July 1st, 2008
11:43 AM ET

The new UHF

In a 500-channel universe, there truly is a channel for everything.

Looking for old movies? Turner Classic Movies and American Movie Classics - not to mention the various Encore channels. Trying to build something? You may find an answer on the Do-It-Yourself Network. There’s golf on the Golf Channel, animals on Animal Planet and history on what’s now simply called History.

And now there’s a channel for long-ignored old TV shows.

Sure, TV Land offers plenty of old shows, the likes of “Bonanza” and “Little House on the Prairie” along with old standbys such as “I Love Lucy,” “The Andy Griffith Show” and “All in the Family.” But what about “Rawhide”? “Mission: Impossible”? “It Takes a Thief”? “Cannon” (A Quinn Martin Production)?

Late last year, I was visiting my brother in Chicago. He was showing off his new HDTV and pulled in this odd channel that had all of these shows (along with others, like “Bonanza,” that also air on TV Land). Turns out it was RTN, a broadcast channel that’s been airing on local stations’ secondary digital feeds. RTN is part of the digital cable lineup in Atlanta, and I would imagine that’s true in many other cities.

RTN’s lineup reminds me of what you’d find on an old UHF independent channel 25 or 30 years ago: the entertaining cast-offs that the wealthier local affiliates had let go in favor of more recent syndicated successes. (Given the rise of cable, “UHF” has little significance anymore … unless you’re still trying to manipulate your rabbit ears.) UHF stations needed cheap programming and lots of it, and that meant running oft-seen reruns in bulk.

With RTN picking up those ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s series, it seems that the next step will be running ratings failures. (Trio gave it a shot with “Brilliant But Cancelled,” but the cable network went under. “Brilliant But Cancelled” continues as a blog.) Will someone air “When Things Were Rotten”? “United States”? The second episode of “You’re in the Picture,” in which Jackie Gleason spent the entire half-hour apologizing for the FIRST episode? (Some of this sort of thing is available from the Museum of Broadcast Communications - check it out.)

Eventually, all this material will end up on a Hulu-type site and then we can surf to our heart’s content. (Hey, Hulu already has “I Spy”!) In the meantime, you’ll have to excuse me. I think “Love, American Style” is on.

- Todd Leopold, CNN.com Entertainment Producer

(Addendum, 2:30 p.m.: I notice some shows people are mentioning are available on TV Land, RTN or online services such as Hulu. Be sure to check out their Web sites - you may find what you're looking for. And if you don't, send them e-mails. Who knows? That "Montefuscos" marathon may be on the way.)

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soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Bill

    Everyone want s to go back in time, literally and be that age when they started watching. Life would be some much better and it wouldnt turn out the way it has,today. All will better
    This is a relaxing thought,,a temporary thought but thats part of the enjoyment of these shows

    August 4, 2008 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mark Cosden

    Was I the only one hope that this article was about the wierd al movie?

    August 1, 2008 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Anne

    I think the Apple family show was called Apple's Way. If I remember right Kristy MacNichol was on it.

    July 7, 2008 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Benton Indianapolis, In

    i know i am only 28 yrs old, but i remember when nick-at-night was good and they showed all the old shows. i remember car 54, i spy, the many loves of dobbie gills, the donna reed show, f-troop, mr. ed. all the good shows. now all they show are shows from the late 80's to early 90's. but like everything else in life it changes with the times.

    July 7, 2008 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Madmark

    Remember that the threshold for syndication is usually 100 shows. Those low-episode-count series typically don't make it so you'll never see 'em on any of the 'old tv' channels.

    Some of the shows were better in memory than they were on tv! (nostalgia loves to edit) Remember, they all stopped airing for a reason – usually low ratings!

    Many of old series are unacceptable for modern sensibilities. Shows that have servents of color or that have lots of smoking and drinking are just no long PC and TV providers are low-risk creatures by nature.

