In our household, there are kids’ channels and picture-driven menus that corral my son and daughter to a safe haven of youth programming, and restrictions that prohibit them from most else, if they would even be so inclined to try venturing out of bounds at an early age.
For any other pentagenarians out there, the TV of my youth was navigated via a dial that you had to physically get up and turn and covered all of twelve channels (13 if you counted the “U”). The menu was the TV Guide at home next to Dad’s ashtray. As a kid, you knew when the cartoons were on, as well as general kid-fare, and the few channels that would deliver it. Saturday mornings, and about an hour before and after school was all there was, and even that was relegated to maybe two channels at best. The rest was a roulette wheel of “anything goes”, and the further the clock strayed from those kid times the better the odds were that you would stumble upon something best left unseen.
With that stage set, I remember vividly stumbling upon a rerun of The Outer Limits, one channel away from Philadelphia’s The Wee Willy Weber Show, which showed my favorite cartoon, Milton the Monster. The Outer Limits, in its high contrast black and white, was a great example of a trap show for impressionable young minds of the early 70’s. The episode (as I’ve backfilled with research) was Behold, Eck! – featuring a two-dimensional electricity monster that could only be seen with special glasses, by various forehead-sweaty scientists, and shrieking damsels.
Tame and goofy as it is by today’s standards, it was enough to nightmare me out, come bedtime. The remedy was simple enough….stay away from channel 5 during Wee Willy Weber.(approach the channel counter-clockwise, no less!) But therein lie the problem…I knew it was there, and just one small channel change away. I let it go a few days I suppose as my false bravado built, and debated a quick flick back and forth, for a quick peer into Pandora’s Box. I’m sure I had a few quick back-and-forth’s without any problem as I set approached the inevitable.
But then, of course, in the spirit of William Shatner opening his airplane window shade to be met with the fuselage-ripping Gremlin, I managed to go from this: