Fight Back! with David Horowitz
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|Fight Back! with David Horowitz|
|Also known as||California Buyline (1976-1977), Consumer Buyline (1977-1980)|
|Created by||David Horowitz|
|Developed by||David Horowitz|
|Directed by||Glen Swanson|
|Presented by||David Horowitz|
|Opening theme||"Fight Back! Theme", sung by Steve Dunn (September 1985 - June 1992)|
|Ending theme||"Fight Back! Theme", sung by Steve Dunn (September 1985 - June 1992)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||<16>|
|No. of episodes||582 (including California/Consumer Buyline)|
|Executive producer(s)||David Horowitz|
|Producer(s)||Lloyd Thaxton, Merrill M. Mazuer (Season 1)|
|Editor(s)||Steve Purcell, Rich Thorne|
|Location(s)||Los Angeles, California|
|Camera setup||Bob Betzner|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Consuming Media, LTD.|
|Distributor||Group W, King Features Entertainment, Paramount Television|
|Original channel||<Syndicated through NBC O&O stations>|
|Original run||September 20, 1976 for California/Consumer Buyline; February 11, 1980 for Fight Back! (pilot episode)– 1992|
|Preceded by||Consumer Buyline|
|Followed by||Money Tonight (special news segments aired from 1994-1995)|
Fight Back! with David Horowitz was a weekly consumer advocate show that ran from 1980-1992. The show, hosted by David Horowitz, attempted to inform consumers about corporations and other big businesses whose products were of poor quality. The format of the show allowed for some humorous segments, such as allowing people to send in photos of unintentionally funny signs (similar to Jay Leno's Headlines). In 1987 the show was awarded best public affairs series for a network station and Horowitz also got the Emmy in the host/moderator category.
Fight Back! made its television debut in September 1976. When the show initially premiered it was shown locally on KNBC television in Los Angeles. At its inception, the show was called California Buyline. This weekly show was one of the first consumer information shows to be taped in front of a live studio audience. Topics on California Buyline ranged from sneaky product labels to money saving tips and ideas.
In mid 1977, California Buyline changed its name to Consumer Buyline, and was nationally syndicated as of January 1978 through NBC O&O stations such as WNBC-TV (New York). Consumer Buyline continued to run until August 1980.
In February 1980, the pilot episode of Fight Back! With David Horowitz was broadcast. As explained in a news article, "Fight Back!" was the same show as Consumer Buyline, but with a "larger budget". The pilot episode featured a segment shot in North Carolina, as well as a commercial challenge of a Volkswagen Rabbit. "Fight Back!" formally replaced "Consumer Buyline" in September 1980.
As before with Consumer Buyline, "Fight Back!" was initially syndicated by Group W Productions, and aired through NBC O&O stations as well as some independent television stations. For the 1984-1985 season, distribution moved from Group W Productions to Paramount Television & King Features Entertainment. As a result, "Fight Back!" expanded into even more markets, and became an instant weekend favorite.
Fight Back! was unusual in the sense that it was a "hybrid" show. That is, it blended hard-hitting journalism with humor. Two of the most popular segments on this show were the "Fight Back! Commercial Challenge" and the "Horror File".
The "Commercial Challenge" first appeared on Consumer Buyline on October 10, 1977. The challenge was that of an Imperial Margarine commercial, which stated that people couldn't tell the difference between Imperial margarine and butter. Horowitz went to an LA supermarket, and had 11 people try crackers with each product on it, to see who could tell the difference. In the end, all 11 people picked the butter over Imperial margarine. The following week was a taste test between Coca-Cola and Pepsi (more people did pick Pepsi over coke). In the 15th anniversary special, it is mistakenly reported that the first commercial challenge aired in December 1977, where David Horowitz decided to challenge a commercial for a Timex watch. Per the commercial, former Timex pitchman John Cameron Swayze strapped a Timex watch to an outboard motor, and raced the motor through a tank of water. At the end of the commercial, the watch was still ticking. Horowitz performed this challenge with two other watches (a Seiko and a Citizen) in front of his live studio audience. All three watches passed the test (despite the Seiko losing its band, prompting Horowitz to exclaim, "We've lost one watch!! The Seiko is in the tank!!"). The Commercial Challenge proved to be so popular, that one particular episode of "Fight Back!" was devoted to nothing but commercial challenges (title of show: "30 challenges in 30 minutes").
Other commercials challenged over the years included:
- Krazy Glue (Tested on multiple occasions, first premiering on Consumer Buyline, where it failed - not once, but twice. Subsequent re-tests on Fight Back! showed the product to pass.)
- Glad Trash Bags (Tested several times. Challenges ranged from bags being kicked down a flight of stairs, to having an elephant step on one. Results varied.)
- Levi Jeans (The famous "Levi's Logo" was challenged in the early '80s and failed miserably.)
