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What recordings can only be watched at TV museums?
October 21, 2011 12:44 PM   Subscribe

What rare, important, especially unusual recordings can I only see at TV museums in the U.S.?

What are the most incredible, obscure, fascinating, possibly transgressive, inspiring, trapped-in-time, utterly unavailable
on YouTube or DVD TV shows for me to check into at the Museum of
Broadcast Communications in Chicago, Paley Center For Media in
NYC or LA, and the UCLA Film and Television Archive?

A lot of important, obscure TV footage is readily available on YouTube at this point, but what sorts of things would I still need to visit one of these museums to see? I'm thinking of things along the lines of Turn-On, allegedly the only U.S. TV show to ever be pulled off of the air and canceled in the middle of its first episode (other exceptionally bad pilots too, maybe), the A Slew of Simpsons special with Tracey Ullman footage which I remember watching as a kid, but which seems to have otherwise dropped off of the face of the earth, and the Hey, Hey, Hey, It's Fat Albert special that led to the full series that has a Herbie Hancock soundtrack, and apparently a very different art style (Fat Albert is so gigantic you never see his face in frame, only his body). I would include TV trainwrecks like the famously bad Milton Berle SNL episode too, except that's readily available on Amazon Video for $2.

I'm thinking important historical/political events too, but it seems to me that a lot of the good stuff is on YouTube. Still, there's got to be some important footage out there outside the scope of the internet. What say you, Ask MeFi?
posted by stleric to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Star Wars Christmas special
posted by Bonzai at 1:52 PM on October 21, 2011


You can search the databases for most of those places online. UCLA doesn't really have a drop-in exhibit, but you can schedule an appointment to view shows.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:15 PM on October 21, 2011


For better or for worse, the Star Wars Christmas Special is pretty easy to find in full on YouTube at this point -- I'm looking for the sorts of things that if I don't see at one of these museums, I'll probably never be able to see anywhere else, ever.

I've definitely tried nosing around the databases a bit, but my problem is more that I don't even know what to begin looking for with them -- I know that there are gems, and I know how I'd be able to pull them up, I just don't know what the gems are.
posted by stleric at 2:28 PM on October 21, 2011


I believe the Museum of Broadcast Communications has a searchable database online now. I wouldn't plan a trip to Chicago just to see it unless I were in the area for other reasons, but if there's a must-watch rarity there, it's nice enough.
posted by davejay at 2:52 PM on October 21, 2011


Emmy award-winning (for comedy writing) TV show criminally cancelled after one season, no dvds: Frank's Place.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:29 PM on October 21, 2011


The lost Woody Allen film: Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story
posted by Awkward Philip at 8:33 PM on October 21, 2011


If I were you, I'd try getting in touch with the places you'd like to visit and ask them this question. Exciting rarities like what you want are the kinds of things that archives love to brag about.
posted by bubukaba at 9:18 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had never heard of Frank's Place or Men of Crisis, and they both look/sound fantastic -- many thanks!
posted by stleric at 7:41 AM on October 29, 2011


Passing this along -- comedy blog Splitsider is doing a series on rare and interesting comedy footage available for viewing at the Paleys:
http://splitsider.com/slug/from-the-archives-2
posted by stleric at 8:53 AM on November 13, 2011


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