Trying Times

This Needs To Be On DVD: Trying Times

It’s hard to argue that we’re approaching the twilight of physical media. That makes me a little bit twitchy – stuff that hasn’t made it to DVD needs to make it to DVD soon, while there’s still a DVD market to make it to. The manufacture-on-demand DVD market is one of the best things ever, giving some real niche material a fresh lease on life…but could it be that some things are too niche even for burn-on-demand?

Case in point: the ultra-obscure PBS-produced comedy anthology series Trying Times, which aired two six-season episodes in 1987 and 1989. Produced at KCET, the PBS affiliate in Los Angeles, the show had access to big names, some just before their big breakout, and some who were already household names – Robert Klein, Jean Stapleton, Carrie Fisher, Geena Davis, Tim Matheson, Rosanna Arquette, Judge Reinhold, Keanu Reeves, and even David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. Each half-hour episode was its own little universe of ennui and social awkwardness, a one-act play unto itself.
Trying Times
Trying Times

There was talent aplenty behind the cameras too.
Trying Times

With writers like Spalding Gray and Terrence McNally aboard, and directors such as the late Jonathan Demme, Buck Henry, Christopher Guest, and Alan Arkin, the question becomes…how has this evaded a DVD release for all these years?

[Via] ThorC1138

Trying Times is a rare specimen of PBS in more daring times: rather than British imports or documentaries or filmed stage plays, this was a unique attempt to generate an original comedy just for PBS. Somewhere between its lack of commercial breaks and its short seasons, Trying Times felt like American comedy having taken notes from British comedies. Of course, it’s almost inevitable that someone, somewhere, protested that this wasn’t what they thought their pledge drive money was going toward. How different would PBS be if this had been just the beginning of original comedy or dramatic programming?

What’s amazing is that there’s precious little evidence of Trying Times’ existence anywhere – IMDB listings are vague at best, and I could only locate two episodes on YouTube. On the one hand, I’m relieved that at least one or two other people remember the show. On the other hand…wouldn’t it be great if we could all see this again?

[Via] Dads Volunteer’s Channel

So my challenge, to the DVD publishers of the world, is to ease our anxieties and give us a chuckle in these very real trying times…by bringing back Trying Times for an encore.

Carrie Fisher at The Sega Center in Fox Hills Mall (1977)

Carrie Fisher in this brief 1977 interview from The Making of Star Wars, where she is seen playing 1975’s Anti-Aircraft from Atari at a Sega Center is going to be one of the coolest things you will see all day!
Sega Center - Carrie Fisher
Filmed at the Fox Hills Mall in Culver City, California – I can’t help but dig the appropriately Star Wars themed cabinets that we can see Carrie playing before the interview begins. These were obviously specially made for the Sega Center arcades as you can tell by looking at the standard edition on the arcade game flyer below – courtesy of The Arcade Flyer Archive.

Image courtesy of the Arcade Flyer Archive.

Image courtesy of the Arcade Flyer Archive.


In this clip Carrie Fisher discusses some of the elements of Star Wars that she enjoyed and what she didn’t care for while filming the original movie. I might have to blame this on my advanced age but I do not recall ever seeing this particular clip before from The Making of Star Wars although I believe it might have also been shown when the Fox channel did their little special to celebrate the re-release of the original Star Wars trilogy to theaters…well…the “A few new surprises” or Special Editions I mean.

[Via] Benovite
I found an article from 8 Bit Central that states they believe the Sega Center featured in that interview with Carrie Fisher was later remodeled into a Time Out Tunnel which would eventually be converted to the Time Out arcade. This brand of arcade was able to survive and thrive until around 1995 when after being sold to The Edison Brothers company, they were forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy – which was then bought by the Namco corporation which is why you can still find Time Out arcades in various malls.
Time Out - Namco - Arcades
I’m not sure what the Time Out arcades were like in your neck of the woods but the one that was in my local mall still had a few arcade games and even one or two classics titles like Galaga and Ms. Pac-Man although the younger children were brought in by the redemption games.