Allison’s “Saturday Night Live” (Starmaker VHS) Collection!

You’ve seen my VHS/VCR Tests, but you have yet to see a rare jewel of my VHS collection – my Starmaker Entertainment prints of The Best of Saturday Night Live!

But First, a little background on Starmaker Entertainment!

Starmaker Entertainment

Type “Starmaker Entertainment” into a Wikipedia search, and you’ll redirect to Anchor Bay Entertainment. If you think that sounds incorrect, it isn’t. Anchor Bay Entertainment is the successor to Starmaker Entertainment. In fact, Anchor Bay traces its origins back to both Starmaker (founded in 1988) and Video Treasures (founded in 1985). Both companies reissued previously-released home video releases at budget prices.

Because Vestron was a ripoff, folks.

Better be a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, because $29.95 for a video your kids will basically run into the ground after repeated viewings is not “a low price.”

Starmaker Entertainment’s major distributions included (recently defunct) New World Pictures releases, programs licensed to their video division, Viacom programmings, and the aforementioned Saturday Night Live home video collection.

In 1995, the competing Video Treasures and Starmaker Entertainment were sold to the Handleman Company, beginning new life as Anchor Bay Entertainment in May 1995.

How I Got Into Collecting These Videos

I was in Suncoast Video at the mall in the spring of 1997 (I remember this because I was in eighth grade), and spotted a bunch of Saturday Night Live videocassettes on the shelf, all in brightly colored boxes.

Some had titles, others were for specific years. I began getting into reruns of the show the previous summer, when they aired on Comedy Central. The video that jumped out at me specifically was one that said 15th Anniversary Special. I figured out that would have been 1989. Intrigued, and with more than the cost of $4.99 (yes, $4.99) in my wallet, I was sold.

I was sold as long as Suncoast Video carried the videos, which was until 1999.

By that point, I amassed a respectable collection of these videos. I’d be remiss if I didn’t open up my archives to show you my collection!

Upload via Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words

Of course, I’d also be remiss if I didn’t include a VHS/VCR test!

Starmaker Entertainment Saturday Night Live Home Video Sampler

Uploaded to WordPress via Allison’s Written Words

I always think I miss videocassettes until I see the degraded quality. Or worse, the videocassette acts up while making a sampler. Either way, they were an important part of my VHS collection/teenage viewing.

Proof that I liked nostalgia long before I was old enough, or before it was cool to like nostalgia.

Darren McGavin - What's My Line

Check Out Darren McGavin On 1961’s What’s My Line?

The late and great Darren McGavin is an actor we remember fondly around here. Whether that be from his roles as Carl Kolchak in The Night Stalker. Which has been covered by both the Retroist as well as a Saturday Frights podcast. Or from his memorable roles in the likes of A Christmas Story or even The X-Files. But it’s not like those were the only roles that made Darren McGavin a star. Which is certainly evident as he was a guest panelist on an episode of 1961’s What’s My Line?.
Darren McGavin - What's My Line - Title

What’s My Line? first started airing on CBS back in 1950. Over seventeen years the show featured celebrity panelists attempting to guess the occupation of a guest. Furthermore with the mystery celebrity guest, the panelists had to guess their identity. Originally the shown was intended to be entitled Occupation Unknown.

[Via] Maeve S.

Hence What’s My Line? is of course referring to the occupation of the guests. Besides a handful of episodes that were captured on Quadruplex videotape, all shows were filmed live. Starting with the premiere episode on February 2, 1950 until it’s last episode on September 3, 1967. Although having said that there was a syndicate revival that started in 1968 and lasted until 1975. Which is certainly one of the reasons that TV Guide ranked it as the ninth greatest game show of all time in 2003.

[Via] Second Chance 1977

Now getting back to Darren McGavin, the actor actually got his start on Broadway. His big TV break came in 1958 with Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. McGavin naturally played the role of the famous private detective. That noir-based TV show ran for two seasons. At the same time in fact as McGavin appeared in NBC’s popular show Riverboat. Running from 1959 until 1961 and featured…briefly…as co-star, Burt Reynolds.

[Via] SJ Bernstein

I said briefly because after 20 episodes, Reynolds claims he couldn’t get along with McGavin. So that resulted in a change in the cast of Riverboat . With Burt Reynolds being replaced by The Rockford Files‘ Noah Beery Jr. for 13 episodes. It was neither TV series it seems that had McGavin as a guest panelist. In the November 26 episode from 1961, he is mentioned as appearing in Blood, Sweat, and Stanley Poole.
Darren McGavin - Playbill

You might notice from that vintage playbill that it also starred a very young Peter Fonda.

