Unfortunately, we didn't tape the show, because airing on Channel 5 at the same time was a late movie, the 1972 mystery-thriller Sleuth. Starring Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier, it was probably recorded at my mother's behest, and although I know it has a fantastic reputation (8.1/10 on IMDb and 96% "fresh" at Rotten Tomatoes), I've never sat down and watched it, partly because I know how it turns out.
It is on YouTube in two parts if you feel like watching it. But what we're here for are the commercials from the 1981 broadcast! This was captured on tape A4, directly after the Richard Pryor SNL. Here are the ad breaks from the first half:
The Cuisinart spot ("tell her she's the best by giving her the best food processor") isn't the height of enlightened feminism, and I'd forgotten about Celeste's "Abbondanza Pizza For One". Before it got into the Monopoly business, McDonald's had a $10 million Build A Big Mac giveaway. And our family did most of its grocery shopping at Lucky (the rest was at Safeway), but we didn't listen to KYUU or KSFX radio much.
There's some unexpected Beatle content in there too, as Evening Magazine took a look at the psychedelic Beatle Bentley. John Lennon's custom-painted Rolls-Royce is far more famous, but unsurprisingly, there's a whole website dedicated to the Bentley. I'm sure if I had seen this ad at the time, we would have recorded the Evening Magazine segment.
On to the ads from the second half of the film:
There sure were a lot of obscure vitamins for sale in 1981 (Plus 74A and Allbee C-800), and neither Fish Ahoy cat food nor Chardón jeans are still around. Jack In The Box was "blowing up its clowns" in an attempt to project a more upscale image, I suppose.
One thing you don't see much of anymore is an advertiser running two different spots for the same product over the course of a show - in this case, a sad sack in search of Miracle Whip and Donny and Marie going Hawaiian. Finally, that's quite a week Gary Collins has ahead on Hour Magazine, covering incest, the dangers of tampons, Loni Anderson, Jerry Lewis, and aquatic tots!
Fortunately, we did record the following week's SNL rerun, because it may be the best episode in the show's history... I'll have a lot to say about that next time.