Childhood Television   14 comments

Today’s blog hope asks what television shows from our childhoods would we bring back and why?

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Wow! I had to google television shows from the 1960s and 70s to even remember what shows there were and I will admit — I didn’t find a lot I’d want to bring back and the ones that I would like have already been brought back with mixed results.

My childhood television viewing window was 1965 through 1979, and it was a sea of episodic banality. Most shows simply sought to fill in a half-hour or hour with something that people wouldn’t turn off and so, they didn’t try all that hard. I watched them and some of them I loved at the time, but I watch them now and wonder at the very poor writing choices.

I will give nods to some shows I think you should find on Netflix and watch – The Waltons showed a good family dynamic and my mother (who grew up in that era) said it was a fairly accurate presentation except you didn’t see the kids working that hard. Mom and her siblings worked very hard.

The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry RFD were good for showing police as they ought to be — peace officers instead of law enforcement officers. I don’t see that being reality anymore, but I think it should be. If cops were more like that, there’d be less crime and fewer people wanting to shoot cops. I liked All in the Family and MASH. Actually I’ve watched MASH several times as an adult and it was a great show. All In the Family doesn’t play well in this era, in my opinion.

I liked the family movie nights. From Disney when I was a little kid to the CBS Movie when I was a teenager, it was a good opportunity to hang out with my parents. I wouldn’t want to see the same shows, but the concept of a family movie night is a good one.

Image result for image of mashI can’t really think of a single show I would bring back from my childhood. A few have been brought back and, frankly, ruined. Television remakes in general have an abysmal track record. The Bionic Woman, Knight Rider, Get Smart, Love Boat, Dragnet, Charlie’s Angels, Wonder Woman, Dallas (that was when I was in college, actually) have all been redone and stank like last week’s fish left out on the counter. Now that we have the ability to go back and watch the original shows, I can see why. They weren’t very well-written to begin with. They didn’t think they needed to be. People would get to see it once … maybe twice … and then it would be forgotten. There was no need to write anything with the thought that people would come back and want to redo it. So there wasn’t much to work with and writers don’t want to bypass what was great about the original shows and thereby bypass a built-in audience, so they end up writing something not worth watching by a modern audience who has grown accustomed to well-written dramas and actually funny comedies.

Shows that have been brought back successfully have mostly done so by re-imagining the classic series. Battlestar Galactica was quite different from the 1978 show as is Hawaii Five-O. Twilight Zone followed a similar concept with new content. Star Trek (I know it’s a movie, not a television show) keeps some of the elements that made the show great writ large for the big screen and updated for a modern audience. Mostly, it’s saved by the current casts ability to make you see the former cast in them without being slavish to the original.

What I would like to see brought back is not so much individual shows as the concept of families watching television together because the shows were not written for a particular age group, but for the entire family. That would mean easing back on the sex talk and controversial subjects and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Hollywood is not through with remaking American society in its own image and American society no longer has any gatekeepers for what is appropriate, so I suggest we just leave those old shows available on Netflix et al so that people who want to see them in the original version can find them and binge watch. Maybe some of the older-era dynamics and worldview will wear off, but you know what they say about bringing horses to water.
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Posted December 12, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in culture

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14 responses to “Childhood Television

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  1. Ah, The Waltons! I loved that programme! As a young teenager I used to think it was true, and longed for all those brothers and sisters!

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    • Part of the magic of The Waltons was that is was loosely based on a real family. Perhaps that’s why it was so believable.

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      • They were just so…nice…weren’t they?

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      • They were. Not realistic. Although the pilot movie with Patricia Neal did try to touch on how truly desperate things became for the mountain folk during the Depression, the series was pretty feel-good. My mom grew up on a farm in the Midwest. They didn’t go hungry until the Roosevelt administration came to cull the dairy herds to boost the price of milk. Without milk to sell, my grandparents couldn’t afford coal (there being no wood out on the Plains). They burned cow chips (yes, animal dung) for heat and Mom and her younger sister got rickets.

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      • With this insight then the series definitely was not realistic!

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      • I’m sure it was. Like I said, my mom said it was pretty true to life, although it didn’t show all the government interference that was making things worse and the kids didn’t seem to work very hard. That was probably a function of trying to keep the show relevant to a 1970s audience.

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    • It was sort of true. The series was based on an earlier book by Earl Hamner, who based it on his family’s experiences during the Depression. He consulted on the series and some of the plot was from his childhood experiences. But it was definitely glossed for the tastes of a 1970s audience. That sense of urgency that my grandparents felt is often missing from the show. I’ve been told the original movie Spencer’s Mountain (which is what the book was called) is a bit more true to life. It’s on you-tube, so I’m going to try to watch it sometime this winter.

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  2. You raise a good point..I think many of the shows were a success during that period because they could be watched and enjoyed by the entire family. Family interests are very different these days.

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    • Are our interests different or do our choices influence our differences?

      The fact that our kids have watched Supernatural with us through its entire run indicates families might be more interested in watching TV together if there were more TV shows that could be watched together. Because they don’t have that option, they segregate into separate rooms to watch “age-appropriate” programming.

      Hollywood would say nobody wants whole-family entertainment. The discussion on this blog hop suggests people do. But how you convince Hollywood to give it a try to see if we’re right is a mystery to me.

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  3. I have to agree that there aren’t any shows I’d want to bring back these days. The Waltons was a good show and I did watch it often, but a bit too sweet and sugary for my tastes. I think my tastes have changed maybe a bit more to the dark side. Life does that to us I’m afraid.

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