(Television History and Trivia)




Victor Edward Swanson,


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- - - T.H.A.T., Edition No. 8 - - -

    Since the Internet is an international entity and since people from anywhere in the world can reach the main Web site of The Hologlobe Press and all the secondary pages of the Web site, I have to start this edition of T.H.A.T. with four paragraphs that give general information about the television industry in the U.S.A., which often is only referred to as the U.S.  The information should help people who are unfamiliar with the television industry in the U.S. understand how the television industry has become what it is today, and, of course, the people who are unfamiliar with the television industry in the U.S. can be people who are citizens of the country and can be people who are not.  The information will also make it easier for people to understand previous editions of T.H.A.T. and the editions of T.H.A.T. that will follow this edition.

    Before 1946, what few television stations existed in the country were stand-alone entities, and, mostly, what programming the stations put over the air or broadcast was generated by the stations.  In 1946, the first broadcast television networks appeared.  The networks were companies that produced or acquired programming that was then fed down coaxial lines (of telephone companies, such as AT&T) to affiliates, and the programming was fed at various times of the day; for instance, a couple stations could be affiliated with the same network, which fed the stations a block of programming in the evening (maybe a block of programming that was about three-hours or four-hours long).  Between 1946 and the early 1970s, the country had as a rule three nationally distributed commercial broadcast television networks that provided programming to commercial broadcast television stations (commercial  broadcast television stations are allowed by federal law to air commercials or advertisements), and the three networks referred to were ABC-TV, CBS-TV, and NBC-TV, all of which exist today.  (This document will not tell the story about two other commercial broadcast television networks that existed in the period, one of which was called DuMont, which existed in the late 1940s and early 1950s).  Between about 1950 and the early 1970s, the country also had some television stations that were considered "educational stations" (between about 1950 and the late 1960s) and then "non-commercial television stations" or "public television stations" (between the late 1960s and the early 1970s); in the late 1960s, PBS was created, and PBS became a national network of sorts that fed programming to public television stations and that replaced NET, an existing educational television network.  Between 1949 and the early 1970s, the country had CATV systems (or Community Antenna Television systems), each of which was an entity that picked up (such as with a big antenna) the television signal of a television station or the television signals of more than one television station and distributed the signal or signals by coaxial cable to homes in a community that no television signals could reach.
    In the early 1970s, more types of television entities or services started to be added to what the television industry was, and the industry was broadcast television stations (some commercial and some non-commercial), ABC-TV, CBS-TV, NBC-TV, and PBS, and  numerous CATV systems.  The first "cable networks" or "cable channels" were started in the early 1970s, and these entities were created to feed programming, such as somewhat new theatrical movies and live sporting events, to CATV systems, which were now more commonly called "cable systems"; in other words, cable systems began to carry more than only the the signals of television stations.  In the early 1980s, some people in the country began to see television programming that was distributed by satellite, receiving the programming through satellite dishes that where set up at their residences, and it was in the 1980s that the distributing of programming by satellite to television stations (by television networks) and to cable systems (by cable networks and others) became commonplace; however, using satellites to distribute programming had started in the 1970s, and some of the first entities to send out programming by satellite to cable companies, which then used their coaxial lines to fed programing to homes, were CBN (or the Christian Broadcasting Network) and Showtime.  In the early 1990s, the modern age of direct-to-home-by-satellite television began; then, it became possible for direct-to-home-by-satellite businesses to now feed television programming to many more people around the country, because receiving dishes became smaller, going from, for instance, six feet in diameter to a little less than two feet in diameter.
    Today, the country has commercial broadcast television stations that are not affiliated with any main network, commercial broadcast television stations that are affiliated with at least one main network, non-commercial broadcast television stations that are associated with at least one non-commercial broadcast television network, cable systems (or cable companies), and companies that distribute programming to people with satellite dishes (receiving dishes), and the main commercial broadcast television networks are ABC-TV, CBS-TV, Fox TV, NBC-TV, UPN, and The WB, and PBS is the main non-commercial broadcast television network, and there are other non-commercial broadcast networks, and hundreds of companies operate networks or channels that are designed to provide programming to cable companies and direct-to-home-by-satellite companies (and almost never to television stations directly), and some of those entities are ABC Family, BET, CNN, Discovery, ESPN, Fox News Channel, Galavision, HBO, Independent Film Channel, Jewelry Television, Lifetime, The Movie Channel, Nickelodeon, Outdoor Life Network, QVC, RFD, Speed, TNT, USA, VH1, WE, and YES.
    Here are five additional thoughts.  Some television stations are full-power stations, which can be considered regular television stations, and some television stations are low-power stations, which have smaller broadcast ranges than full-power television stations have.  Cable systems and direct-to-home-by-sallellite companies distribute signals of broadcast television stations and cable networks or cable channels.   Some cable networks or cable channels are distributed nationally, and some cable networks or cable channels are distributed only regionally.  Since the late 1990s, the television industry has been going through a transition, going from analog in nature to digital in nature, and High Definition TV (or HDTV) is one form of digital television.  The federal government has set up some laws that people involved in the television industry must follow, but, generally speaking, the federal government is not directly involved in determining what types of programs are made and offered to viewers.