- American Tourister Luggage (A gorilla threw the suitcase around, trying to damage it, or pop its lock. It passed with flying colors.)
- The Club (Failure - the lock was frozen with freon, and broken off.)
- Bic disposable lighters (Lighter was run over by an 8-ton semi. It sill flicked and produced flame.)
- Audi Fox - (Commercial stated that it could outrun a Chevrolet Corvette through a slalom. It failed by a half-second.)
- Oreck vacuum cleaner (Commercial showed how it could pick up an 8 pound bowling ball. Passed.)
The "Horror File" segment premiered around the second season of Consumer Buyline. In this segment, viewers would write in with various complaints about companies or customer service, while others would send in confusing and amusing signs, labels, or ads.
Starting with the second season of "Fight Back!", if Horowitz challenged a viewer's commercial or used his/her letter on air, he'd send a Fight Back! t-shirt.
"Fight Back!" aired its last episode in June 1992.
Sets, taping locations, and theme songs
Fight Back! was taped in front of a live studio audience at NBC Studios (studio 5-P), until the winter of 1987.
There were two sets used. From the premiere episode in 1980 until June 1983, the set was extremely basic: just a riser for Horowitz, a couple of podiums with the "Fight Back!" logo, and a wrap-around studio audience.
Starting with the 1983–84 season premiere episode until the winter of 1987, a more conventional "talk-show" style set was used. This set was wider, with fancier lighting, a nook towards the right-hand side of the set (designed to resemble David Horowitz's personal work office), and a riser with two white chairs and a circular table in between. A large "Fight Back!" logo was suspended on the back wall, between the two chairs. The studio audience was still there, but no longer wrapped around the set.
From December 1987 until its last telecast, Fight Back! was shot remotely, from various locations in and around Los Angeles.
"Fight Back!" also used three distinctive theme songs:
Theme 1: An upbeat instrumental theme song, primarily composed of trombones, drums, and string instruments. Possible flute, too. The first slew of episodes (February 1980 pilot, and all of Season 1 [September 1980 - June 1981]) did not use an opening theme song. Rather, David Horowitz would show various clips of what was going to be featured on that day's episode, with a heavy drum beat playing in the background. Once this was complete, Horowitz would announce himself, and welcome the audience to the show, followed by a brief snippet of the theme song. Assumed to be stock music from the KPM music library.
Theme 2: Extremely similar to the first theme, but with slightly different arraignments and a slightly faster tempo. Starting with the first episode of the 1981–1982 season, clips from past episodes would be shown in the intro, along with the full theme playing. Premiered around the 1981–1982 season. Also assumed to be stock music from the KPM music library.
Theme 3: A brand new theme song premiered for the 1985–1986 season. This theme was written by David Horowitz himself, with LA musician Steve Donn performing vocals, and David Boruff performing the saxophone solos. The theme song proved to be extremely popular with the viewing audience; so much so, that Horowitz would send a 45 rpm album of the theme song to anyone whose letter or commercial challenge was aired. This theme song lasted until the series's end, and continues to be used to this day by Horowitz on his personal website, www.fightback.com.
Since wrapping production of "Fight Back!", David Horowitz has gone on to host a weekly radio show on KGIL 1260AM, a Los Angeles talk station. His radio show "Fight Back!" covers many of the same topics that were covered on his original television shows. One can listen to his program on streaming radio at www.1260.am .
The series was produced by Lloyd Thaxton, a Los Angeles deejay and television personality, who occasionally appeared on camera in such guises as "Dr. Freon" and "Dirty Moore". However, in the first season of episodes, he was not listed in the credits; whether he was with the show or not from the beginning is unknown. He was, however, with California Buyline/Consumer Buyline from its inception. The series also featured actor and wrestler Professor Toru Tanaka as a product tester.
In popular culture
The ALF episode Fight Back involves Willie Tanner appearing on the show after revealing a ripoff car mechanic that kept messing with his car so that he would keep coming back. The secret videotape shows Willie monologuing at Sam (the mechanic) for his role in ruining the American spirit and economy. After the secret videotape handled by ALF and Jake is edited for broadacst and shown on the show, ALF remarks, "They left my best stuff on the cutting room floor!"
The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! episode The Marios Fight Back guest starred David Horowitz in a parody of Fight Back!, with the Mario brothers introducing a new drain-cleaning product with unintended consequences.
- "KNBC Drops Horowitz, Consumer Unit Television: The veteran Channel 4 reporter presents his final report after the station declines to renew his contract." Los Angeles Times, Steve Weinstein, August 22, 1992.
- "Video Quixote Crusades For Consumers", Jay Arnold, The Press-Courier - Sep 22, 1981.
- Aleene MacMinn, "In 39th Annual LA Ceremonies KCBS, KNBC Garner 12 Emmy Awards", Los Angeles Times, May 18, 1987.