Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Television Memories Lost

Talking about The Addams Family got the old Curmudgeon thinking about the television shows that he grew up with.

When The Blog was a mere blogling, he could have, charitably, been thought of as a television addict. From the time I got home from school until the time I went to bed, I was absorbing cathode rays.

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration. Dinner time, homework time and, in my teens, a job, took me away from the "small screen."

But, in an era before VCRs and DVRs, all of my favorite shows were "appointment TV." I planned my schedule around television. If an episode was missed, you had to wait until summer reruns. And if you missed that, you would have to wait until the show went into afternoon syndication.

It's no real surprise that I wound up with a career in the television industry.

About a year ago, The Blog became the last person in America to, finally, hook up a Tivo.

And, what a gem Tivo (and it's more generic DVR siblings) is (are)!

The Blog hardly ever watches "live" TV anymore. He, mostly, wastes his weekends  catching up on the previous week's shows.

But, Tivo has brought with it, what the political talking heads call "unintended consequences."

You see, when I first started programing the Tivo, I threw in a bunch of show titles from my distant past. Favorite shows of the 1960s and '70s. What a wonderful trip down Memory Lane that would be!



What Tivo has really shown me is, God Damn! Most of the TV I loved as a kid was seriously God-awful!

Not all of it.
All In the Family, M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, (In fact, everything that came out of MTM Productions) and WKRP In Cincinnati are as great today as they were when they first aired. (Bad 1970s fashion not withstanding.)

But, oh, so much of the rest.

The little Blog loved The Monkees. And today, I will tell you that the music that they made was unfairly underrated back then. It has taken decades for the music of The Monkees to get the respect that it deserves. And, considering that that music was written by some of the greatest musical talents of the time, the music deserves respect.

But, Holy Shit! What an awful show. The Blog would be amazed if he learned that more than $15 was spent producing an episode! Ridiculous plots, awful dialogue. But, produced and directed by directing greats like Bob Rafelson!

Hogan's Heroes was a favorite. And, the sordid facts about Bob Crane's personal life aside, an absolutely charming cast. But, WOW! Vaudevillian dialogue, wildly improbable plots and, really, just not funny. (No matter what the laugh track tried to tell us!) An actual slap in the face of anyone who survived the Holocaust or fought in the war.

The worst insult to The Blog's nostalgia trip?

The Partridge Family.

Back in the day, your old PC wanted to be Keith Partridge. He wanted to make-out with Laurie and be BFFs with Danny.

So, watching the show decades later was a bit of a punch to the groin. As a 50 something year old, I found myself wanting to slap the whiney, self-absorbed, precociousness out of all three of them.

I now find myself relating to Rueben Kincaid. That poor, long suffering bastard.

(Okay, I admit that I still like their music, too. Not as awesome as The Monkees and 98% more Milli Vanilli. But, I  make no apologies.)

One more thing. And this will be heresy to many....

I Love Lucy, which was already 15 years old and in syndication by the time the young Blog was first brought to tears of laughter by the exploits of Lucy and Ethel, and is now, still being syndicated, is 95% awful.

There. I said it.

Sure, there are a few iconic moments. The chocolate factory. Wine stomping. The encounter with William Holden.


But, the rest? None of it comes even close to Mary Richards at Chuckles the Clown's funeral. Or WKRP's Thanksgiving turkey fiasco.

The bottom line?

Today's television, (The Jersey Shore, Big Brother and The Real Housewives of Anywhere aside,) is so much better than the "Golden and Silver Ages" ever were.


  1. Carol Burnett is wonderfully timeless. Really old... Burns and Allen. You have to be a genius to play that dumb. Loved it 20 years ago (or more), love it now.

    1. Debbi, you make a good point!

      For pure comic genius, Carol Burnett ran circles around Lucy!

      Mrs. Blog and I, until Harvey Korman's passing, annually attended a performance of Korman and Tim Conway at a local performing arts center. It was, basically the same show every year. Reenactments of old Carol Burnett show sketches. No Carol, sadly. (In the couple of sketches that required her presence, her part was played by a talented impressionist.) But, it never got old!

      We were supposed to have seen Carol in a play at Gary Marshal's Falcon Theater in Burbank. A theater that The Mrs. and I are patrons of. A scheduling conflict forced her to bow out. Disappointing. The part was to have been taken over by Gary's sister Penny Marshal. But, a dental emergency (a shattered molar, if I remember correctly) knocked her out of the show. The role wound up being played by Sally Struthers.

      Burns and Allen were geniuses in a league of their own!