Free Showtime

In the 1980s a paperclip could get you Free Showtime

I remember when we first got cable TV at our house. Not sure why, but we had MTV, but that was it as far as premium channels went, no HBO, Showtime, or Playboy, they were scrambled when you punched their channel button. We had the old Jerrold cable box, no remote push button. We did have a remote-controlled TV, but still had to get up and punch the button on the cable box to switch channels. Yet, we figured out a way to get ourselves Free Showtime.

Now, I am not exactly sure how I learned this trick, but if you took a paperclip and stuck it down into the box next to certain buttons, the scrambled channels would come in clear. Although I did my fair share of sneaking in watching the Playboy Channel, today I want to talk about a show I was able to watch on Showtime. It was called Bizarre and was hosted by John Byner.

Bizarre opening

John had a show in the earlier 70’s called John Byner Comedy Hour which the character of Super Dave Osbourne, played by Bob Einstein, was first introduced. John late got the show Bizarre on Showtime, and Super Dave was back as well. John’s show was not politically correct by today’s standard and was even edgy for its time. Taking a queue from burlesque of old, they would often show women topless. That I am sure brought me people coming back each week. While this might be the case, the shows was actually very funny.

So if you have the chance, do a search for Bizarre on YouTube and watch some old clips. We living in wonderful time, where you don’t even need a paperclip to get old Free Showtime. Now all you got to do is no what to search for.


Full blown child of the 70's and 80's...

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3 thoughts on “In the 1980s a paperclip could get you Free Showtime

  1. Oh my Glob, I absolutely loved Bizarre. I probably still have some eps on VHS at my parents’ house somewhere.

    The one thing I really remember was a skit with a comedian (I want to say it was Howie Mandell?) who took someone out of the audience and he was a sea captain. There may have been a puppet involved too.

  2. You probably managed to bypass (or disable) the scrambling circuitry by shorting out two close traces on the circuit board.

    To get a free movie channel in my locality, we had to build an LC band reject filter and place it inline with the cable coming in to remove the scrambling signal that was “washing out” HBO.

  3. We were lucky in Canada — Bizarre was shown on regular free TV. I think it was shot at CFTO’s studios in Toronto.

    Bob Einstein, you might know, is the brother of Albert Brooks. Yup, Brooks’ actual name is Albert Einstein.

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