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   PCR #459 †(Vol. 10, No. 2) This edition is for the week of January 5--11, 2009.

"Gran Torino" †by Mike Smith
2008 Was A Year to Forget, But--December was a Month to Remember! †by William Moriaty
Welcome 2009 and 1969 Revisited! †by ED Tucker
WPIX Channel 11 †by Chris Woods
Today It's Your Birthday .... Christmas Bounty .... Football Playoffs †by Matt Drinennberg
Enough Already I Beg You .... I Said Enough! .... Stop It! Stop It! .... If You Can't Beat 'em .... Passing On .... The Best Of 2008 .... And The Winner Is .... My Favorite Films, Part 2 †by Mike Smith
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Growing Up Fanboy

WPIX Channel 11

Nowadays thereís about over 500 channels on every cable box or satellite TV. You would think with all those channels you would find a real great channel with everything you would want to see. For me, that one great channel doesnít exist, but back in the day, one channel was pretty close and it wasnít even a cable station and was on the air way before there was even cable. This channel was a New York City based independent statewide channel called WPIX Channel 11. I probably started watching this channel when I was just a toddler in the 1970ís all the way up until I moved out of New York in the mid-1990ís. It was probably the most watched channel that I viewed all the years I lived there. It had everything for me, from cartoons to reruns of sitcoms to sports to classic and modern films. It was a great channel with lots of great programs. Here are some of my memories of WPIX.

First, hereís a little history about the channel. WPIX started in New York City in 1948. It stayed an independent channel until 1995 when it became a WB affiliate (later it would become a CW station). Up in Utica in the '70ís, Channel 11 was part of our channel line-up, which included about 10 to 11 channels. Besides the major 3 networks at the time (NBC, ABC, CBS) and PBS, we had 3 independent channels which along with WPIX, there were WNEW-TV Channel 5 (another New York based channel) and the New Jersey based station WWOR-TV Channel 9. All were very similar with their programming and also all them had their own news broadcast, but for me P-I-X was my favorite. Of course the first thing that attracted me to the channel was the cartoons and childrenís programming. In the late 70ís, I can remember watching Looney Toons, Popeye, and Scooby-Doo cartoons on the station. Also during that time I use to always go back and forth between Channel 11 and Channel 5 for my cartoon watching. Channel 5 showed Woody Woodpecker and Fat Albert cartoons, while Channel 11 had classic 1960ís Marvel cartoons like Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and Marvel Super Heroes which featured The Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and others. Both channel had their share of cartoons, but also they had their fair share of childrenís or family programming. While Channel 5 had The Brady Bunch, Gillianís Island, and Batman (The Batman series later appeared on WPIX as well) Channel 11 had The Little Rascals and The Three Stooges which I watched religiously every Sunday morning.

Another Sunday morning ritual, which started for me as far back as the late 70ís and all the way to the early 90ís, was watching Abbott and Costello movies on the channel. Right after The Three Stooges short films at 11:30am, WPIX would roll out a classic Abbott and Costello films like Buck Privates, Hit the Ice, The Naughty Nineties, and their many horror-themed comedies such as Hold That Ghost, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and my personnel favorite, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, the first movie where I was introduced to Universal Classic Monsters. Throughout the years I eventually saw every single A & C film, but I never tired of them and in the late '80ís when we got our first VCR, I taped every movie so I could watch them anytime I wanted. There was also another comedy duo that showed up on P-I-X but it was only once a year. Every Christmas, Channel 11 showed Laurel and Hardyís March of the Wooden Soldiers (which I wrote about in last monthís Growing Up Fanboy) which they still play every Christmas to this day.

Another thing I was introduced to on WPIX was the New York Yankees. I remember watching a few games when I was kid in the late 70ís. My favorite player was Mr. October, Reggie Jackson and in 1977 and 1978 they were World Series Champions. They were some great games played on the station.

There were a number of reruns of network sitcoms, from classics like The Honeymooners to current ones at that time like Happy Days, The Odd Couple, The Jeffersons, and in later years, they ran shows like Cheers and Coach. Both WNEW and WWOR had their own reruns as well. WNEW had I Love Lucy, Threeís Company, All in The Family, M*A*S*H, Alice, One Day at a Time, and others. WWOR use to show Leave it to Beaver and The Benny Hill Show. Although both Channel 11 and Channel 5 seem to be neck-and-neck with their variety of sitcoms, P-I-X always came out on top with over all programming.

