Friday, January 18, 2019

Old Videotape Causes TV Nostalgia

Back when VCRs became popular in the 1980s, I was like a kid in a candy store. The idea that I could videotape a show on TV when I wasn’t home and then watch it at my convenience was, in my mind, the greatest invention since glazed crullers. Every day I would study the TV Guide and set the VCR to record a movie, sporting event, sitcom, documentary, infomercial, farm report, test pattern, or other exciting program. Then I would put a label on the tape, carefully noting exactly what entertainment extravaganza was contained therein.

Every time I went near a retail store, I would stop by and purchase another 10-pack of blank VHS tapes. I kept this up for many years and by the mid-1990s I had a massive library of recorded TV programs. There was only one problem: between all the time I devoted to planning and recording shows, plus the time I spent dealing with the other things of life — such as work, sleep, raising kids, mowing the driveway, shoveling the lawn, etc. — there was no time left to actually watch any of the tapes I recorded.

After about a decade it finally dawned on me that I was wasting my time. From that point on, I only bothered to record really monumental events, such as the final game of the World Series if the Red Sox won, plus any episode of “Maury” that promises to disclose who the real father is. (Ha, I’m kidding. EVERY episode of “Maury” follows that format — which means every episode needs to be recorded and archived at the Smithsonian, so future generations will understand why our civilization collapsed.)

Anyway, while doing a major basement clean-up a couple years ago, I threw out most of the old videotapes. But I did save a few. And just recently I sat down to watch an old tape from what turned out to be 1988. At first, I wasn’t sure of the year. The tape was a Red Sox game, and I had a feeling it was still the 1980s because Roger Clemens was slim and Jim Rice was in the lineup. (What? You don’t memorize Red Sox minutiae? What are you wasting your precious brain cells on, the names and birth dates of your kids?)

The most interesting thing about the videotape turned out to be the commercials. I realized the baseball game occurred in 1988 when an ad between innings offered a “sneak peek” at the new ‘89 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. (Also, the game announcer provided a hint when he said, “The Red Sox hope to stay healthy down the stretch and win the 1988 pennant.”)

I found myself fast-forwarding through the game action (even after three decades I can only take so much of seeing Bob Stanley give up back-to-back doubles) so I could watch, and laugh at, the commercials. Although the decade of the 1980s should receive some kind of fashion award — simply for not being the 1970s — the hair and clothing were kind of interesting. Especially the hair.

All the men in the commercials had high, poofy hair, which clearly had been carefully brushed and blow-dried for at least two hours. I suspect any global warming we are experiencing now was caused, not by SUVs and coal-fired power plants, but by men using hair dryers in the 1980s.

The eyeglasses were even funnier. The lenses were so huge back then, it looked like everyone had a couple of bay windows perched on his or her nose.

I wish I hadn’t thrown out my collection of tapes. Despite the funny fashions, it was more interesting than anything on TV today — except, of course, for the next paternity test episode of “Maury.”

No comments:

Post a Comment