Thursday, August 15, 2013

Great Scott

On the afternoon of Monday, March 30th, 1981, I was on a class field trip to a local park. A group of students and a couple of teachers were seated in a circle on the grass when a long-haired and slightly dazed looking fellow approached. This was no unusual sight in Berkeley, but when he blurted out "They just shot the President!" and ran off, our teachers assured us not to listen to the lunatic.

When we got back to school and found out it was true, I think the rest of the day was spent discussing the situation and listening for news updates on the radio. I don't think they had the TV on (perhaps to spare us from a Jack Ruby-type situation), but that night my father recorded a movie on KBHK, channel 44, and sure enough, it's preceded by a news update on the shooting.

The anchor, Edwina Moore, later went on to have a minor acting career - I was surprised to see her in 1988's The Naked Gun as the usher who cues Enrico Palazzo's entrance.

The movie was Petulia, directed by Dick Lester (Beatles connection) and starring George C. Scott. Somewhere around this time (date unknown, but directly following Sleuth on tape A4), my father taped the 1971 film The Hospital, also starring George C. Scott. Although he was a Scott fan, his real interest in these films were the leading ladies - Julie Christie in Petulia and Diana Rigg in The Hospital, both favorites of his since the late 60's.

While he paused the commercial breaks on The Hospital, Petulia has all the original ads and news segments. Let's take a look at them, from tape A2 just after 20/20:

I had forgotten that the assassination attempt postponed that night's Oscar ceremony until the following evening. 

I also don't remember a few of the products here. Super Plenamins? I was thrilled to see the Oakland A's "Year of the Uniform" spot, as this was the season that made me a baseball fan, despite the mid-year strike, and the '81 A's still hold a special place in my heart (more on them in future posts). Also glad to see Round Table Pizza Cap Day, as I loved eating there (they showed cartoons!).

It's fun to see some TV clich├ęs were alive and well, such as "Now how much would you pay?" in the LustreWare ad, and stupid characters falling for the "Do you still use Good Seasons?" "Not anymore!" "Whaaaaat?" "We use new, improved Good Seasons!" trope. In general, there's not much that is dated about these commercials, apart from JJ "Dynomite" Walker declaring "I got this heavy date with this chick on Saturday night", but even that was a few years old by 1981.

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