Posted by Trixter on August 1, 2006
I’m not going to let it get me down, but oh my god what a complete disappointment the “first day of MTV programming” is on VH1 Classics. They’re showing the videos only!! The whole point of watching the first day of programming, I assumed, was so you could see the original VJs, see what non-commercial filler was like, see the “I want my MTV” promos… But no, VH1 Classics is showing the videos only. Yes, there are occaisional VJ clips, but they are all 15 seconds long or less, and have graphics and music overlaid onto them — useless. There are some retrospectives from artists, but they are presented in an incredibly annoying “I’m in a fake television with fake static noise and fatty scanlines” floating graphic.
Normally I don’t swear in print, but this situation warrants it: What the fuck? What is the point of advertising “the first day of MTV” when it clearly isn’t? What a major letdown. Maybe someday The Internet Archive will have the real programming.
Oh well, I still have fond memories of other early cable television properties to sustain me, like early Nickelodeon. The interstitial non-commercial filler was presented like a real nickelodeon, with most of the “talent” being a mime acting something out. I can remember Pinwheel, the only show on in the morning which lasted for 4 long hours and featured international cartoons, puppets, and other kid drivel. But my standout memories of early Nick are the ultimate example of low-budget cable television in 1980: Reading comic books aloud while the camera pans around the panels ala Ken Burns. I swear I am not making this up! Even better, the majority of the comics were, get ready for it… Swamp Thing! And this was a channel meant for children! (Hint to the comic clueless: Swamp Thing has never ever been appropriate for children.)
Ironically, I have those cheezy memories to thank for getting me into arguably Alan Moore’s best work: I picked up a Swamp Thing in 1985 out of curiousity, remembering the panels I’d seen, and it was Swamp Thing #35, where Moore really started picking up the story. I then collected all 16 Miraclemen, and of course Watchmen. So, thank you early low-budget cable television!
Update: You can indeed see the first full hour online at music.mtv.com, but it’s a tiny flash DRM’d thing. Geezus.