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The Mad(e) For TV Manifesto

Check out this great special rental section now on display at Scarecrow Video! Hello kiddies, it's time to step back a few decades to an era without cable television or video stores. A time where the networks were three (not counting PBS) and homes around the USA had no choice but to put their trust in ABC, CBS, and NBC to provide the majority of their entertainment needs. Starting in the late sixties and lasting up until the early eighties, one of the staples of the major networks was the made for television movie. ABC kicked the craze off with their beloved ABC Movie Of The Week series that hit the airwaves in 1969. The program was an innovative and award winning hit and soon the weekly television schedule was peppered with similar shows and several made for TV movies were released theatrically in foreign markets, sometimes with added violence and nudity. Many of these films have a welcomed running times of less than 90 minutes but some are much longer. I tried to avoid any lengthy mini-series but a few longer TV movies can be found in the Mad(e) For TV section. The format also gave the networks a testing ground for new series and some shows, like Starsky and Hutch and Kung Fu, got their start as a MOTW. Likewise the program offered an outlet for failed TV series pilots resulting in many 'open ended' TV movies. For the most part I avoided pilots for any successful series, but did make a couple of exceptions. The MOTW format allowed for a wider variety of story topics that ranged from sensitive treatment of social issues to flat out exploitation. A popular theme was adaptations of real-life stories that ranged from biography to history to true crime. There were belated sequels to cinematic hits and plenty of tear jerkers. The low budgets and quick shooting schedule gave these films a certain grittiness and the speedy production schedules allowed producers to promptly address current events and societal fears thus tapping into the moods and mores of American society. Thus begat lots of movies about hookers, drugs, strippers, natural disasters and killer bees. Sometimes all in the same film! Movies of the Week employed an enormous and impressive pool of acting talent (ranging from upcoming starts to stage performers to classic actors and actresses) happy to find a juicy opportunity wherever it may turn up and, as a result, the broad range of talent involved resulted in some mighty wild and impressive casts. This section is filled with a wide range of genres and styles but all share the honor of being MAD(e) FOR TV. Along with the great staff at Scarecrow, two books were extremely helpful in putting together this section and they are both highly recommended. The ABC Movie of the Week Companion: a loving tribute to the classic series By Michael Karol Movies Made for Television: 1964-2004 By Alvin H. Marill