An interactive multimedia system with distributed processing and storage of video picture information and associated data and sound in nodes disposed throughout a cable television distribution system. The nodes are coupled to the feeder cable of the cable distribution system. Each node in the system receives a substantially identical copy of the interactive video picture information and related data from a regional processing center. The users at home televisions associated with a particular node interact directly with the video picture information in that node, rather than with the information stored in the regional processing center or some other remote location, which enables the system to quickly display photographic quality images and complex graphics, as well as sound, at the users' televisions in response to commands received by the users. The nodes can also be used for decompressing compressed television programming and distributing the decompressed programming to home televisions connected to the system. The nodes can also be used to distribute customized commercials to television viewers.