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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Doctor (Who), Max Headroom (who?)

First things first - the latest episode of the weekly podcast with a weakly-growing audience, "Podcrapular!", is up and running. It usually hits the world on Saturdays in case you haven't subscribed to any of the feeds yet. You should definitely listen because we're just damn funny this week and if you missed it, you'd never forgive yourself. Here's the player if you don't want to leave my silly old blog.

Moving on...

God Bless the internet. God bless YouTube (for now). God bless Gordon!

Not only is Gordon this week's winner of the "I'm Podcrapular!" Award, but his latest Doctor Who post led me to a series of blog posts and links, which led me to a video or two on YouTube. The reason I'm so happy is that one of the videos is something I remember watching live as it happened, had it on tape, and then lost the tape somewhere through the years.

Back in November of 1987, I was in Marengo watching an episode of Doctor Who, the same thing I did every Sunday night. Suddenly, the sci-fi staple went away and was replaced with images of what appeared to be Max Headroom, flipping me the bird, bitching about Coke & the Chicago Tribune, and making fun of local sports guy, Chuck Swirsky. The icing on the cake was when the masked madman dropped his drawers and some woman with a fly-swatter spanked his ass. 90 seconds later, the image went back to Doctor Who.

What happened? Well it can all be best explained by the rather excellent articles at Damn Interesting and Wikipedia, but I'll give you a short version.

Somebody pirated the TV signal from WTTW in Chicago. Essentially, the guy had his own transmitter, just enough power, and accurate aim towards the TV's antenna. He briefly overpowered the station and broadcast his rather odd joke. He tried to do the same thing a couple hours earlier during a Bears game but wasn't as successful, only stealing a few short seconds of time.

I saw this and was amazed. It didn't hurt that I already had an odd fascination with Max Headroom, but it was just so bizarre. The next day I tried to tell my friends in Hickville, Illinois and nobody believed me. They were already thinking I was a moron for watching a British sci-fi series which featured monsters made from rubber cement. Throw in some story of mooning, bondage, and the Tribune and they all wanted whatever I was smoking.

Fortunately, the story made national news. It was, after all, a federal offense, and only the second & third time in history someone successfully pirated a TV signal in such a manner. I felt vindicated, but always wished I'd kept the tape.

Thanks to Gordon, who mentioned this incident after reading a post at Bloggity-Blog-Blog, who only made mention of it because she read about it at Damn Interesting. Were it not for the internet, Gordon, Bloggity-Blog-Blog, & Damn Interesting, I'd have never found the videos of BOTH the Pirate Incident and the CBS Evening News Story covering the case on YouTube.


As you can see I went ahead and embedded the aforementioned videos in this post for your convenience. However you really should check out all the site links for some better info about this odd memory from 1987. You should also congratulate Gordon on being so damned PODCRAPULAR!


Blogger Bud said...

Truly an astounding piece of broadcast history! I promise to listen to Podcrapular on Wednesday, my travel day this week. I also promise to rent Dr. Who in its entirety and watch it on our new home theater as soon as it's finished.

4:48 AM

Anonymous LisaBinDaCity said...

Andy, I would love to live a day in your head.

8:35 AM

Blogger Andy Land said...

That's funny. I'd like to live a day in your pants.

9:33 AM

Anonymous Older, Wiser Brother said...

I had forgotten entirely about this little piece of TV history. Thanks, L'il Bro for reminding me. P.S....Chris asked if he was pathetic for recognizing which Dr. Who episode it was from that little clip. I told him to get a life!

8:08 PM

Anonymous d-man said...

I got to the 32 minute mark and then the post ended. Guess I forgot to pay my itunes bill...

11:33 PM

Anonymous hellbunny said...

Nothing wrong with Dr Who LOL

8:14 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long live the Beaver....

I can't watch any YouTube links from work- sheesh. I'll check back later!!! Sounds pretty awesome though.

10:49 AM


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