Pool scene from "Fast Times" in the age of scrambled subscription TV


That is awesome. I had a friend who figured out that if you poured water over the filter, it would short circuit it. then it was a fight as to who was standing outside with a pitcher of water and who got to watch television.


If there was a day I could pick out in the world where I discovered I straight, it would be the first time Pheobe Cates arose from the waters like Venus.

Ah, the good old days of trying to watch scrambled TV late at night. Eventually I would give up and fall asleep on the couch while watching Night Flight on the USA network instead.


ONTV’s scrambler sometimes just seemed to split the screen down the middle and swap the right and left sides. Luckily, the human body is relatively symmetrical so right, left… either way we got to see some illicit skin.

It kinda harshed my buzz when the scrambling made the dialogue sound like this guy:

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Not to get off topic, but I need to find a way to dam the flood of memories. Every time someone mentions Night Flight on the USA network I almost have a nostalgia-induced seizure. Especially when it comes to the short-lived Dynaman, the badly dubbed Japanese serial that I was pained to see gain a second life as the much less amusing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

Although there was also the planned sleepover at the house of a friend who had Cinemax so we could stay up and watch Paradise with Cates and Willie Aames…


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That’s weird. Isn’t it usually video inversion and suppressed sync? This picture is way too stable.

We had OnTV in Chicago that would broadcast on UHF channel 44. We also had a pirated build-it-yourself decoder box (my uncle built circuit boards). During sleep-overs we’d spend many-a-hour trying to watch the extra scrambled signal of the late night soft-core after hours movies. It was a successful night if you got to see a complete boob. Ah, we were curious little sixth-graders!


I had one of those old VCRs where you could manually tune in the stations with the little wheels. Worked great for getting the best view of the scrambled channels. I recall watching Heavy Metal for the first time like that. Nothing much wrong with the picture other than color and occasional jumpiness.

It’s a good thing the young are resilient; that’s the only reason I don’t have a permanent crick in my neck from trying to look past the scramble with a tilted head.

Well, , nice to know that I’m not epileptic…

Interesting how different this is from HBO scrambling in the early 70’s (when you had a small, dedicated box attached inline to your VHF antenna connections with a special, dedicated antennae). The audio there wasn’t touched at all, but the video was beyond the simple inversion that appears to be employed here. Seems like that would be more what you want, video completely unwatchable and who cares on the audio:


I was a big Night Flight fan. Fantastic Planet, Webb Wilder, and DYNAMAN!
Glad to see someone else recalls it. I was able to tape one episode of Dynaman and lent it to a friend, whose sister promptly taped over it. However, Dynaman never became a MMPR show.

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HBO presumably was working with a full bandwidth signal. This service needed to work with VCRs.

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Hmmm. We had a VCR at the time ('75) and were able to record the HBO signal (when the descrambler was switched on) with no issues. It required an A/B switchbox inline pre-descrambler if you wanted to watch other channels while recording HBO, but it was no problem.

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The only scrambling I remember from the 70’s and 80’s was the type that HBO and others were using where they modulated the video signal, as @BrickGun posted. The audio clipping here sounds strangely like the “Russian Woodpecker”.

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