Missing Retro Prime-time: “Let’s bump up the lights…”

by Lynn on March 9, 2011

It seems the older I get, the more I find mainstream television a complete waste of time.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to find prime-time entertainment that isn’t (for a variety of reasons) crass, spiteful, violent, ridiculous or just plain stupid. Much of current prime-time programming is devoid of an encouraging story line, a well-designed plot, character development, family-friendly humor or (heaven forbid) actual talent.

When I was growing up, many programs had these qualities. My parents loved Gunsmoke, The Mod Squad and Mission Impossible. We kids watched Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, Lost in Space, and The Monkees. During the late 1960s and the early 1970’s, variety shows were all the rage and our family watched several of them. Two of our favorites were the Carol Burnett Show and the Andy Williams Show. These had singing, dancing, comedy routines and featured some wonderfully talented guests. It’s no wonder that so many people look back on this era of television with fondness. Who can forget the antics of Maxwell Smart, the disciplined determination of Steve McGarrett, or the “Go-o-o-lly!” of Gomer Pyle? Even today, “Book-em Danno!” and “Danger, danger Will Robinson!” are part of our vernacular. And who doesn’t know that it was Sgt. Joe Friday who coined the original phrase “Just the facts Ma’am” or that Carol Burnett began each show with “Let’s bump up the lights” so that she could take questions from her audience? I would guess that most people over forty know what those references mean. Yes, those were the days and many of us remember those programs with fondness.

During that era, Saturday evenings were our family nights of take-out and prime-time television. Saturday was house-cleaning day, and the whole family was expected to pitch in (I know, what a novel concept). There was nothing like a day full of chores to make Saturday evening an event to look forward to. Take-out dinner gave Mom the night off from cooking, and Lori and I the night off from doing dishes (whoo-hoo!). Dad would pile us all into the car and we’d head out for El Juan’s, a dinky little place that had been there forever, and had the best Mexican food around! (It’s still there by the way, and the waitress who used to wait on us when we were kids, recently retired after some 30+ years at the restaurant). With our food securely packed “to go” we would return home and set up the TV trays. The family room had been an addition to our modest tract home, and was decorated in the latest mod design for the early 1970’s. It featured a rock-wall fireplace with a stone-seat hearth, wood paneling and the ever-popular bright orange shag carpet. Mom and Dad would quickly quash any arguments about who would get to sit in the coveted orange bean bag chair, and the family would settle in around the one television we owned. Soon we’d be following the Old West adventures of Miss Kitty and Marshall Dillon, or riding shotgun on the fire truck with Paramedics John Gage and Roy DeSoto. Laughter was uncontrollable as we watched Carol Burnett descend a regal staircase wearing a drapery dress, rod and all! The comedy sketches on the variety shows were very funny and the musical talents of the guests were unsurpassed.

This video (like many others which can be found on YouTube) is a gem, and features Julie Andrews and Andy Williams. Watching it reminds me of those Saturday evenings, when chores were all done, the family was relaxed, we had great food to eat, and maybe, just maybe, it was my turn to sit in the bean bag chair!

If you are viewing this post on a mobile device, here is the YouTube link:


On the journey toward Home,

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori March 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I love this video! There is another one on YouTube with Andy Williams singing May Each Day. Do you remember that he used to close his show with that song? Some of our best times of “Family Night” are now spent watching re-runs of the Andy Griffith Show, Touched By An Angel, Little House on the Prairie or the Waltons. I think there are a lot of people who miss the shows that reflect traditional family values. I know I do. Thanks for sharing this!
Lori recently posted..Rebekah and Brenden


Lynn March 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I do remember that song! It is lovely. Here is the link on YouTube.


Melissa June 26, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Yep we watched many of the programs you mentioned growing up as well here in Australia. I am a little younger than you but we saw the repeats of these older generation TV programs.

We have bought plenty of DVDs of movies from that era. Quo Vadis, the Ten Commandments, The Crimson Pirate, The Court Jester and we also have a few TV series like Get Smart (got that as a Christmas present year before last). We also have Lost in Space the first few seasons.

When we were growing up no Video machines back then and we had to do our chores in order to be given the time to watch our favourtie TV programs in the afternoons. Re-runs of Gilligans island were on at 4pm and we had to diligently get our chores done between 3-15pm and 4pm if we wanted to sit down and enjoy our one TV program then it was homework until dinner, washing up the dishes and a bit more homework and bed. Saturday nights after dinner we sat down as a family to Andy Williams or a movie, Sunday night was Disney films and Documentaries.

Praise God for new technology which allows us to re-visit these older TV series and movies. We rarely watch live TV, only for Tennis and some gardening programs or Antiques shows & some cooking programs. Not much on TV these days I care to watch and if the program you still have the vile commercials of today. There is one which I can’t even bring myself to describe that really infuriates me shown when children are probably viewing TV with their parents. I don’t put the TV on when I have children in the house I have some good cartoons from my childhood and other children’s programs I can play for them on our DVD without worrying about the commercials.


Lynn June 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Thanks Melissa, for sharing your childhood memories! Here is another post I wrote about retro tv that you might find entertaining!


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