Thursday, August 11, 2016

Columbia House Videos Tapes - From The Vault


 

Hello Dwellers and Welcome To The Basement…

 We’re going into the Vault this week… and we’re talking about Columbia House and VHS Tapes…


Before the unleash of DVDs and digital archiving and streaming, if you wanted to get an entire television series, there was really two ways to go about it: either tape every single episode that aired manually (and I spent many Wednesday nights watching Deep Space Nine and Voyager in front of the TV in the living room with my finger on the stop and record buttons)… or hope that VHS tapes were released of the shows you wanted to collect. More often than not, episodes of shows were released maybe random released… but then there was Columbia House.



Originally a mail-order subscription service where people could get to music records, once the home video market, they obviously capitalized on it, with some rather… unique rules… the ‘having to respond’ or otherwise have something mailed to you was a real winner… but as a kid, a big highlight was when my father got ‘new episodes’ of shows, so when the tapes arrived, got to sit down and watch two episodes back to back, and then have to option watch then whenever we wanted (while factoring in rewinding and all that good stuff). So I have a lot of fond memories of watching these tapes, but they are obliviously archaic now a days.

 

 

Some of the shows we ended up getting was Star Trek The Original Series, Star Trek The Next Generation, Star Trey Voyager and The Untouchables. As stated each tape contained two episodes, unless the episode was movie length or if there was another factor, such as the case with this tape of Star Trek Voyager having only just the episode Caretaker on it. Which made things perfect say on a Friday night, could pop one tape in, watch a pair of episodes, rewind the tape and then watch another tape.



One thing one would notice with the casing is that they are pretty tall, actually very sturdy, and protects the tapes nicely, a nice open and casing. But of course one has to make note of the design choice… which was completely uniform in that every tape for a series looked the same. So regardless of the season, the tapes for Star Trek The Next Generation all had the image of the cast from The First Season, and on the back, the ‘screen images’ were also the same, which was just silly. Things were better... for The Original Series, the image made a lot more sense, a painted image of the original cast appeared on every tape, and on the back the screen images matched the episodes in question. The Untouchables also had similar look with Robert Stack’s Elliot Ness, and the rest of main cast, on top of the logo. Star Trek Voyager got an image of Captain Mary Sue… I mean Captain Janeway and the ship with the LCARS design the scrapped around to the back, plus images from the episodes on the front and back. This is actually a great design.

 



Now since most people have tapes on a shelf, or a tape rack, the spine if over what is on display… and on these, we see the shows logo, and the listing of the episodes that particular volume features.

 


The real pain in the ass thing with these tapes is storing them… with series on DVD you just have to deal with a couple of volumes depending on the length of the series… but on the average of two episodes per tape… that was 39 tapes for the original series, 87 tapes for The Next Generation, and so forth… so now a days, they are just collecting dust on the shelves or in boxes, which is thanks to the rise of DVD sets and digital streaming / archiving.



Still for nostalgia purposes… these are still cool to have.



Anyway that will do it for this week, these are going back in the vault… or on the shelf.



Till next time my friends.

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