70s TV for the youngsters

tv slbum cover

TV Album
Herz
1978

If you are under the age of 50 or so, you might not recognize some of these programs unless you got lucky in re-runs. This little paperback is made up of what looks like publicity stills and script summaries. It’s pretty much a “meh” choice in the late 1970s.

We have featured a bunch of these nonfiction tv profiles for kids. Check it out here, here, and here. They are basically all the same book. The author, Peggy Herz has written a bunch of books about television shows for the juvenile audience for Scholastic.

Mary

little house on the prairie

what's happening

8 is enough

star trek

Laverne and Shirley

welcome back kotter

The Waltons

 

23 comments

  1. I totally remember buying books just like this at the Scholastic Book Fair in 1977. At the time, it seemed to me that Peggy Herz had the most glamorous job in the world, meeting all the TV stars I watched every week!

    Now I realize she probably sat in a windowless room, writing captions and puffery based on stacks of photos that some production company dropped off…

  2. I was only around 4 when this book was in print but I do remember most of these shows. But instead of warm fuzzy nostalgia it just painfully reminds me of how horrible the world is now, is getting worse every day, and soon there might not even be a world left. Covid, WW3, racial tension, humans being more politically divided than ever. What’s the point of living in a world like this anymore? I know the world had problems back then too, but nothing as insane as this.

    1. Except for COVID-19, none of that is new. WW3 at the time would have much more likely involved a “nuclear exchange”; we are in an actual more-or-less NATO >< Russia shooting war and I don't think even the hawks are suggesting we use them. Racial tension was there – I am sure of that – now it is just being openly admitted by everyone as far from resolved and some serious misconduct is being recognized as actual crime. Polarization is harder for me to measure, but the crank with the bomb shelter who spent his rental income to hand out John Birch tracts is dead.

  3. I recognized the dude on the phone in the upper left as one of the firefighter/EMTs from “Emergency!”. My grand mother remembers meeting a couple of “The Waltons” IRL. I’ve heard of “Laverne and Shirley” but only because Gary Larson made fun of them a few times. Archive or booksale?

  4. I think I read this one at the time.

    Super-generic and cheapo, but back in the days before you could record a TV show or have access to infinite facts and photos, these did serve a purpose — though they dated so quickly.

    1. I only vaguely remember the episode where there was a moonshine still in a house that (of course) blew up but not before giving some lead poisoning!

  5. I was 12 in 1978 and most of these shows had been on for several years, e.g. The Waltons was in its sixth season. In those days I would’ve skimmed this library book but in my house most of these shows were unanimously rated as outright bad and unwatchable. In those days of having at most four channels to choose from, you took what you could get, so we watched the likes of Eight is Enough and Little House on the Prairie, but not without snark. The cover is interesting with the guy from Emergency looking like he’s just smoked a joint and is furtively calling his dealer, The Hardy Boys’ Shaun Cassidy’s eyes with their benzedrine glaze, and Lindsay Wagner in a hard hat, because representing women in non-traditional roles was actually prevalent at the time. The inclusion of Mr. Magoo, a 1960s series revived for one season in 1977, is evidence of how in those days kids’ entertainment was an afterthought of rehashes, reruns, and the networks’ obligatory Saturday morning lineups of a little bit of programming around a lot of commercials for cereal and toys.

  6. I had at least half a dozen of these books, I think four of them were by Katz. I probably still have them.

  7. I remember all of these shows and I remember these books too. My mother usually let me order any of the Scholastic books I wanted from our book orders at school to encourage reading but these types were considered a waste of money so I had to look at them at friends’ houses. Randolph Mantooth from Emergency made me swoon even at seven. My first celebrity crush. I wish I’d had the picture of him on the phone.

  8. Wow! I bet they never could have dreamed what Star Trek would become. “There is a movie coming out soon!” Yeah, that movie was garbage, but from then on. . .

    1. Yeah, I had never heard of half of these shows, but they were definitely right that Star Trek is a TV show that will not die! 🙂

  9. Like a roman-photo/photo-novel, but not; little more than advertising for these shows.
    Jerry Mander’s Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television from1978 states among other things:
    …”that many of the problems with television are inherent in the medium and technology itself, and thus cannot be reformed”
    I love this from GoodReads:
    A total departure from previous writing about television, this book (Four Arguments….) is the first ever to advocate that the medium is not reformable. Its problems are inherent in the technology itself and are so dangerous — to personal health and sanity, to the environment, and to democratic processes — that TV ought to be eliminated forever.

    Weaving personal experiences through meticulous research, the author ranges widely over aspects of television that have rarely been examined and never before joined together, allowing an entirely new, frightening image to emerge. The idea that all technologies are “neutral,” benign instruments that can be used well or badly, is thrown open to profound doubt. Speaking of TV reform is, in the words of the author, “as absurd as speaking of the reform of a technology such as guns.”

    Like a frog hitching a ride across the river on the back of a scorpion.

    yup. form dictates content.

  10. Today, who even cares about these TV shows and stars of yesteryear? While STAR TREK (of course) has become one of the most successful media franchises of all time,
    and you still see LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY and LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE reruns to this day, who remembers EIGHT IS ENOUGH and some of the other ones?

  11. Little House on the Prairie was, apparently, Saddam Hussein’s favourite. The theory is that he liked all those females being bossed about by the tough Pa. Interesting that it does still have reruns since I had heard that it could be cancelled on grounds of stealing land from Native Americans, though I don’t recall the Ingalls Wilder family ever coming into contact with any NAs. Perhaps they had already given them the cholera blankets? Anyway, white pioneers not considered very PC in this day & age.

    1. I don’t remember Pa being portrayed as tough and bossy at all–kind of the opposite. At least in my memory, he was usually kind and fair and sensitive, to an obnoxious, eye-rolling degree. Saddam must have liked something else about that show!

  12. Correction: They were only the Ingalls family, Wilder must have been Laura’s married name.

    Interesting to learn that ‘horses were important’ before they invented cars…

  13. The episode of LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY where Laverne ends end on Death Row (charged with bank robbery and/or murder) ranks among the STUPIDEST, LAMEST and most UNREALISTIC plotlines for a TV sitcom episode EVER! The main reason? Laverne and several other inmates actually SANG towards the end of this episode! Ridiculous! There sure was a lot of garbage on TV in the seventies and early eighties.

    1. They must have had to design a new barrel to scrape the bottom of to get that plot. Or they were intentionally coming up with something bad. There has to be a story there.

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