"The Dark TV Vault Is Real" Talkback

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I am a DuMont production.
I have about 50 or 60 tapes from 1983-2007 or so. My own little Dark Vault. My parents got the first VCR in 1979, but I haven't found any tapes from that far back. One I suspect was from 1981 broke and mom threw it away. She wants to throw all our VHS tapes away, but I won't let her.


I have a bunch of tapes from the late 80's and early 90's I got from a relative. A lot of them are special stuff like 20/20's 10th anniversary show, Letterman's 8th, Carson's 28th, etc. and a few awards shows. Unfortunately for me, much of the early stuff she taped was incomplete (e.g. A Tribute to Ricky Nelson is missing the beginning and end) and stuff with commercials was mostly limited to late-night old movies (e.g. WXYZ, the Detroit ABC affiliate, ran what seemed to be the entire filmography of Abbott and Costello during the dead hours) and Arsenio Hall episodes (sort of like how your dad taped every Instant Recall) that came on when she wasn't around so she had to set the timer. But nonetheless I'm very happy with what I have, and much of what I already digitized is already working its way around the trading circles.
All we've got in our basement are lots of old wrestling tapes my dad has from the 90s. Not much else. And that Instant Recall thing is obscure, it don't even have a Wikipedia page- and it was produced by King World. King World!
The white stuff you see on your VHS tapes is mold. Often it does come off when you play the tape in your VCR, but keep in mind that all that stuff is still going to end up somewhere, and there is a serious risk of gunking up your VCR (although maybe you're prepared for that since you're using a "dummy"?) and/or causing the spores to spread from tape to tape.

This blog has an article on cleaning techniques for VHS mold; might be useful to you: http://www.lunchmeatvhs.com/blog/rescue-your-awesome-analog-treasures-from-moldy-malfunction-with-help-from-tapehead-chip-parton/
Mold- it loves basements. Especially after flooding. About a month ago, I had to go help my dad (who mainly powerwashes mold off of houses) clean out a basement crawling with black mold- the old guy who lived there had put off cleaning it out after it flooded, kicked it and then his son-in-law called us. We needed those crazy spacesuits and respirators- and every so often we'd have to head outside ans take them off so we wouldn't drown in our own sweat. Thankfully Dad Cal-Brited the hell out of that basement the next day.

Zorak Masaki

Well-Known Member
My family got their first vcr in 1984 if i recall (at least, we do have home movies from Christmas of that year, so it must have been around that year), but the oldest tv-taped show we have is a copy of Close Encounters taped off tv, but unfortunately all the commercials were edited out. Oldest one we have with commercials is a 1987 (or 1988) copy of Snoopy: The Musical, but i havent watched that one in ages due to the quality on it deteriorating.


Is this the future?!?
Staff member
Just read your article, loved it! Is most of what you have "time capsule" type tapes, where an hour (or 3 or 4) were recorded, complete with commercials, or does you have tapes with whole series?

I recently posted about going through my collection of VHS tapes that I found. My collection is MOSTLY TV series I recorded on VHS. My technique would be to record the show with one VCR and then later recorded it off to another "series collection" tape, editing out the commercials (though I would usually keep promos, bumpers, and commercials at the start of the tape, or as bonus material at the end of a tape).

My father had his own VHS collection, mostly from the late 80's and early 90's - we got our first VCR in 1985 or 1986, I want to say...He would record movies that aired on TV, mostly (I remember watching "Clue" and "A Christmas Carol" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" for the first time by way of these recorded TV broadcasts).

After recovering my own VHS collection from him last week, I asked him a day later: "Whatever happened to your VHS collection, dad, from the 80's and early 90's?" He said he thinks they pitched it or gave it away at some point in the late 90's or early 00's, with VHS becoming "obsolete". :sad:

Peter Paltridge

Ay Carumba
Staff member
I've reached late 1991, and I'm now at the part where they start talking about My Girl. The first report I see, someone flat-out says "Macaluay Culkin dies in this movie." This is before the film came out. Heh.

Hard Copy decayed into a peep show rather quickly. They have this big opening depicting reporters rushing around and people frantically typing and such, and then the top story is "Somebody is in a bikini and a thong."

The other syndicated shows do it sometimes, but not as often as Hard Copy abuses it. In terms of Early 90's Shameless Sleaziness: Hard Copy > Current Affair > Inside Edition > ET. That's the reason the latter two are still on.

When you watch Current Affair with the sound off, every episode looks like this:
Picture of modest house with unkempt weedy yard, which turns black and white as the camera zooms into it
Picture of woman
Picture of happy family
Picture of mother on cover of Playboy
Grainy video of father being shoved into police car
Random ugly person being interviewed
Woman walking down the street in slow motion
Shot of someone speaking in silhouette
Woman in swimsuit
Shot of cassette tape being played with a transcript of a police call over it
A different ugly person being interviewed
Woman in swimsuit again
Maureen O'Boyle, then commercials for paper towels.


I was looking over the .txt file of your ET episodes and other stuff, and noticed a large gap between late 1988 and late 1990. Meaning you probably haven't digitized the stuff about Jim Henson's death (among other things) yet. I'd ask, but that period would probably have been in another part of the basement.

Peter Paltridge

Ay Carumba
Staff member
Nope, I haven't found those yet. I do have to say that three boxes of tapes were destroyed by a water heater flood years ago, so something will turn up missing -- I just don't know what yet.


Kiratto PriChan, On Air!
Congratulations on being able to keep the tapes! I don't have as many recorded tapes as you do...


I JUST NOW noticed that you updated the txt file at the end of the article with more stuff. Including some things from 1989 and early 1990! I would talk more but my computer is excessively slow.

Peter Paltridge

Ay Carumba
Staff member


The last 2 1/2 years have been very stress-inducing and annoying. The world really has it out for old VHS tapes, for some reason.

There is a little hope, though: in doing research to finish up this article I came across a video that shows EXACTLY what to do if this EXACT D-VHS unit goes south:
Maybe I can show this video to a repairman and get an estimate based off it. Or I can learn how to solder, but....


I'm glad you got your dad's tapes, & I'm glad you finally got a working player. Sorry it was such an ordeal.

If all else fails, use tape!

(And I hope those other tapes show up too. If the guy died, chances are a relative knew what he was up to. If he's gotten sick he can get better.)


Kiratto PriChan, On Air!
That was a pretty neat story. I can't wait to see what you find next! And I hope your dad gets better...

Peter Paltridge

Ay Carumba
Staff member
The YouTube video was a dead end; I took the power supply brick out and had it inspected to see how many capacitors were in there. Turns out there are over 50. It's not a project for an amateur at soldering and I can't afford to pay someone to take on something that big.

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