It’s our job but we’re not mean

Since it’s time to remember the reason for the season, here’s a little frisson of horror that might be familiar to anyone living in New York City circa 1976.

(I never lived in New York proper, but back in the Seventies, about the only places that had cable were areas where standard television reception was impossible, such as the valley in which Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa were sequestered. It’s hard to believe in this enlightened age of unlimited cable choices, but cable at that time consisted of three standard network channels, one PBS station, three independent stations from New York, one independent station from Boston, and one pay channel, HBO, if you wanted to pay extra. Back then, HBO started up at around 5:30 p.m. and cut off around midnight on weekdays, and all of the independent channels could be cut off at any time, on the order of the FCC, in order to encourage viewers to watch the news. For some reason, this always meant that any reruns of Star Trek or The Prisoner cut off no matter whatever the time of day, but you could be guaranteed that a rerun of The Dick Van Dyke Show or Hogan’s Heroes was playing somewhere. The best part of that arrangement was a LOT of horror films on both WPIX and WOR, and monster movies on Thanksgiving Day, so I watched a truly disturbing number of movies when I had the chance.)

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