Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Down the tube: the first luxury TVs

Why am I sitting here in a state of ecstasy? you may ask. Because it takes so little to make me happy.

From somewhere, some hidden trove, some archive, some musty vault, has come a moldy treasure the likes of which I've never seen on YouTube before. Classic Commercials for Defunct Products: 107 videos in all, each running about 15 minutes.

Do you know how many minutes that is - nay, how many HOURS? of musty, fusty, dusty old flickering black-and-white ads, many of them peeled off of kinescopes older than Egyptian cuneiform. . . ?

Some of the best TV ads are ads for TVs, and the earliest ads showcased the television as the central piece of furniture in the living room, if not the whole house. Dancers whirled ecstatically around it, almost as dizzily as if they were in a Tarreyton cigarette commercial. Though this one looks super-high-tech, it's not so remarkable, since Ernie Kovacs was using similar "camera tricks" in the early '50s. The tiny-screen TV on the right is one of the very earliest models from the 1940s.

But this is my favorite: a wobbly, grainy zoom shot of a bleary little screen in a cabinet that looks like it once housed a giant radio. The doors opening on this marvel made for a desperately modern effect. I am not sure what the people are doing onscreen - perhaps dancing at a funeral? It is, of course, made by Dumont, first on the scene and first to go extinct.