    Cable TV seems to have a dedicated channel for just about every sport and genre of show. Lots of cable co's have channels that might as well be called the CSI, or L&O, or "high school football" channel. One side effect of this is that the channel lineup, while extensive, never seems to change. One channel shows one series over and over. So every time you go to that channel they are showing "X". And if you don't like the "X" show, you'll never stop on that channel because that's all they show.

    Turn off the TV/Computer/Internet. Go OUTSIDE and PLAY! There's a whole *REAL WORLD* (and NOT the TV show of the same name) out there and have *REAL* adventures. After all, the first step of any adventure is out the door!

    Tampa, FL

    July 7, 2008 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cece

    Magilla the Gorilla – try Netflix.

    July 7, 2008 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    How about "The Fugitive"? At the time it aired the finale was the most watched TV show of all time.

    July 3, 2008 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Monte

    Many of the shows that being mentioned are on already. Hogan's Heroes had been playing on TVland for several years. Night Gallery is on "Chiller" network (via Directv) as is Alfred Hitchcock. Earth 2 was on Scifi a few years ago along with "Roar". There are several others mentioned which have been broadcast in the past few years on numerous other channels. I know I've seen What's Happening and Good Times for example. The lesser known shows would be interesting as well though. I've enjoyed a feature on some DVDs and some channel should include them as well and that is the original commercials which aired with the stars of the show. I've seen them for Andy Griffith for example and they used to run them on Nick at Nite.

    July 3, 2008 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rob

    Get a Life was available on DVD, but it is out of print now and has been for quite some time. I hope they reissue it, I loved that show too. Way ahead of its time!!

    July 3, 2008 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ron Howerton


    I recall seeing Magilla Gorilla on the Banana Splits in the early 70's. You might try looking for DVD of it on Amazon.

    July 2, 2008 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Maureen

    Shawn – I went to both iffor.com and loffer.com and can't find the website?

    July 2, 2008 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. Maureen

    Don P-B there's a website with Adventures In Paradise DVD's

    July 2, 2008 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  13. Maureen

    KSBrenda – Mystery Science Theater 3000 was hilarious! There was only one other person I know that shared the humor with me though.

    July 2, 2008 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. Maureen

    Neal Ardman – is RTN available in Orlando? Do you have any "The Pancake Man" starring Hal Smith (Otis the drunk for Andy Griffith) This was a show aired in the 60's in NYC sponsored by IHOP (International House Of Pancakes) or would you know how I could research it – I've heard there were even records made of the Pancake Man song he sang.

    July 2, 2008 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. Maureen

    Bob this website has the complete Boris Karloff Thriller series on DVD

    What about all the old Vampire movies on a rainy Saturday afternoon with Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula!!!

    July 2, 2008 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  16. KSBrenda

    It's probably not old enough, but Mystery Science Theater 3000 is one that I miss very much. There is nothing better than kicking back on a Saturday and laughing until your side hurts.

    July 2, 2008 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  17. LadyB

    I would love to see some of my favorite shows like 'Earth 2' , "Covington Cross', 'Space: 1999', or 'Roar'.

    'Max Headroom' would be way cool, too.

    July 2, 2008 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  18. neal ardman

    At RTN we NEVER cut up the shows. When you watch a show on RTN you will see every frame as it aired the first time on network tv. It is our pledge to you.

    July 1, 2008 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  19. elly

    and maybe one magical day, hulu will stream outside of the u.s. right now, it's about as accessible to me as those robot servants i was promised to have by the 21st century in all those old popular science magazines.

    i miss an early-90's kids show that aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. it was called "the odyssey" and was awesome because i've never seen another sci-fi drama...for kids. it didn't talk down, it was rather dark, it was great. it also wasn't very popular, and suffered in the area of distribution by being canadian...i haven't seen it anywhere since it went off the air.

    as for other stuff i grew up with, i'd love to be able to show my niece and nephew episodes of "today's special" and "the muppet show"! and a cartoon about fish private eyes called "sharkey and george".

    anyone know a late-70's or early-80's show called "tour of duty"? it followed a platoon in Vietnam, and had james woods as the squad medic who was a conscientious objector, making an interesting dynamic as it meant the other guys couldn't trust him to cover their backs in an emergency, since he wouldn't shoot back. the theme song was "paint it black". and best of all, it's not forgotten, as the history channel airs it in full every few years!