Into the 1980ís, WPIX and WNEW-TV went head-to-head with their weekday afternoon cartoon line-up. Both channels were the home to many syndicated animated series. Again, I found myself switching back and forth between the two channels. To me P-I-X had the best line-up. Everyday after school I would watch Voltron (both lions and cars versions), G.I. Joe, Transformers, Go-Bots, Mask, and others. Channel 11 also showed cartoons on Sunday morning as well with a series called Super Sunday that featured Robotix, Jem, Inhumanoids, and Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines. Channel 5 showed hit cartoons like He-Man and The Masters of the Universe, Thundercats, Inspector Gadget and others during the week. As the '80ís went on, my interest in music grew and there were tons of bands making music videos. At the time we didnít get MTV so they were many syndicated shows that had videos or musical performances. I can remember Channel 5 having some program that showed music videos, but every Saturday night WPIX had Solid Gold, which was kind of like American Bandstand, but instead of teenagers dancing to songs, they had the Solid Gold dancers shaking it to the hot songs of the day. They also had many different musical acts singing their hit songs.

WPIX was also known for showing great movies. Every night of the week they had the eight oíclock movie. I think they showed every Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Bruce Lee, and Chuck Norris film. They also had great comedies like Animal House, The Blues Brothers, and Airplane and cool fantasy adventure films like the Superman and Conan films, Clash of the Titians, and Ice Pirates. One thing, P-I-X had Channel 5 and 9 beat hands down when came to their movie selection. They also had awesome horror films and television series. Towards the late '80ís when I really started getting into horror, WPIX was one of the channels I watched to catch the best in that genre. I remember the station having theme weeks sometime during the summer and it was always cool when they did one for horror films. I use to watch movies like The Shinning, Salemís Lot, Halloween 1-3, Carrie, Firestarter, Catís Eye, The Fog, Squirm, Friday the 13th The Final Chapter, and John Carpenterís The Thing. One thing that sucked was P-I-X use to cut the hell out of the horror films. The first time I watched The Thing was on Channel 11 and they chopped so much out because it was too gory. They use to put in deleted scenes or extra stuff to fill the time after cutting so much. I remember, WPIX version of The Thing had a narration in the beginning introducing all of the characters and they also had a narration at the end, showing one of the dogs escaping the camp that was up in smoke. They also had extra scenes when they showed Halloween 1 and 2 and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. Still, P-I-X was very horror friendly, with not only showing horror films, but they showed some cool horror and sci-fi television shows both classic and syndicated. My favorite was the original Twilight Zone that they showed every night at 11:30pm. They use to have an all-day Twilight Zone marathon on 4th of July. I tried to tape as many shows that I could on that day. Channel 11 also had the original Star Trek and they broadcast, at the time, the new series, Star Trek: The Next Generation. They had other new syndicated horror TV shows like Friday the 13th: The Series, War of The Worlds, Monsters, and my favorite, Tales from the Darkside.

By 1987, Utica finally got a number of cable channels in the basic cable package. That year we went from 10 channels to like 60. WPIX was still going strong, but WNEW-TV Channel 5 got bought by an up start network, FOX, and left the Utica line up. WWOR-TV Channel 9 stuck around and started showing popular talk shows like The Richard Bey Show and Morton Downey Jr.. Still with all these new channels for us, P-I-X still stayed strong for the next number of years. Into the 90ís, the channel still stayed true to its form. Showing great movies, TV shows, and Yankee games, but other cable channels like USA and TBS started to have P-I-X-like line-ups. USA had tons of cult classic horror films play all weekend long in the '80ís and early '90ís and TBS had a great comedy line-up during the week with reruns of Happy Days, Threeís Company, and Saved by the Bell. So, Channel 11 had some good competition like they did in the early days with Channel 5 and 9, but now the cable channels were winning and P-I-Xís programming wasnít improving. They stopped playing Three Stooges and Abbott and Costello films on Sunday and they even stopped showing The Honeymooners, The Twilight Zone, and Star Trek, which were all staples for that channel. The syndicated horror TV shows were canceled and they didnít show that many horror or action films in the '90ís. Then in 1995, WPIX became a WB affiliate and the whole channel changed for the worst.

Today, WPIX Channel 11 is still around, now being a CW affiliate. I know that it hasnít been available in Utica for a number of years now and I canít remember the last time I checked out the channel when I was up in New York, but I know the channel isnít the same. Only thing that is the same I believe is they still have news broadcast and in the late '90ís they stopped showing Yankee games. Even though it will never go back to its glory days, I will always remember the many hours of cartoons, sitcoms, baseball, movies, and many other programs that I watched on WPIX Channel 11.

"Growing Up Fanboy" is ©2009 by Chris Woods.   All graphics this page, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.