In my attempt to chart the uncharted wilds of the Roku box, I believe I have uncovered my absolute favorite, oddball, third-party, free channel!
If you are unfamiliar with the Roku set top box, check out their site or read some of my articles on this wondrous device. Briefly, it’s a small, set-top device that carries content from the internet and streams it to your television. I would say that it’s the future of television, but the future is here, and it’s really the present of TV which does a great job of serving up the past…
There are a number of major league, official channels such as Netflix, Amazon or HBONow which offer up entertainment on demand for the price of a monthly subscription fee, but more interesting to me are the oddball freebie channels of which nobody has heard. Mostly these channels are created by little dreamers who want to make a buck running advertisements accompanying public domain movies, or want to spread a particular gospel or are obsessed with something arcane like regional wrestling or NollyWood films. In some cases, a company may have some licensed properties lying around and figures they may as well throw them out there and collect some rent.
I think that may be the case with Pro Classic TV. I’m not sure why I originally added this free station to my Roku. It may have been for the Gigantor episodes or possibly Bob “Batman” Kane’s other creation, Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse. I don’t really remember. Otherwise, there seems to be a lot of ho-hum television shows that used to be on while you were waiting for something you really wanted to see. They were the kind of shows that always seemed to be on UHF television when I called out sick from school back in the ’70s.
Then I started watching Celebrity Bowling.
It’s a perfect time capsule of a particular era. A little research shows that the program ran from 1971 to 1978, but the episodes on Pro Classic TV are from early in the run. I would say 1971 to 72. A cavalcade of stars tossing balls down the lanes — down and outters, up and comers and people who could not stay off of TV at the time. Adam West, William Shatner, Roy Rogers, Peter Lupus, Arte Johnson, Lana Wood, Julie London, Ernest Borgnine, The Brady Bunch, The Lennon Sisters and many more. A lot of the celebrities were terrible bowlers and I wonder if they were cursing their agents, but some of them were surprisingly decent at the sport. Pete from The Mod Squad — who knew?
The celebrity teams would bowl against each other in order to win audience members fabulous prizes! Just showing up won a gift certificate from a Spigel’s catalog, but you had to be a professional bowler to score the Vega.
The episodes stream one after another and I found myself whiling away an evening watching show business people trying to pick up spares. It was fascinating.It felt like the old Mike Douglas Show with many of the same guests, but none of the singing or interviews. It’s just folks of some renown bowling.
Unlike a lot of the ad sponsored programming on the Roku, Pro Classic TV doesn’t mercilessly hammer the viewer with commercials. A couple before the show and that’s it.
I’m not sure about availability on the other streaming boxes, but if you have a Roku, get ProClassicTV!