    July 1, 2008 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Amy

    Hope Verizon picks this up too!

    Granted, Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew is on DVD now but I would love more of the 80's shows too – like Matt Houston, Manimal (okay, only 8 eps but still), it would by fun to see MacGyver without having to get the DVD's.

    Aside from a begging for Matt Houston, I'd also love:

    Dark Shadows (the 1991 remake)
    Mission Impossible (remake)
    Nearly Departed (er, there may have only been 6 eps to that)
    Cutter to Houston
    did I mention Matt Houston???? 😀

    July 1, 2008 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Paul S

    How about Coronet Blue? In '67 I loved it.

    July 1, 2008 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  22. DeprivedDaria

    How about "Shazaam" & "Isis"?

    July 1, 2008 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Scott

    Don't forget "MY LITTLE MARGIE". It was a summer replacement for 'I LOVE LUCY" and was so funny. Good comedy never goes out of style!

    July 1, 2008 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Troy

    Anyone remember a show in the early 80's called "Darkroom"? It was alot like Twilight Zone. It only ran for a couple years but it was excellent.

    July 1, 2008 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Deb

    Anyone remember "It Takes A Thief" with Robert Wagner? Fred Astaire played his father during on e season

    July 1, 2008 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  26. george

    3-2-1 Contact
    Pee-wee's Playhouse

    July 1, 2008 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Sasha

    LIVE IN THE NOW!!!!!

    July 1, 2008 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  28. leggs67

    I'd add Maverick and The Saint

    July 1, 2008 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Gil Bert

    Hey..what about early morning shows..espceically weekdays and saturdays...
    Bananna Splits?
    Sid/Marty Kroff shows
    -Far Out Space Nuts
    Space 1999
    etc...I wish they could re-run all the shows from the 70's and 80s commercial free. It is said they hack those shows to accomodiate those commercials for 'money'.

    I am always buying DVD of old shows to replace today's shows that are not up to good standars. No I am not a goody two shoes person, just that my daughter is growing up with junk on TV and I envision that shows like TV Land or ENT would allow us to set good examples of entertaining shows and innocent dialog without negative connocation.


    Oh..what about:
    Emergency 51
    Howdy Doody
    Skipper Chuck Show
    Mickey Mouse Club...yeah..those were good

    July 1, 2008 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  30. noname

    What about Dark Shadows, Outer Limits, Columbo, Laugh-In, Petticoat Junction, Romper Room, Whats Happening, Flip Wilson Show, Richard Pryor Show, The Honeymooners, Big Valley, Zorro, Cisco Kid,

    July 1, 2008 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Sean

    M Squad with Lee Marvin.
    Highway Partol with Broadrick Crawford.
    The BEST!

    July 1, 2008 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  32. David

    I miss some of the old westerns from the 50's & 60's. Maverick, Have Gun Will Travel, Wagon Train, Sugarfoot, Wanted Dead Or Alive, Gunsmoke. Hasn't been a good western series on TV in a long time.

    July 1, 2008 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Bob

    "Boris Karloff's Thriller" – Some of the scariest half hours ever shown. My personal favorite was an episode called "The Grim Reaper" starring a young William Shatner and Natalie Schafer (Mrs. Howell on "Gilligan's Island"). All B&W and very effective!

    July 1, 2008 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Cynthia

    Brian, like the song says, you can't always get what you want. Neither of the two shows I'd pay to have, WKRP and China Beach, are available because of music rights. The version of WKRP without the original music is only half the show, and China Beach would be the same way.

