Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Memory Bank: TV-PIXX (1981 - 1982)



I was watching my six-year old son Joel play Galaga on Roku last week, and I wanted to tell him when to fire his rocket's weaponry.  So I started spontaneously shouting “Pixx! Pixx! Pixx!” and he looked at me from across the sofa like I had gone nuts (or "mental" in his terminology).

Daddy, why are you shouting Pixx?” he asked me.

I was shouting Pixx, of course, because I was remembering a weird telephone game show TV program from the early 1980s called TV-PIXXX

This “Ultimate New Game Show” aired on WPIX-11 (“11 Alive!”) in the early 1980s, often on afternoons following school.  I understand that this particular game was based on another telephone-based video game program called TV-POWWW, which first aired in Los Angeles on KABC-TV in 1978.



The TV-PIXXX program was hosted by Ralph Lowenstein, and lasted only a few minutes per episode, running essentially as filler between television series. But the premise of this game show was that the studio would telephone a kid at home while simultaneously broadcasting an Intellivision video game. 

Once the game began, the contestant on the telephone would have to shout “Pixx!” at the appropriate moment to shoot a ball in a basketball hoop, or fire a laser in some Asteroids game knock-off. 

I still possess vivid memories of hearing young contestants endlessly shout “Pixx!” at the TV screen on TV-PIXXX in hopes of winning a station-brand T-shirt or a ten-dollar savings bond.  I remember that prospective contestants for the program had to send in stamped post-cards with their names and addresses printed on them if they hoped to be picked to play on the air.


I also remember sending a postcard to the station myself, but I was never selected to play Intellivision and shout Pixx at the screen. 

And yet, the (admittedly odd…) memory of this unusual game show has never left me, even after all these years.  I tried explaining this all to Joel, but it was just too bizarre.  He wondered why we wouldn't just play the games we wanted on the TV, or on the iPhone... 

Below, a recent retrospective of TV-PIXXX, and then a brief commercial, courtesy of YouTube.





2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post. I was instantly transported to my babysitter's living room as a gradeschooler, sitting on the floor in front of her wooden console TV, hearing kids frantically yelling "Pixx!" at that space game while trying to shoot what looked like Cylon battleship knockoffs.

    Looking back, I feel bad for the poor schmuck at WPIX who had the task of pressing the fire button when the kids would shout "Pixx."

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  2. Duanne1:11 PM

    We had our own version of this in Chicago. Bozo's TV Pow, shown on our beloved Bozo's Circus on WGN Channel Nine. Bozo (Bob Bell) would call some random kid and have him say "Pow!" to shoot a moving target.

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