Here are three old television shows that changed my life. No no no, you don't understand...in the old days before satellite and cable, we were lucky to get anything remotely off the beaten path...Why the hell do you think we were so wound up about Saturday Night Live and SCTV during the seventies? To (kinda) experience these underpraised classics, follow the links!
Every era worth it's salt has it's great horror movie host. In the 50's, Vampira was skewering poverty-row horror flicks...in the 60's, Zacherly and Ghoulardi were supposedly good (never saw them, but their fans are RABID). For the young Reverend Dan, Seymour was diety of choice back in the early seventies. Wearing his trademark wide-brimmed hat and black cape, he would saunter onto his cheesy horror movie host set (fog, gray bricks covered with green moss. whatever cheap props that could salvage from wherever), he would welcome us "Fringies" to the evenings program, and then insult us for tuning in to such garbage. Gaunt as hell, sarcastic, and with a sense of humor so knowingly lowbrow, the show was a celebration of "Look what we're getting away with tonight!" At Knott's Berry Farm's first Halloween Haunt, Seymour was the featured star, and I made damn sure to get a good seat. When my hero walked on stage I was in awestruck. I did manage to yell out "Where's Banjo Billy?", a reference to Seymour's nemisis (who was also portrayed by Larry Vincent). Seymour stopped in mid-sentence, looked right at me and snarled into the mike "None of your buisiness!" which cracked up the crowd and made me the happiest bastard on the planet at that moment.
Jay Ward, the genius responsible for Crusader Rabbit, Hoppity Hooper and the transendental Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons, created this irreverent yet reverent (don't ask me how he did it, he's a genius) tribute to silent movies. Fractured Flickers slapped together various silent movie clips (some clips featuring stars like Stan Laurel, Harry Langdon and Lon Chaney. Tons of newreel and stock footage was tossed into the salad as well), and then goofy jokes and plots were written into the resulting short, all then voiced by voice-over stars Paul Frees and June Foray, among others. Hosted by Hans Conreid, Fractured Flickers gave creedence to the notion that things could be stupid as hell, yet hilarious and brilliant at the same time. Clicking on Hans face will take you to a Video Vault page of the amazing tvparty.com website. There you can view some streaming video clips of the program. Be sure to explore all of tvparty.com!
This program was a goddamn miracle..pure and simple. Charmingly low-tech, NWT broadcast cutting-edge punk rock over a station that usually programmed foriegn language shows for its viewing audience...KSCI 18. Hosted by cult rock here Peter Ivers (Jello Biafra's a BIG fan of his music), the show was a chaotic blend of intense punk rock performance, media collage assault (great use of stock footage...bombs, buddahs, brain surgury, nasa animations...), art school earnestness and a crash and burn mentality towards pushing the envelope of entertainment. All the great L.A. punk bands would play, with out of town bands dropping by occasionally. Ivers would open and close each show staring into the camera, dropping the shades resting on his (rather high) forhead down to cover his eyes as he began reading a stream of consciousness ramble about good, evil, art and/or baloney. At the end of each bands performance, he would run on stage and ask "What's the meaning of life?" Some answers I recall: Top Jimmy of the Rhythm Pigs, after stumbling over and crashing into the drum kit:"Don't take uhp...whissskey drinnkenn." Lee Ving of the band Fear:"The secret of of life to be gay all the way." Paul Cutler (of 45 Grave) held up a Heino record. Keith Morris of the Circle Jerks refused to answer and instead plowed the band into another song. Click on Peters face to visit a page at the great tvparty.com (trust me, you're gonna spend HOURS here), where you can read and see more about this little bit of UHF heaven from the early eighties.