Monday, May 6, 2013

Seminal TV shows... mine.

First of all, I would like to wish you all a thoughtful International Clitoris Awareness Week. My thoughts go out to all abused women. I hope it won't be long before women everywhere can feel safe and live their lives in peace and security.

Okay then. Now....

Perhaps, TV is more of a catalyst to the Baby Boomers than since. Yes, generations since them have been inundated with shows on TV, cable, satellite, even the Internet. But in the beginning of TV through the Baby Boomer Generation, there were only about three channels, and they went off the air at 2AM if not sooner.

When a show came on back then, that was it, you saw it or not. It was, it seemed, important. You valued those shows, you gave them more import. You believed more of what you saw and they affected you and the culture far more than happens now.

I can remember when I missed the first time, the beginning of a Star Trek episode in 1967. I was about twelve. We were in the parking lot of the Gov-Mart, a WallMart like store in South Tacoma, Washington. I kept hoping my mother would come back out of the store, get in the car with my Grandmother and me and drive home in time for the opening. She had to talk to a department manager about a vacuum cleaner she had previously purchased for some reason. I maintained hope all the way up until a minute before the show was to start and then, when I realized we would miss the show, I broke down in tears.

We got home about half way through the show and my little brother was watching it when we came in. But I refused to watch the rest of it, not wanting to run the show by jumping in half way and I went to my room, crushed, until it was over. I was miserable for that next week, until the beginning of the next episode and no one, was thinking of keeping me from seeing it that week. Nor was I going to let anyone take me out of he house that day until I saw that episode.

So I think that the shows I saw as a child carved me much more into the person I am today, than the shows now a days can for today's youth. Today we know we can seen the show right after the episode is over, perhaps. Or we can get it "On Demand", or online, somewhere. It's just not a big concern any longer. And between this knew capability and the original shows, someone had invented the "rerun".

I'm not saying today's young viewers aren't affected by TV programming, I'm just saying way back when, it was different. More affecting, overall and in many ways on many levels. Was that a good thing? I don't know. Maybe that is why this country is so messed up? Maybe if we'd had more options as we do now, perhaps things would be better now. Maybe they'd be worse.

So, what shows do I remember now? What shows stuck in my mind after all these years? What shows do you remember from back when? That means, what shows are so affecting that over the decades, it is easy to remember them, or someone about one of those shows from your childhood guide you in your thoughts in some way. Maybe they have something to do with a course change in life and choices that are made. Shows that over all the others that I no longer remember, or would have to "pressure think" in order to remember. Maybe something a character said echoes in your mind from time to time as a guide or mental sign post directing you in a way you feel is right, or courageous. It's something to think about.

Movies and shows for a youth are much like living a real life experience. Were these seminal experiences giving us good paths, or should we consider them and consciously strive to correct them? We should also consider how the shows of today will affect our own children.

What shows do you remember from your own childhood? These are some of mine that come to mind and in no particular chronological or order of importance.

The family shows:

Mickey Mouse Club (obviously, and the original, again... obviously)
The Walt Disney Show (ibid)
Leave it to Beaver (the PERFECT 50s style family)
And many others....

The Westerns:

Daniel Boone
The Rifleman (the seemingly perfect and fallible Dad/Father figure)
Have Gun Will Travel
And many others....

Sci Fi:

Lost in Space (the first five episodes of LIS which were very good Science Fiction but then they degraded into sheer buffoonery much like the Batman TV show did and mostly because of Dr. Smith. The coupling of the boy/robot dynamic was good, but the addition of the antagonist Dr. Smith was unnecessary in my consideration)
Star Trek (in the forever ongoing argument of LIS vs ST, I'd say ST every time)

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (sadly it eventually degraded into the BEM fallback position with a weekly Bug Eyed Monster to hold the young audience, possibly to compete with LIS)

The Comedies (some of these were mere reruns from the 50s):

I Love Lucy (Lucy was my mother's hero as was, and this is scary too, Liz Taylor)

The Honeymooners
Jackie Gleason

The Red Skelton Show
I'm Dickens He's Fenster
Car 54 Where are you?
F Troop
My World and Welcome to it (1969-70 and based on the humor of James Thurber)
Addams Family (in the Musters vs Addams Family comparison, I was an AF... easy).
The Munsters
My Three Sons
Father Knows Best
The Patty Duke Show
Dobie Gillis
Bachelor Father
I Dream of Jeannie (and boy did I and oh so many other males during it's run)
The Monkees
The Partridge Family
Family Affair
I'm sure there are some that are important but are simply slipping my mind just now but have regularly popped into my head.

Variety Sketch Comedy Shows

The Smothers Brothers Show
The Carol Burnett Show
Though I didn't get to see them often, the late night shows had an affect on me whenever I got to see them, The Jack Paar Show, The Tonight Show with Steve Allen and later Johnny Carson)
The Monty Python Show (on PBS here in America)

Then there was a turn for the dark side with police procedurals, adventure shows, and more adult programming:

Perry Mason
Adventures in Paradise - (Captain has a weekly changeable crew of all females)
Ripcord (skydiving)
Route 66
77 Sunset Strip
Richard Diamond
SeaHunt (SCUBA diving)
Checkmate (Detective agency show that had a title sequence I found fascinating as a six year old. I recently got them from NetFlix and watch them to see what it was I liked)
Peter Gunn
The Man From UNCLE
I Spy
The Avengers
Secret Agent Man (Danger Man in the UK)
The Saint
various Doctor shows
And many more of these through the 60s as they were a mainstay of TV

I generally preferred scripted shows and I fear for some children addicted to so called reality shows now a days. There are some great reality shows. Many of which are cooking shows (and many of which are not). Even some shows do some civil good in helping people understand much misunderstood groups, such as "Hoarders" in showing mental illness, it's repercussions on family and friends and how to deal with it. And of course focusing too much on any topic doesn't give one a full view of life. Not that scripted shows in the 50s/60s or beyond have, either for that matter.

How did this affect me in my early adult years? At nineteen I took the exam for the police department. There were too many applicants and only six slots at that time. Within a year I joined the USAF as Law Enforcement. I have flat feet so they cancelled that route while I was in basic training and I ended up a parachute rigger as I had prior sky diving experience. Before I got out I was vetted and accepted as an USAF OSI Agent.

But at the last minute, I got out to get a degree in Psychology. Now I am striving to make a living as a writer and love the entertainment industry (the artistic process, not the business side which I think most of us find rather distasteful). So I think you can see perhaps, how what I watched on TV as a youth affected me. I also grew up seeing USAF planes on the runway several blocks down the street from us at the local MacChord AFB which I think led me into the USAF as opposed to the Navy, Army other some other branch of the military, even those my father had been in the Navy.

In the end it is fun and can be useful to reflect on these shows that have affected us in the past, during our formative years and consider the same for our children.

What is the one show you first think of from your own first five or ten years on this planet? How has it affected you in your life?

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