Wednesday, June 27, 2007
When I was a kid, back when we were still living in the single-wide trailer on the land where my parents' house now rests, the local ABC affiliate ran a series called The Six-Thirty Movie. This was back when Lynchburg's channel 13 went by the call letters WLVA. (They've since been changed to WSET.) The Six-Thirty Movie ran Monday through Friday at, naturally, 6:30 p.m., right after the evening news. This was back in the days when the local news aired at 5:30 and the networks ran theirs at 6:00, leaving 90 minutes of airtime to fill before primetime began.
The Six-Thirty Movie was a mixed-bag. Each week, there was a different theme. For five days, they'd show different films that more or less "went" together. Popular themes included "GODZILLA WEEK!", "HOPALONG CASSIDY WEEK!", "SCI-FI MOVIE WEEK!" and so on. Some of the films shown were better than others. For instance, for every GODZILLA and RODAN, there'd be SON OF GODZILLA or WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS. Granted, to my young imagination, it was all good. When the movies didn't run the entire 90 minutes, even with commercials, the producers filled out the time with 2 or 3 episodes of the classic OUR GANG shorts, renamed THE LITTLE RASCALS. This was my introduction to these shorts and I loved them.
Sometimes the films wouldn't be films at all but cleverly marketed composites of episodes from defunct TV series. For example, one week was devoted to airings of faux movies with names like RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE APES, TERROR ON THE PLANET OF THE APES and GOIN' BANANAS ON THE PLANET OF THE APES. (Okay, I made up that last one.) Each of these were merely two episodes from the short-lived PLANET TV series re-edited to seem like one seamless movie. This was also the case with my favorite Six-Thirty Movie theme and the subject of my quick little sketch, above: The Lone Ranger.
The movies that aired during the many LONE RANGER WEEK!s were compiled from three separate half-hour episodes of the long-running Lone Ranger TV series from the late '40s to late '50s starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels. I was hooked from my first viewing. I would bide my time during the day in anticipation of that night's movie and, unlike most of my classmates, dreaded Friday because it meant the end of the week and the end of LONE RANGER WEEK! It seemed like forever until the next one. I loved the Lone Ranger so much that I would strap on my fake chrome-plated six-shooter before dinner each summer evening and jump on my bike, which I'd named "Silver" (though it was dark green and had a basket bolted to the handlebars) and streak off down the high hill we lived on, shouting "Hi-o Silver! Awaaaaay!" at the top of my lungs.
Eventually, The Six-Thirty Movie went the way of the dodo. The networks moved their news to 6:30, cutting the after-news slot to an hour. Thus began the days of sitcom reruns and Entertainment Tonight. Though I love the home theater on which I watch movies now, nothing will ever compare to those wonderful evenings spent in front of our sad little 13" black and white television with the rabbit ears and single speaker in front.
Posted by Matt Wieringo at 6:47 PM