IN 1982, television didn't grow like Topsy. It grew like herpes. Television was everywhere. Why, you had to lock the bathroom door to keep it out. And as often happens, abundance breeds contempt. Oh, 1982-- was that a year! Or was that a year? Well it was something, something to fill the space between 1981 and 1983, and it will be remembered. Like Pia Zadora.
We laughed, we cried, we pondered life's mysteries, we thrilled to drama and romance.
And then, for a change of pace, after we'd done all of that, we'd turn on the television set.
A good year for television? A bad year for television? Just, really, a year full of television, and a year full of stumbling blocks along the pathway to new obstacles. The landmarks are easy to remember. But some of the landmines are worth remembering too. Now, before the gloom is off the morose, let us look back, once more, and ponder some of the year's windfalls, crestfalls, pitfalls and pratfalls, and say to ourselves with bobbed hope in our hearts, "None of this must ever happen again--but it probably will . . . "
* If you liked the war, you'll love the game--After pressure from Parliament, the manufacturers of a video game called "Obliterate," which allowed British citizens to fight the war in the Falklands on their TV sets even as it was being waged for real in the South Atlantic, withdrew the game from the market.
* Maybe you've come too long a way, baby--In a commercial for Epris, a new perfume, Jaclyn Smith cooed, "Part of the art of being a woman is knowing when not to be too much of a lady."
* We won't be right back after this message--NBC let two seconds pass following nuclear apocalypse at the conclusion of its movie "World War III" before leaping into a shampoo commercial.
* Here, Bob, drink some of this--Robert Young was fired as the spokesman for Sanka.
* Here, Orse, drink a gallon of this--Orson Welles was dropped as spokesman for Paul Masson.
* The Annual Frank Reynolds Tantrum--Thrown in June, outside Versailles, during coverage of President Reagan's European jaunt, because of a tape editing problem, and reportedly so noisy that CBS technicians were pounding on the wall of the trailer next to ABC's in an effort to shut Frank up.
* Adventures of Dan Rather, part 1--The anchorman was punched and knocked to the ground by a "well-dressed man" while Rather stood in front of a San Francisco Hotel during the CBS affiliates' convention.
* Adventures of Dan Rather, part 2--President Reagan called Rather while the "CBS Evening News" still was on the air to complain about press coverage of U.S. relations with Taiwan.
* Yes, he sits in the Holiday Inn Chair at the Columbia School of Journalism--Accuracy in Media congratulated Bill D. Goforth, vice president of communications at Holiday Inn, for refusing to pay for a Holiday Inn commercial that ran during the CBS News report "People Like Us," with Bill Moyers, because, Goforth said, "We felt the program was biased, narrow, one-sided, not news--but propaganda."
* Behind Every Silver Lining, a Lead Lining--TV evangelist Robert Schuller explained "possibility thinking" to his audience by saying, "If you are unemployed today, let me ask you, would you rather have terminal cancer?"
* Some good news, and some bad news--Lawrence W. Lichty, a University of Maryland communications professor, claimed data from a Simmons Market Research poll showed that Americans were not as dependent on television news as was thought and that 68 percent of U.S. adults "read at least part of some newspaper every day." Lichty later had to confess he had completely misinterpreted the data and that many of those U.S. adults who "read at least part of some newspaper every day" restrict themselves to the funny pages.
* Surveys that must have been taken during a full moon--In a poll published by TV Guide, a majority of those responding named ABC News the "most trusted" news division of the three networks.
* Worst answer on "Family Feud"--Asked to name "a famous Willie," a contestant replied, "Willie the Pooh."
* Coalition-for-Better-Television Press Release of the Year--"Donald E. Wildmon, head of the Coalition for Better Television, says he has no hard feelings toward Tony Randall after Randall called him an 'ignorant, cynical, Bible-thumping a--.' "
* Carl Sagan, eat your heart out--Walter Cronkite did a tap dance in top hat and tails on an episode of "Universe."
* Not the way we rehearsed it--Orlando Jose Tardencillas Espinosa, a captured El Salvador guerrilla, was trotted out by the State Department to say that Nicaragua and Cuba were interfering in his country's civil war. But, when TV cameras started rolling, Espinosa denied it all and instead accused the State Department of trying to use him as part of a campaign of "fascist propaganda."
