Tuesday, June 21, 2005

MH - Out of the Past

Well, it's time for another trip into the TV Guide archives. Let's see what we come up with this time.

It's the issue of August 26, 1972. There's an article about Bobby Darin and his new television show - interesting, in light of having seen Beyond the Sea last month. Although the TV series wasn't covered in the movie, there's nothing in this article that particularly contradicts anything depicted in the film (although it does mention that he actually divorced Sandra Dee and was living with another woman at the time of the interview).

Then there's an article called "Hitchhiking on the Road to Success," about a "young would-be director" named "Steve Spielberg." That's right, the Steven Spielberg, with long hair and minus the beard. He's an experience TV director, coming off the fame from his TV movie Duel, but at this point hasn't even made a big-screen movie. The question raised in the article: "Why does every television director, with access to 50 or 60 million peiople, still yearn for a movie feature that might reach five million if it's a smash hit?" I guess "Steve" answered that question, didn't he?

For those of you interested in obscure sports, there's the weekly series covering the Bobby Fischer-Boris Spassky world chess championship (on PBS, of course). Hard to remember now just what a sensation this was at the time - the Cold War transported to a chess board. It offers us a glimpse of the eccentric Fischer, perhaps the Howard Hughes of the sports world, a brilliant champion whose life since seems to have devolved into one erratic, oddball encounter after another.

Finally, it's the opening of the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. The opening ceremonies are telecast live at 9:00 a.m. Central time on Saturday morning (imagine TV doing that nowadays). However, the most interesting thing is this eerie paragraph at the conclusion of the article previewing TV coverage of the games:
The atmosphere surrounding the Games should be thick with Bavarian Gemutlichkeit. A German Olympic official has promised, "We know only too well that crimes have been committed in the German name, and how many people have suffered . . . These Olympics will be what they are supposed to be: the great meeting of the youth of the world; of the new, hopefully enlightened generation; and thus a small contribution to world peace."

I imagine in the chaos that followed - the hostage taking, the massacre of the Israeli athletes, the shootout at the airport, Jim McKay's memorable marathon coverage of the tragedy - not very many people recalled this paragraph, and thus its impact is greater to us today, knowing as we do what will be happening in the days to come. This issue - an original cultural document - has a timelessness, a sense of context, that is often missing in the dry words of a history book written long after the fact.

Cultural history, from the pages of TV Guide.

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