BJ – Like BJ Thomas, Right?

Bj-and-the-BearAs I wrote last week, we had cable television in Southern New Jersey in the late 1970s so we did not have to suffer the garbage that the broadcast networks were airing in lieu of genuine entertainment. We were probably watching an uncut movie on HBO. The people in the city of Philadelphia at that time were not as lucky. Cable would not arrive until nearly the end of the 1980s so on the night of March 22, 1980 they were stuck with broadcast, crappy reception and the awesome spectacle that was BJ and the Bear.

Looking back I wonder if broadcast television executives realized that they were careening towards their own irrelevancy by green-lighting such crap. Did they not take cable seriously? Shows like this were patchwork quilts of borrowed ideas from successful movies that the kids would like. The show featured truckers which were popular thanks to the AM Top 40 hit Convoy, Burt Reynolds movie Smokey and the Bandit and a primate sidekick just like Every Which Way But Loose.

Crappy show aside, it’s interesting that NBC saw fit to hire an illustrator and buy ad placement in newspapers to promote a fairly lame Saturday night lineup. Those days are gone. Nowadays, it seems that only ambulance chasers and pimps advertise on newsprint, and don’t get me started on the state of illustration!

DSCN0854This was another ad appearing in the March 22, 1980 issue of the Philadelphia Daily News. I wrote about this particular issue earlier and while the mob intrigue is fascinating, what really interests me is the newspaper being a snapshot of another time and place. Philadelphia is a different place than it was 33 years ago. It’s amazing to leaf through the paper and look at the ads for places, people and businesses that have long since gone.

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