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Retrontario’s Cable TV Throwback: November 1986

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We’re pleased to present another look back at Canadian movies on TV by our friends at Retrontario.

Canada’s canary into the Pay TV coal mine was a riveting pop culture jolt when it arrived in early 1983. Competing services FIRST CHOICE and SUPERCHANNEL were forced to combine resources just over one year later as FIRST CHOICE*SUPERCHANNEL , now fondly remembered as the era’s primary delivery system for big ticket Hollywood titles, rare-as-hen’s teeth Can-con, and boobies. Here’s a taste of some of the more exciting moments this $15 per month service offered to content starved ‘80s eyeballs.

NOVEMBER 1986

 

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Not that you can tell from the above Hollywood-heavy monthly preview, but in November of 1986, FIRST CHOICE*SUPERCHANNEL offered up a bumper crop of cool Canadian movies like LISTEN TO THE CITY, LATITUDE 55,  SIEGE (aka SELF-DEFENCE), MONKEYS IN THE ATTIC, SKIP TRACER, ZEN BUSINESS (aka HOT MONEY), HEAVENLY BODIES, MARK OF CAIN and the Nelvana-produced kid’s classic THE CARE BEARS MOVIE.

A few of them (e.g., SKIP TRACER, SIEGE) were almost omnipresent on the channel for the next year or so, and then simply vanished into a cultural black hole where they are still trapped.

Alongside the rare Cancon was some great action fare from Cannon, including the immortal DEATH WISH 3, THUNDER ALLEY, and Boogaloo Shrimp in BREAKIN’ 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO.

Tasty horror titles included RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, DOOMWATCH, SILVER BULLET, THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS, BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW, THE BEAST IN THE CELLAR and SOLE SURVIVOR, while ‘80s comedy was aptly represented by FRATERNITY VACATION, BETTER OFF DEAD, MOVING VIOLATIONS and NIGHT OF THE COMET.

Unlike the mostly automated apps which create modern day schedules, FIRST CHOICE*SUPERCHANNEL’s programmers always managed to create brilliant double or triple bills of the unlikeliest stable mates. Check out the wild action on November 6, featuring TUFF TURF, SIEGE and Chuck Norris’ underrated INVASION U.S.A. That would have been a good night for the boys, pizza and Labatt 50.

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The multiple screenings of SIEGE certainly left a mark: The ultra-violent Eastern Canadiana riff on ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 was the playground talk of the town whenever it screened. As with most violence and nudity laden films carried on FIRST CHOICE*SUPERCHANNEL it would often air in the early evening or late afternoon, guaranteeing a captivated young audience hungry for stories of weaponry and survival. It took on an almost mythical reputation, heightened almost 30 years later by its constant unavailability.

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Siege poster