Friends, grab your favorite snack and beverage and enjoy Darren McGavin in What’s My Line?

How about a bonus episode of What’s My Line?


An episode I might add that features none other than mystery celebrity guest…Roger Moore!

[Via] Chad Mosher

Sloop John B - Wild Wild West - Michael Dunn and Phoebe Dorin

Sloop John B…On The Wild Wild West?!

Now don’t get me wrong, friends. I certainly know that with the song Sloop John B, the Beach Boys didn’t create it. Indeed, it has been at least credited as far back as 1916. It is of course assumed to be far, far older than that. In fact the original song wasn’t known as Sloop John B. The tune originated in the Bahamas and was known as The John B. Sails.

[Via] Marcel San Miguel

Naturally more than a few singers and bands have tried their hand at the song. One of my favorites happens to be by The Kingston Trio. The band was quite known for their folk and pop music ballads. Including a 1958 recording of The John B. Sails version under The Wreck of the John B.. Moreover it has been said that Al Jardine had heard the song and actually took it to the rest of the Beach Boys.
Sloop John B - Beach Boys

Which is how the band ended up writing and singing Sloop John B on Pet Sounds in 1966. While it was Brian Wilson who would alter some of the original songs lyrics. Al Jardine is credited with changing the chord progression of the song. Furthermore in The Pet Sounds Sessions: “The Making of Pet Sounds”, Jardine has stated about demonstration the song to Wilson:

“So I put some minor changes in there, and it stretched out the possibilities from a vocal point of view. Anyway, I played it, walked away from the piano and we went back to work. The very next day, I got a phone call to come down to the studio. Brian played the song for me, and I was blown away. The idea stage to the completed track took less than 24 hours.”

Now then, that leads us to how Sloop John B landed on The Wild Wild West. Pet Sounds was released in March of 1966. With the episode of the western sci-fi series airing on September 30th of the same year.

Not very hard to see why the show wouldn’t add a little nod to theBeach Boys. Especially considering they had both Michael Dunn and Phoebe Dorin to sing the song. While both played villains on The Wild Wild West as Miguelito Loveless and Antoinette. In real life they had become a singing duo thanks to Roddy McDowall. Who after seeing them perform suggested they become a nightclub act.
Sloop John B - Michael Dunn - Phoebe Dorin

Ready to be charmed by Dunn and Dorin’s version of the Sloop John B?


You will notice they use both the Beach Boys lyrics mixed with The John B. Sails version.

[Via] John Thompson

But wait, friends. Did you also know that Bil Mumy and Marta Kristen also tackled The John B. Sails in an episode of Lost in Space?

[Via] Rob1437ert

Pinball Champ - Coleco

Remember 1977’s Pinball Champ by Coleco?

Pinball Champ must have made quite impression when it hit the scene in ’77. While there were certainly handheld pinball games around by that time. It appears that Coleco was aiming for the teenagers when manufacturing this home version. Although it must be said that Pinball Champ wasn’t the only table Coleco was producing at the time.
Pinball Champ - The Fonz

That Fonz pinball table was released back in December of 1977. Just a few weeks in fact after an TV ad for Pinball Champ was released. Around the same time Coleco was also producing Super Shot as well as UFO Electronic Pinball!
Pinball Champ - UFO Electronic Pinball - Coleco

Here is something to keep in mind, friends. It was in 1976 that New York City repealed the pinball ban. A law that had been in place since the ’40s. As tables were seen as a form of gambling. As was proven when an undercover patrol officer on March 6, 1948 arrested a cigar store owner after playing on a pinball table in his establishment. The reason being cited as having “Unlawful possession of a gambling machine.” If you want to know even more – make sure to follow this link to the History Channel.

Pinball Champ - William P. O'Brien - BettmannGetty Images

William P. O’Brien taking a sledgehammer to seized pinball tables. (Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)

It was a dark time for pinball fans to be sure. While what most of us consider pinball wasn’t released until 1950, with Gottlieb’s Spot Bowler. The basic premise of pinball has been around since the 1700s, such as with Billard japonais!
Pinball Champ - Billard japonais

As I have previously said, there were pinball games for kids by the time Pinball Champ was released. Just not quite as sophisticated as what Coleco was offering at that time. Although having said that I did in fact find a video for a 1965 Riverboat table by Marx.

[Via] Douglas Luthringer

While I am sure that you wouldn’t want to get too physical with those tables. I feel it is more appealing than your typical handheld version. Excluding of course this 1977 Star Wars pinball game.
Pinball Champ - Star Wars

I think it is far past time you get a chance to see the TV ad for 1977’s Pinball Champ!

[Via] The Museum of Classic Chicago TV