TV Guide, 1984-Style


One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2011 was to read more. To wit, I unearthed an issue of TV Guide from 1984 that had unjustly sat in a packed-up cardboard box in the basement for the past decade or so. Don’t get me wrong, I bought that thing on purpose when I was 15 or so. I grew up an obsessive, nostalgia-driven TV and music freak, and I found stuff like old issues of TV Guide to be fascinating pop-culture artifacts. I just thought I grew out of it a long time ago.

Truth be told, I just spent an hour looking through that old TV Guide, and I’m here to report on my findings. On the cover, the Winter Olympics. Nothing too fancy. Cover price: 50 cents. But open it up, and there are highlights everywhere:

    Page A-7 — A two-paged Let’s Review the Facts ad from R.J. Reynolds tobacco that says, “Studies which conclude that smoking causes disease have regularly ignored scientific evidence to the contrary.” There are probably a dozen cigarette ads scattered through the rest of the magazine, all featuring beautiful, white-teethed, active people whose lives are enhanced by nicotine and tar. Just typing all this makes me want to go smoke.


    Page A-24 — Listings for NBC’s powerhouse Saturday sitcom lineup of “Diff’rent Strokes,” “Silver Spoons,” “We Got it Made” and “Mama’s Family.” Three of the four were in regular syndication when I was a kid, but I only ever saw one TBS rerun of “We Got it Made” in a hotel room during a vacation one time when I was like 13. It’s about maids in a hotel so, you know, the title is kinda like a play on words.

    Page A-74 — The joy of realizing I could’ve watched a brand new “Scarecrow and Mrs. King” is coupled with the pain of realizing that in 1984, Nickelodeon ceased programming at 7 pm. This was a cable world pre-Nick at Nite. Horrifying.

    Page A-120 — A two-page ad spread for the Rotation-Freedom Diet, which didn’t actually admit they “made false, misleading, and unsubstantiated claims in advertising” until 2006, after marketing the diet under six other names. You gotta admit that’s a pretty good reign of diet-fraud terror, and it’s preserved right here in the old TV Guide I’m about to get rid of.

Twenty-seven years you lasted, issue of TV Guide packed in a box in my basement. That’s a run that could rival even the Rotation-Freedom Diet people.

I searched online just now in attempts to find cover art for this issue, from February 4-10, 1984. I couldn’t find any JPEGs, but I did find another copy of this TV Guide on sale for $14. Which, to be honest, is a freaking bargain. If my wife wasn’t so willing and able to kick my ass, I’d get a backup copy so I could have one on each floor of my house.

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