On Watching Old Television

Like millions of Americans, come February I’m going to need a digital converter box to watch television when the analog signals go silent. Last spring I submitted a request for a coupon for the box, and on Memorial Day I went out to Best Buy and bought one, hooked it up, and entered the digital television world.

I watch very little televisioin. I’m not sure that with the digital converter box I’ll be watching much more. The first thing I noticed, after hooking up the box and getting it configured, was that the picture was rock solid and sharp. The second thing I noticed was that most stations now had three or four different channels. Channel 2, for instance, now had Channel 2-1, Channel 2-2, and Channel 2-3. The PBS stations had a Spanish language channel in addition to the “regular” channel. For most of these stations, the extra channel was simply a place for a doppler weather radar and headline news.

A few Sundays ago, I was flipping through the channels, and I discovered that one channel, WJLA out of DC, showed old television shows from the 1960’s and 1970’s on one of their “spare” channels. I was intrigued by what they were showing, a sitcom called Operation Petticoat. Wasn’t that a film that starred Cary Grant? I thought. But here was a sitcom starring John Astin. I gave it a shot, and I was amused.

It’s about a pink Navy submarine, on various missions, while carrying a bunch of Army nurses and getting into various scrapes. Other than Astin and Jamie Lee Curtis, I don’t know any of the other actors in the show. I don’t imagine it lasted long; Wikipedia mentions that it existed and little else. I certainly have no nostalgic memories of the show. The sub interiors look fine, if a bit clean. Anything back projected looks terrible as you might expect. For something made in the late 70’s, it’s adequate. John Astin’s always fun to watch.

They also show Airwolf on the weekends. I’ll have to remember that. Though with my luck, right now they’re in the middle of the Barry Van Dyke era. 😆

Old television shows never die. They just get shunted off to weird stations no one ever watches because they’re cheap to buy.

3 thoughts on “On Watching Old Television

  1. That’s interesting about the multi-channels within a channel. Is this going to happen with all televisions? Apparently, I don’t need to get this converter, according to my cable system, as they have it all covered.

    Operation Petticoat actually lasted two years, or one and a half, if my memory serves me correctly. It was based on the movie and continued their adventures. I seem to remember it was on Saturday nights on ABC and NBC tried their hand at a similar show starring Don Rickles called CPO Sharkey. For a moment I had forgotten about Operation Petticoat and thought you were actually referring to Petticoat Junction when you mentioned Curtis and that would be impossible as she was way too young when that show was on the air.

  2. I have an antenna, so I needed the converter box, and I don’t know if people connected to cable will get the additional channels. My parents have DirecTV, and they don’t receive the additional over-the-air channels. You may want to check with your cable company. I tried a Google search to see, but I don’t even know what I’m looking for. 🙂

    As for Operation Petticoat, the sitcom, the thing that stood out for me the most is that networks just wouldn’t do something like that today. Maybe they think audiences wouldn’t or couldn’t relate to the situations or the characters. I’m a sucker for anything naval, I love Kelsey Grammer’s Down Periscope, so watching this was right up my alley.

  3. HD TV, HD Radio. There are so many “in between” channels it’s like the venerable CB radio meets sideband all over again.

    How is the cropping of the ‘widescreen’ digital image on a square NTSC monitor?

    P.S. – You can catch the earlier Airwolf episodes anytime on this site:

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