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,