    July 1, 2008 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Anne

    S.W.A.T, Adam 12, Emergency, Circle of Fear, Ghost Story , Night Gallery, and some story about a family with the last name Apple??
    Would love to see some of these shows again

    July 1, 2008 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Triaa

    I've been looking for "Adventures of Grizzly Adams" the tv series for many years now, can't find it on VHS or DVD, anyone seen it on a tv station anywhere? It was only on for a few years. I'll keep on lookin'.

    July 1, 2008 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  37. TP

    Hey, Andrea – Mozilla Gorilla is on Boomerang. I don't know what time, but my kids watch it and the song drives me nuts. Also has the Banana Splint gang and I've caught Hair Bear a time or two.

    July 1, 2008 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Sandy

    Starky and Hutch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 1, 2008 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  39. LouLou

    Definitely would love to see:
    Barneby Jones, Quincy, Streets of San Francisco, Kojack, Starsky and Hutch, Baretta, Switch, Hawaii Five O, Rockford Files, Police Woman need I add anymore? Maybe we are all just trying to recapture something that no longer exists. I'm still a believer.

    July 1, 2008 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Jim

    How about "Yancy Derringer"????? Goes back a few years or another one "Our Miss Brookes"

    July 1, 2008 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  41. shawn

    Make that Ioffer.com .Spelled it wrong the first time.

    July 1, 2008 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  42. shawn

    If you want to get older shows try going to the website iffor.com.They have everything you could possibly want.

    July 1, 2008 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Carlyn

    To Diane:

    Yes, I too loved "Adventures in Paradise" - unfortunately, Gardner McKay died of prostrate cancer in 2001, I believe. Info in "IMDB".

    July 1, 2008 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Maureen

    Brian – you sound like a knowledgeable resource,so do tell me, where do I find a DVD on "The Pancake Man" starring Hal Smith (Otis the drunk from Andy Griffith). This show played around 1965 and was sponsored by IHOP (International House Of Pancakes)

    July 1, 2008 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  45. lance

    Is my favorite show, Chris Elliot's "Get a Life", available on DVD?

    July 1, 2008 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Sally

    Anyone watch The Prisoner?

    July 1, 2008 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  47. JoAnne

    Love, love, love the old "Odd Couple" with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. Used to get it on cable channel 38 out of Boston years ago...haven't found it in ages.

    July 1, 2008 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Kathy Morris

    Yes, Debra, My Mother the Car, Hazel and The Donna Reed Show! I love them but can't find them. Also, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mr. Ed, Car 54? Where are they...?

    July 1, 2008 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Michelle

    How about Mod Squad?

    July 1, 2008 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Brian

    Its called DVD's people. Luckly we live in a world where something like 75% of all tv, the good, the bad, and the truley horrible are available on dvds whenever you would like to watch them, with no comercials. Also NBC has started showing most of the shows they ran during the 70's and 80's here on the internet. Just have to open up your resources. Have a great day.

    July 1, 2008 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Maureen

    noname – I love the same old shows you do. Do you remember Fred from channel one on Capt Kangaroo? Do you remember "The Pancake Man?"

    July 1, 2008 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Dianne

    I remember as a child a show called Adventures in Paradise with a man named Gardner McKay. Does anyone else remember this show and know whatever happened to the star? Think it'll make this channel for the oldies?

    July 1, 2008 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Ella

    I'd love to see again – Honey West (Anne Francis), The Avengers (Dianna Rigg), and Get Smart

    July 1, 2008 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  54. noname

    Loved Ed Sullivan every Sunday night when I was a kid. Anyone remember Howdy Doody, Capt Kangaroo (Mr. Greenjeans) oh don't get me started. Sci-Fi shows Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt, Tales from the darkside. I would love to see Alfred Hitchcock series again. Perry Mason was another favorite

    July 1, 2008 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Todd Leopold, CNN.com Entertainment Producer

    David in Dallas - check out RTN's page. They do have "Hitchcock," and though they don't have "Night Gallery," they do run "Twilight Zone." If you don't have access to it, you know what they say about contacting your local cable provider ...

