Monday, April 23, 2012

Before the video recorder, the video novel

Every Sunday night I record some programs on my DVR, and watch them later in the week. It seems I've had this ability forever, but it's really been just about thirty years. I bought my first VCR in 1980, a huge RCA with manual controls (no remote), hooked it up to my broadcast-only television (no cable), and taped programs I could watch later. It was at least a couple of years after that before I was able to rent movies from a local video store. We have a whole generation of people who don't know what it was like to be at the mercy of television schedules. If you wanted to catch a program you'd better be in front of your TV when it was on or it would be gone forever...or at least until it was rerun.

Today I found a book that's a sort of precursor to video recording, the "video novel." I remember there were others of this type, but this is the only one I own. Mork and Mindy was a cute sitcom, and I watched it occasionally, but I doubt I would have spent $2.75 for this book when it came out in 1979. This is the second printing so apparently there were enough fans of the show to sell out the first.

I've just taken a section of the book, which is from the Mork and Mindy Hour Special, to show you. In 1979 it wasn't unheard of on TV to show unmarried couples living together, but it was still frowned on by society in general. They made it easy in the show by making Mork an alien. Or at least I guess that made it easy.

I may not be sure of that, but I know one thing for sure, the sly scriptwriters slipped one by the network censors in Mindy's line to Mork, "It's not nice to sit on your face."

Na-nu, na-nu!



Shaqui said...

There were obviously whole reams of photo (or foto) novels in the 1970s, before the boom in home video. Why they chose to call Mork and Mindy a 'video novel' is beyond me, especially when it's obvious that the series was filmed, which allows for the same crisp reproduction! But what bemused me was why - unless it was for copyright/cost reasons - that the Fonz/Laverne section was omitted...

Postino said...

Shaqui, there is a question of word usage...before "video" became commonly known as a tape recording of a television show or movie (or a musical performance from MTV) it meant what came over a television screen. So the blurb writer was probably thinking of the original meaning of the word when he used it on the cover.

I believe your assessment of the Laverne/Fonzie segment was correct. The publishers either couldn't get permission from the actors or they wanted money.