My new favourite game is VHS roulette. I got rid of most of my old pre-recorded VHS cassettes a couple of years ago, but I’ve still got a core of long play tapes holding stuff that has never been repeated on TV and isn’t available on DVD disc. However, there is a lot of room on those old tapes and you’re never quite sure what you’ll find when you watch them through.
Best case in point is the tape I just tested. My VCR was finished so I needed a new one. I knew they’d be hard to find, but I didn’t realise how hard. I eventually found a 10 dollar second-hand one at a local cash generators. The lady behind the counter says that second-hand VCRs fly off their shelves. There is no profit margin on them, but they sell quickly. I assume that’s because, like me, people only want a cheap one to view a couple of legacy tapes.
So I got this VCR home and I plugged it in. I then rummaged for the first tape out of the cupboard. Would you believe it, it only happens to be an off air recording of the Justice League pilot from the 1990s. (I must do a post on that sometime. The VHS/PC capture gadget is on its way. )
The roulette part was the stuff around the JLA pilot. There was twenty seconds of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Yesterday’s Enterprise” – which it had obviously been taped over – and after it was the second half of a gangster flick (of which I remember the first half being the interesting part). There was also a complete episode of something called Disinfo Nation featuring a drunk Grant Morrison shouting at a convention. A version of that with Spanish subtitles is available on YouTube -
Then finally there was an episode of WWF Heat (I’m blaming this one on my little brother) featuring a guest appearance by Samuel L Jackson as Shaft!?! That must date this to circa 2000, which ties in with Morrison talking about the end of the Invisibles in his interview.
This is something we just won’t have with digital video recorders. They’ll give us perfect reproductions of our shows, but space is limited so we’ll never allow the backlog of random detritus to build up. I wonder how much more TV from the 1980s and 1990s will be preserved due to VHS relics than stuff from later decades.