films. At midnight on Saturday they ran "Macabre Theatre" a horror movie showcase hosted by Ivonna Cadaver and Butch Patrick out of L.A. They also ran some locally produced shows like "Street Dreams" about the local hip-hop scene. The more inventive programming has kinda gone away in the last couple of years but it was nice while it lasted.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Tohoscope said...

We need to have a good old fashioned horror host show on Saturday nights in Dallas. Maybe we could send some letters to ch 52 and demand one?
-d!

12:10 PM  
Blogger Chris Jart said...

Wow, I'm glad I'm not the only kid who sat in front of the tv with a tape recorder and told my family they had to be quiet during my show. None of my friends ever did that and thought I was weird because I did it.

Also the polaroid pics of the tv, ha! You had to try to time it just right to get the picture you wanted, although often you got someone in mid expression looking like they're doped up and half asleep. Or it would be lousy color with lines through it.

Ahhhhh, the good old days....

7:30 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Boy Riley you see how on the ball I am :) . Yes I think it was one of the many local stations that Uncle Floyd bounced around to.

3:13 PM  
Blogger johnenright said...

Taking a shot in the dark. I'm looking for a Tor Johnson mask, but not for Halloween. I'd like something life like. Can you help? Depending on price I might want to order a few. Please let me know as soon as possible, and thank you for your time and help.

John

9:37 AM  

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