    July 1, 2008 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Debra

    By the way, Mark in Springfield, Va, Hogan's Heroes just started being aired on TV Land.

    July 1, 2008 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  57. David in Dallas

    How about:

    The Outer Limits
    Alfred Hitchcock Presents
    Night Gallery

    July 1, 2008 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  58. Debra

    How I loved My Mother the Car with Jerry Van Dyke, Hazel, Donna Reed Show, I agree with TVLand not having the great oldies but goodies.

    July 1, 2008 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Maureen

    I've been looking for years for any type of memorabilia from a show called "The Pancake Man". Hal Smith, Otis the drunk from Andy Griffith, was the pancake man. This ran in the 60's in NYC, but I don't know where else. Does anyone remember, or have any ideas – I'd love to get a copy of the record as well as the episodes. IHOP – International House Of Pancakes sponsored it.

    July 1, 2008 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Don P-B

    There was an old show in the late 1950s called "Adventures in Paradise", I think, that I'd like to see again.

    July 1, 2008 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Pk68

    What you forgot to mention was even though TV Land shows a lot of the old shows, all of them are chopped to pieces. I recently went out and bought the first five seasons of Andy Griffith (the only ones that count because without Barney, there was no show) and was shocked to see how much was taken out of the show just so they could fit more commercials in. In some cases they don't show the epilogue for many of the episodes, I've seen many scenes that are completely new to me or ones I had forgotten about.

    It's not just T.V. Land though, local stations that show reruns also show severely edited episodes of classics. The Simpsons is hacked to pieces, the DVD sets proved that, some episodes have as much as 4 minutes taken out, 4 minutes out of a 22 min show?

    And don't even get me started on Classic Star Trek....

    So I would rather the networks get it together and show the classics in their original state or someone needs to create a network that will. Till then I'll continue to go out and by the classic shows on DVD. Of course then you have the problem of whether some of the music has been changed due to rights issues. But that's a whole other story.

    July 1, 2008 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Kathy Morris

    I'd love to see The Jack Benny Show, Father Knows Best, The Loretta Young Show and all others of that era. They're a bit ahead of my time but I enjoyed them in rerun 30 yrs ago.

    July 1, 2008 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Mark, Springfield, VA

    Anyone remember the not too distant "Herman's Head" and "Parker Louis Can't Loose?" Bring back "Hogan's Heroes!"

    July 1, 2008 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  64. noname

    I am so tired of TV Land. I surely hope that Comcast will add RTN soon. As a matter of fact when I pay my bill next week, I will call customer service and find out what the deal is on getting the station. I would love to see Hill Street Blues, Green Hornet, adore Warner Brother cartoons and Hanna Barbera (Flintstones reruns), Soap Channel shows Dallas but I would love to see Falcon Crest and Dynasty again.

    July 1, 2008 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  65. donaldl

    Magilla should be found at his new home, Boomerang

    July 1, 2008 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  66. Billy Williams

    I love RTN. TV Land is getting away from it's roots......I really used to love TV Land.

    July 1, 2008 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  67. joe

    I've been waiting for Police Story reruns for 25 years.

    July 1, 2008 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  68. Eric in Denver

    Please oh please tell me this will be available nationally via Comcast....

    Requesting the following old UHF shows:
    "Mary Hartman Mary Hartman"
    "Chico and the Man"
    "Felix the Cat"

    Any others?

    July 1, 2008 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Andrea

    I'm looking for a cartoon called Magilla the Gorilla that was on during the 70's when I was a child living in Chicago. Can you help?

    July 1, 2008 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Greg in TO

    "Ellery Queen", my childhood favorite. Or "Quark". Or "Paul Sand's Friends & Lovers."

    July 1, 2008 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |

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