* That's Incredible--Barbara Walters told the Ladies' Home Journal she never has had a facelift.
* The network executive mind at work; or, why television stinks--Tony Thomopoulos, president of ABC Entertainment, said the reason "Police Squad!" failed in the ratings was that "it required constant viewing, and I don't think that people can watch a TV series without some distractions."
* But, come to think of it, Tony Thomopoulos may have a point there--Television Audience Assessment Inc., in a study of 1600 TV viewers in Springfield, Ill., found that in most homes, TV was used for background noise and not for entertainment.
* Also known as Johnny One-Eye--A Cincinnati doctor said people who watch late-night television can develop a harmless form of temporary night blindness and named the disorder "Carsonogenous monocular nyctalopia."
* Imagine what a little psychiatric therapy would do--A man in a suppository commercial said, "I can relate to my family again" after using Preparation H.
* It kinda renews your faith in the human spirit--Manufacturers of competing aspirin-free pain relievers mounted fresh marketing initiatives to capitalize on the Tylenol scare.
* Oh, the human spirit, it's really something--A secretary for "ABC News Nightline" reportedly tricked Lenny Skutnik, hero of the Air Florida disaster, into coming onto the program by telling him she'd be fired if he didn't appear.
* The human spirit certainly is something to be reckoned with, yessiree Bob--When a film crew from a public TV station in Trenton, N.J., arrived at City Hall to do a story on the town's widely hailed new "workfare" program, it found that four of the five welfare recipients who were supposed to be serving as guards under the new program had never shown up. The fifth arrived after the film crew had left, claiming she'd been detained by a break-in at her apartment.
* Wojo, Fish and Dietrich stood at the bedside--On "The CBS Morning News," Diane Sawyer identified Barney Clark, the first recipient of an artificial heart, as "Barney Miller."
* And now, The Ray Charles Story, starring Anson Williams, with the Lennon Sisters as The Supremes--After word of its existence was leaked to the press, CBS bravely announced it would no longer rely on "concept testing" for planned TV movies by a firm that recommended against films built around "Negroes, Jews, Italians, Mexicans" and members of other minorities.
* Another discouraging economic indicator--Sinbad the Sailor, the horse used by Ronald Reagan when he starred in the TV series "Death Valley Days," was struck and killed by lightning in Kanab, Utah.
* However, there's something to be said for being struck by lightning--Wayne Newton ended his TV special by singing, "Everybody loves me, everybody loves me, but the only one I want to love me is you," to his horse.
* A public service, sort of--ABC announced that "the lavish spectacular, 'Cheryl Ladd . . . Scenes from a Special,' will be closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired . . . "
* The 'You Bet' Award--to Morgan Fairchild, who declared in an interview, "I'm not a stupid person. Not one of your vacuous Hollywood bimbos. I'm intelligent, and not without talent."
* Our favorite Erik Estrada press release--(From the ICPR agency): "The body is lean, taut and never still, like the dark eyes that dart here, there while taking and weighing everything around him. Dressed in skintight beige and blue uniform breeches with gleaming handmade boots, custom-made jeans or immaculate white tie and tails, Erik Estrada . . . "
* Our favorite Valerie Harper press release -- (From the ICPR agency): "Touching millionsof lives by television is oftentimes enough for other performers, but Valerie takes her concern for the good of humankind out into the real world, where it counts . . . "
* Proof positive the Reagan administration really does have a sense of humor--White House counselor Edwin Meese, in an interview on "The CBS Evening News" in March, said the MX missile should be renamed the "Hallmark" so that "the Russians would know we cared enough to send the very best."
* More than enough, already--Kyle Riley and Linda Richardson, of Des Moines, were married in a Pac-Man parlor because they'd met while playing video games.
* Just when you think you might want to give up, comes a new reason for definitely giving up--The A.C. Nielsen Co. reported that TV viewing in the average American home was up from 6 hours and 35 minutes a day in 1980 to 6 hours and 44 minutes a day in 1982.