Earlier today, I posted five Oprah Winfrey Show ads that ran in an issue of TV Guide exactly twenty-three years ago this week. Those were fun and all, but of course TV Guide has more to offer than just Oprah. There’s a whole variety of amusing, dated, and amazingly dumb ads to be shared; and so I fired up my scanner yet again this morning, and voila — we now have another handful of goofy advertisements to enjoy from that same issue. If you’ve ever wanted to see where all the clichés about dumb sitcoms and their even dumber marketing come from, it’s all right here
My favorites after the jump…

Here’s a fairly standard ad for a typically kooky ’80s sitcom: two black guys, a faux-Judge Reinhold with a surfboard, a grizzly old man who can be a mentor to today’s wacky youth, and, of course, the beautiful Randee Heller. However, what makes this ad truly notable is the dude on the left. Recognize him? Maybe take a look at his name. Yup, that’s Chip from Chip & KIm, a.k.a the winners of The Amazing Race 5. Booyah!

Gotta love this stereotypical ’80s cigarette ad. Plus, you know this model is clearly a cougar now, AND trolling around in the same dress with the same hair with the same sultry lady pose. If such a woman slinks up to you and whispers “Dare to be More,” run away. Quickly.

Who doesn’t love a little vintage Golden Girls? You got Dorothy in her classically “MA!” position, Sophia with her “This one!” smirk, Rose about to tell us about St. Olaf, and Blanche all in a fluster about some hottie 55 year-old stud. Girls DO just wanna have fun!

This ad begins and ends for me with Dixie Carter announcing “We’re smart and sassy.” ’nuff said.

Gotta love the not-so-subtle phallic imagery used to promote William Devane’s masculine fighter-pilot character.

I don’t really know what’s going on here, but it involves Cicely Tyson in some strange way (not to mention James Brolin); so I’m on board.

This ad is sort of what it’s all about. At first glance, it appears to be a detective show starring Michael Nouri (Summer Roberts’ dad on The OC). It’s got that hardboiled name — Downtown — and the text at the top claims that this is an “adventures series.” But then look closer: who are those crazies in the polaroid? Is Nouri investigating a criminal syndicate that’s posing as an improv troupe? Well, luckily there’s a tagline written in typically cheesy ’80s fashion: “He’s a tough cop with a job that just got tougher. Now he’s got four misfits on parole… and on his case.” Well played, CBS. So I guess it’s a comedy? But an adventure? And a cop show? Yes, this show looks like a disaster, but you gotta admire anything that crams Robert Englund (a.k.a Freddy Krueger) into a small box with a then-unknown Blair Underwood and MARISKA HARGITAY! Yes, that’s her.

Finally, my favorite ad. It’s for “The Last Giraffe.” I love not only the name of this Very Important Film, but also its ominous tagline (“The most dangerous enemy was man!” IF ONLY WE HAD KNOWN!!!!!). Who wouldn’t want to see a movie about the dwindling giraffe population on Earth? Besides, with those two wistful and romantic leads, I’d be loathe to change the channels. But my absolute favorite part of this ad are the two giraffes that have been plopped randomly and awkwardly throughout the box. One looks like it’s giving the woman a little love peck. The other’s just… THERE. I’m shocked this movie didn’t break ratings records, not to mention spur on an unnecessary giraffe conservation movement.

And in case you missed it, don’t forget to check out the Oprah ads from the same TV Guide here.

12 replies on “Eight Amazing Ads From A 1986 Edition of TV Guide”

  1. Can you please, please, please find a way to track down vintage issues of TV Guide and make this a regular feature?

  2. love the giraffe movie ad, but the Michael Nouri one is the starngest, because of the polaroid in the corner. Are we to believe the older white woman in the right corner is a parolee? Was she the madam of Mariska & Blair, and Freddie Kruger was their client, and they went to jail together and paroled together, only to reform the band once they got out? I MUST know about the older white lady. It makes the whole thing so mysterious.
    But the Golden Girls ad? So poignant. Love.

  3. The best thing about the giraffe ad – this movie airs not once, not twice, but THREE times!!!!!

  4. Amazed there wasn’t any mention of TV’s Favorite Cousins Larry and Balki.
    Being the geek that I am, I imdb’d (yes it can be a verb) the two shows that intrigued me the most:
    Downtown: LAPD officer Forney serves double duty supervising four widely differing parolees living in a half-way house. He tries to get them jobs; they try to help him solve crimes.
    The Last Giraffe: An American wildlife photgrapher and her husband, a safari guide in Kenya, set out to save an endangered giraffe after its mother had been killed by poachers.
    Actually the ads make me want to watch the shows, the descriptions don’t. No wonder none of these shows made it.

  5. B-Side, I feel terrible. Just last week our programming director retired after 30 years. She spread out her collection of TV guides she acquired going back to the late 70’s and invited anyone to take anything they wanted. They were fun to look at, but I just didn’t have room to store them so I only picked up one issue…the week my son was born in 1986. Most of them were still left at the end of the week and I believe they all got donated or trashed.
    Oh what fun we could have all had.

  6. Funny you remember Michael Nouri was the Summer Robert’s father but he is rather famous as the boss in “Flashdance”

  7. So, in news that is NOT shocking, we have Geraldo to blame for the excess of jackassery – er, passion! – in TV news today. Fabulous.

  8. The Intimate Encounters would have been better if only we had the name of the bare-chested hunk framed in the window.
    I really thought the guy in the box with all those other stars was Jim Belushi. Did you know they’re remaking Nightmare on Elm Street and Robert Englund isn’t in it at all? Jackie Earle Haley (the tough kid from the original Bad News Bears movie) is slotted for the Freddy role. There’s supposed to be more background as to why Freddy became Freddy.

  9. Hmm…Giraffe man looks like Ewan McGregor circa Star Wars Episode II (I had to look it up, so I’m totally not a dork. I swear).
    My fav is “Better Days”…..white kid moves to tough (black?) neighborhood, hilarity ensues.

  10. For some reason, my favorite part of the “Last Giraffe” ad has to do with KHJ/Channel 9’s slogan. “WE’RE COMING ON STRONG. JUST WATCH.”
    Sounds like a threat to me. Fuck you, KHJ.

  11. Just happened upon this site and loved it. For anyone that might be interested, I just posted an ad on Craigslist to sell several hundred TV Guides from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. No set price… just best reasonable offer. If anyone is interested, I’m located in the Los Angeles area and can be contacted at Thanks.

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