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Bad Old TV

November 26, 2008

Back in the days before DVD boxed sets … hell, back before VHS home recorders, TV producers didn’t imagine that you’d ever see their product again. TV shows were meant to be shown once, maybe twice, perhaps, in a long shot, in syndication. And those shows were watched on TVs with the kind of picture quality that made you really squint to see how much the price tag read on Minnie Pearl’s hat.

But then came digital remastering, and DVD, and HD, and Blu-Ray, and we’re watching all those old shows again, and we’re all saying “wow, they really didn’t care about special effects back then, did they?”

Case in point: I am watching Walking Tall: The Complete Series, the DVD set of the short-lived 1981 series spun off from the movies. Bo Svenson plays Sheriff Buford Pusser, a real-life cop hero. It isn’t a bad show, but it isn’t a great show. I think it was just too smart and too advanced while being marketed as a Dukes of Hazzard sort of thing. It lasted just seven episodes, which means it fits on two DVDs. I’ve always been a fan of the original Walking Tall movie (the remake with The Rock was okay, the one with Hercules bit nut hard), but I’ve never seen the series.

So in the opening sequence of the first episode, a kid goes wild on PCP and drives in an unlawful fashion. The shots of the runaway car show us that (a) the car is equipped with roll bars and (b) the driver looks nothing like the actor playing the kid, and is in fact old and fat.

Example: I have the first season of Knight Rider on DVD. Do you know how they made the car drive itself? A simple trick. The driver’s seat was removed, and the stunt driver sat in its place, wearing a “seat suit” over his body with a peephole to see. It fooled us in 1983. Not on DVD. You can see it clear as a whistle.

Think this has gotten better? Nope.

Example: Every Star Trek fight scene. And that hasn’t worn off; I’ve just watched the latest HD trailer for the new movie, and if you stop it at the Sulu fight scene, you clearly see that the guy in the sword fight isn’t John Cho.

Anyway, I like watching the old shows, and I like seeing all the flaws. I like it when the back yard actually shifts under the Brady kids’ feet. I like the idea that Gilligan’s radio never runs out of batteries, and the Howells, apparently brought all their money with them in trunks. I like how the Duke boys never had to adjust their suspension, ever. It’s part of the fun.

Oh, I just noticed that a really young Eric Stoltz buys some drugs on this episode of Walking Tall. The drug dealer is Freddy Krueger. And the young deputy later played Griff on Married With Children. Now that’s a CV.

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One comment

  1. My two favorite Star Trek scenes of this nature are Kirk’s fight with Kahn in Space Seed, and the Sickbay fight in Mirror, Mirror. The stunt men look nothing like the actors, and in Mirror, Mirror Spock’s double is actually wearing green makeup.



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