    And that's the primer.

    Let me note something about the Detroit area (Michigan).  In the early 1960s, the Detroit area had these television stations--WJBK-TV (Channel 2), which was a CBS-TV affiliate; WWJ-TV (Channel 4), which was an NBC-TV affiliate; WXYZ-TV (Channel 7), which was an ABC-TV affiliate; and WTVS-TV (Channel 56), which was an educational station.  Also, people who lived in the Detroit area could receive the television signal of a television station that was based in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, which is across the Detroit River from Detroit; the station was CKLW-TV (Channel 9).  What was great about CKLW-TV was it aired programming from CBC-TV, a Canadian broadcast television network, and some programming that was made in England.
     In the early 1960s, I was able to see Supercar on CKLW-TV.  Supercar was a weekly program that was filmed and featured puppets.  Mike Mercury was the main character, and he piloted Supercar.  Another character was the Professor, who usually sat at the control center when Mike Mercury was flying in Supercar.  I think Supercar was a likable show, and I think it still is, and I think it is a good show for children and adults to see.  Maybe, you saw the program when you were young.  Maybe, you remember one of the members of the Supercar team was a doctor (the doctor was not a medical doctor).  He was bald, and he may or may not have worn glasses.
    It is time for questions about Supercar.  What was the full name of the doctor?  There was a boy in show.  The boy and his brother had to be rescued from a raft out at sea in the pilot program.  What was the full name of the boy?  What was the name of the boy's pet, a monkey?  And near what city was Supercar based?

    In the previous edition of T.H.A.T., I talked about Tena Tidy and Nick Neat and the 1986 syndicated movie in which the characters appeared.  The movie was called Neat and Tidy: Adventures Beyond Belief.  Jill Whitlow played Tena Tidy, and Skyler Cole played Nick Neat.  Elke Sommer played Headmistress Bruno Von Kleff, who ran the conservatory.  And Stella Stevens played Loretta Kimble.  In the movie, Tena was trying to find Loretta Kimble, who was Tena's mom, and Nick was on the run--for some reason (the reason for which I will not pass along and give away the plot).

    The previous edition of T.H.A.T. talked about two made-for-TV movies that had the same title.  The movie in which Richard Tyson played a pilot looking for a medical missionary was entitled Last Flight Out, and Bobbie Phillips played the medical missionary.  In the 1990 movie entitled Last Flight Out, Richard Crenna played Dan Hood.

    By the way, you might remember Bobbie Phillips played "Kam" in three made-for-TV movies: Chameleon (which was shown on UPN on October 22, 1998), Chameleon II: Death Match (which was shown on UPN on October 15, 1999), and Chameleon III: Dark Angel (which was shown on UPN on May 19, 2000).

    I noted in the previous edition of T.H.A.T. how the using of titles for TV-movies that have already been used is becoming a "monster."  The movie about a monster that was shown on UPN on November 12, 1994, was called Monster!  And I told you in the previous edition of T.H.A.T. that the "monster" was back.  That monster was Frankenstein.  On October 5 and October 6 (of 2004), The Hallmark Channel aired another version of the "Frankenstein" story, and it was entitled Frankenstein.  The USA Network aired a movie called Frankenstein on October 10, 2004, but the movie was not a retelling of the traditional "Frankenstein" story--it was a murder tale involving such characters as Victor Helios, Detective Michael Sloane, Detective Carson O'Connor, and Deucalion (the monster).

    I hope you found this edition of T.H.A.T. to be--as a character in Supercar might describe it--"Satisfactory, most satisfactory."  I shall have much more fun in the next edition of T.H.A.T.  For instance, I shall talk about More, Wild, Wild West, in which James West and Artemus Gordon set out to foil Albert Paradine II, who planned to take over the world using invisibility as a cover.  Who played Albert Paradine II?  Who played Juanita, James West's girlfriend in Mexico?  The actress who played Mirabelle caught my eye.  Who played Mirabelle?  Some of the other performers in this "production" were Harry Morgan (who played "Skinny" Malone), Victor Buono (who played Dr. Messenger), Rene Auberjonois (who played Sir David Edney), Dr. Joyce Brothers, and Jack La Lanne.  No, this "production" was not originally shown as a made-for-TV movie, but maybe you have seen this 1980 sequel to The Wild, Wild West television series (of the 1960s) in what seems to be made-for-TV form.  Now, you should think to yourself: "Curious, most curious."

Stay well!


Date: November 10, 2004

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