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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Night Flight - TV Made for Me.

Growing up in rural Kansas I didn't have cable televison until I was 13 years old, and even then I only had something like 28 channels.

There was no MTV, but there was the USA network, today home of Monk, WWE, and the 4400. In those days USA had the USA Cartoon Express which showed reruns of old Hanna-Barbera cartoons(this was way before Cartoon Network). Here is an out bumper and an in bumper from that old show.

The USA Network program that I remember most fondly, however, was Night Flight.

I found the show when I was in Jr. High and it was a revelation. It opened my eyes to what else was out there in terms of music and movies and just wild ideas.
Night Flight aired on USA on Friday and Saturday nights from 1981-88 and from 1990 to around 1996 in various forms in syndication.

Without MTV this was my source (Along with NBC's Friday Night Videos) for music videos like Sabbath, Dio and Billy Idol.

Night Flight also featured weird and experimental videos on all kinds of subjects like cult films and Japanese Pop Culture like Dynaman. Dynaman had English commentary over-dubbed for comic effect.

Night Flight was also the only place a guy like me could see experimental films like this Ron and Nancy cut-up extolling the virtues of drug use. Artist profiles like this one on Tom Waits, introduced me to musicians I'd never heard of before. It was also a great source for weird animation like this Schoolhouse Rock style video for Ray Steven's Mr. Businessman.

HERE is an experimental video called 'Buzz Box' that uses claymation and audio mashup techniques.

One Feature of Night Flight that I fondly recall was called Never Coming Attractions, trailers for movies you were never likely to see(at least not at the time).

Night Flight is probably also where I was first exposed to the Church of the Subgenius:

There are a still of fans of the show today.
This Night Flight Fan Site lists and describes the recurring segments on the show such as Atomic TV, Cult Classics, and Heavy Metal Heroes. The site also has a profile of Pat Prescott, the wonderful, distinctive and unforgettable voice that narrated Night Flight. I had a crush on that voice, and I'd never seen a picture of her until I started digging for info for this post.

I have really fond memories of this show, and blame it for many of my weird interests to this day. It is so easy today to find any music video, any cult film, anything you can imagine on the internet, but this show was unique in that it was really the only outlet for a kid from Kansas for that type of weirdness. It was unbelievably cool, and I missed it when it was finally gone. I only saw a few of the syndicated episodes, after it left the USA network, in the very early 90s.

Do a Night Flight Search on YouTube, go back to 1988 and enjoy.

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