Friday, May 29, 2009

Online Pick of the Week (5/29): A Lesson in Wiping

The pick this week is from the BBC and is a lesson in something that practically every classic TV lover or videotape preserver would probably cringe at as soon as they see it. It’s a film that demonstrates how to erase a videotape, better known in the television industry as wiping. It’s why a big chunk of vintage television in the United States and abroad no longer exists.

Some of the stuff that’s gone today still amazes me. I’m not a sports fan, but the idea of the first ever Super Bowl being erased, and what’s more, knowing that it was covered by two networks, CBS and NBC, instead of the usual one… how could it be gone? The first ever Tonight Show. I know, I know, I know, videotapes were expensive then, storage space, blazĂ©, blazĂ©, blah, etc., etc., etc., but still… it’s a bit depressing to look at as a TV fan.

And of course being the game show and soap fan that I am, I hate that there are huge chunks of early years of Another World, As The World Turns, Guiding Light, and just to name a few game show wise, Woolery years of Wheel of Fortune, New York-era daytime Pyramid, and almost all of ABC Password which are apparently gone forever. But we’ve had some luck recently with a few original broadcasts of Woolery Wheel as well as High Rollers with Alex Trebek being found thanks to whoever was using a Betamax VCR those days. Props to Claire Labine and Paul Avila Mayer for saving over 95% of Ryan’s Hope. And soap fans who don’t already know will be joyed to find out that The Young and the Restless, Days of our Lives, and The Doctors all exist in their entireties. Now if SOAPnet will only air these shows… but I digress.

Though the British are much worse off as far as wiping goes… it seems practically most anything pre-1970 is deemed to be gone. It doesn’t surprise me to hear that staff personnel would hide some episodes of shows in their homes to make sure they exist.

One other thing to point out… I love what one of the comments on the page says. What irony; most old videotapes and films are gone yet this old film demonstrating the wiping process is still in existence.

A lesson in wiping… my online pick of the week!

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