Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Reminiscing: TV Land

I really don’t watch a lot of television, although my wife would sometimes like to beg to differ. Really, I don’t watch that much television. There are occasional days where it never even gets turned on. Honestly, when you figure that the average American in my age group watches over 33 hours a week, I am far behind my peers. It’s just about five hours a day in front of the tube. Two hours is about all I can handle these days.

It wasn’t always that way. When I was growing up, I used to watch a lot of television. I probably watched far more than the average in those days. From the earliest time I can remember, there were television shows that grabbed my interest. Beyond Sesame Street and Mr. Dress Up, there were shows that I had to watch every time they were on.

My favorite show as a young kid was Emergency!. There was nothing quite like Roy and Johnny and Squad 51 and Engine 51. I had my own versions of Engine 51. I had (still have, actually) a metal Nylint fire truck that I would get out whenever the show came on. I had all the sound effects ready. No, there wasn’t a battery operated sound button. The sound effects came from my three and four year old self.

My mom laughs when she talks about it. The bottom of my baby sister’s bassinet was the perfect garage for my fire trucks. I would announce at full volume whenever a call came in to my department. Somehow, my sister slept through all the sirens and ruckus when I was re-enacting my favorite Emergency! moments. Sleeping through big events followed her into adulthood. Ironically, she slept through a car taking out a fire hydrant directly in front of her house. The thing bounced in her driveway. Bounced. Anyone who knows how heavy those things are knows that they really don’t bounce. They aren’t Bumbles.

I also used to like Dukes of Hazzard. I wanted to have a car with doors welded shut, race on old dirt roads, jumped over missing bridges, and hang out with Daisy. I liked the action and adventure. Looking back on some of those old shows now, I can’t believe how hokey they were. But as a kid, I was thoroughly entertained. Most of those old shows are terribly hokey, thirty years later.

The go-to show for me in the 1980s was The A-Team. I thought Mr. T was simply awesome, and Murdock was the crazy guy that we all loved. The A-Team was awesome. Well, except for Face. He was annoying. But the rest of the gang was cool. It must have been the action that kept me coming back for more.

Of course, I liked some of those shows like Family Ties and Webster. Sometimes you needed a break from all the chaos and mayhem. Still, shows like Weird Science grabbed my attention, as well as that really odd NBC show, Misfits of Science. I would guess that a young Courtney Cox was my main interest in that show. But, who knows? I can’t find episodes of it anywhere. Probably, that’s a good thing.

While Emergency! was my favorite show when I was little, I’d say that my favorite show of all-time growing up was Star Trek. I’m not one who will try to compare TOS with TNG. I simply loved Star Trek. If an original episode was on, I’d watch it. If Captain Pickard’s group came on, I’d watch it. Even today, on the rare occasions that I watch TV off the antenna, if a Star Trek episode comes on, regardless of which franchise, I will sit down and watch it. Plus, I have them all on DVD or Blu-Ray. I’ve gotten the girls into watching them, too.

Now that we have kids, our television consumption has definitely dropped. Part of it is that we don’t have cable or satellite. It’s just too expensive. Another part is that there aren’t many shows that I feel comfortable in letting the kids watch. There are a lot of questionable morals on display. Sure, they’ll all be introduced to some of the things portrayed on TV at some point, but seven years old is not that point. Instead, we just try not to watch anything.

I truly believe that the golden age of television is behind us. With so many options and so many new shows being made, the quality isn’t there for the most part. How does that Bruce Springsteen song go? “There’s 57 channels and nothing on.”

Sometimes, I find myself checking out the classics. I tried to get the kids into The Munsters when it
was on Netflix, but they didn’t really like it. The same went for Happy Days and Gilligan’s Island. They did absolutely fall in love with Little House on the Prairie. They loved it so much that they have the books and we had to visit Genesee Country Village when Karen Grassle was the special guest.

What were some of your favorites growing up? Have you tried going back and looking at them with an adult eye and wonder what you were thinking when you were younger? Do you try to get your kids or grandkids interested in your old favorites? What did they think?

Craig Bacon spent the weekend not watching television. And not writing, really. It was a long weekend off for celebrating our 20th anniversary.