Sunday, March 11, 2012

TV Tales

When I was a kid, my parents weren't terribly concerned about things like 'cultural enrichment' and 'making memories'. But despite their best efforts at being the prototypical 70s/80s parents, they did introduce us to things that heightened our awareness, and created long lasting, treasured memories.

I was, for instance, the only kid ever to go to fifth grade with chicken liver paté in my lunchbox.

I am not the only child of that era who has many memories of family bonding over a TV dinner, eating by the warm glow of the television. Television was our main source of entertainment on a daily basis. A favorite program wasn't constantly available, it was an event. Unless, of course, your mom could remember or your dad could figure out how to set the VCR (or Beta, if you rocked that), and how often did that happen? Next to never.

So primetime was exactly that - primetime. With the exception of Dallas (which was TV crack for my parents), we watched television as a family.

Greatest American Hero
Real People
That's Incredible
Magnum, P.I.
Ripley's Believe It or Not!
The Love Boat
Fantasy Island
The A-Team


And many more.

And for one, glorious season - 22 magical episodes - Tales of the Gold Monkey. it was like Indiana Jones meets Casablanca meets Hogan's Heroes. it had everything you could want in a show - romance, intrigue, humor, a dashing main character, bad guys, a one-eyed dog, and Roddy MacDowall as a bartender named Bon Chance Louis. Bon Chance Louis! Quite possibly the best character name ever.

Jake Cutter was a pilot, flying in and out of Boragora, and fighting evil and bagging babes and tossing them back in the local watering hole. There were episodes involving nuns and natives and the Japanese and malaria. It seemed, at least to 10 year old me, to be extremely well written, very exciting, and worthy of accolades and awards. The rest of my family seemed to agree.

Unfortunately, the television executives did not, and Tales if the Gold Monkey was cancelled. It was crushing news.

Today, as I watched my kids flip through eleven billion channels to find exactly what they were looking for, and then go to On Demand or Netflix or DVR or Hulu or Roku when they didn't, I though about how TV isn't special anymore. It's just there, a big box, too full. It made me miss sitting around with my parents, getting crazy excited about a television show, and waiting all week for the next episode.

What shows did you watch as a child? Were they family events?

15 comments:

  1. Greatest American Hero!!!! I forgot that one!

    "Believe it or not, I'm walking on air, I never thought I could feel so free-eee--eeee, flying away, a wing and a prayer, oooh ohhhh, could it be....believe it or not it's just meeeeeee."

    Geez, I totally just pulled that theme song out of my ass.

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  2. Riptide. LOVED that friggen nerd on it. Dukes of Hazzard. Um... Bosom Buddies.
    In later years, Quantum Leap became one of my favorite shows of all time.

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    1. Loved BB, ashamed of loving Dukes, especially Boss Hog. :(

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  3. My kids were able to go online and watch the 2nd part of a 2 part episode of "Good Luck Charlie" a week before it was on TV. What's the point? Where's the suspense?

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    1. EXACTLY. My husband always uses the example of The Wizard of Oz. It came on once a year and was an EVENT!

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  4. The Wonderful World of Disney, 6pm Sunday. Which I rarely got to watch because I had to go to church. *pout* And then be regaled with highlights by my non-church going friends on the bus Monday morning. I never faked an illness to get out of school, but I occasionally did to get out of Sunday night church so I could sit mesmerized in front of the TV...:)

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    1. I totally think God would understand.

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  5. Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom

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    1. I wish this were still on, I think my kids would love it.

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  6. Magnum PI, Simon & Simon (!), The A-Team, Battlestar Gallactica, and whatever was on Mystery on PBS (a whole lot of Miss Marple and Sherlock Holmes). What fun! Some of my fondest memories from childhood are from TV night.

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    1. I was a HUGE Battlestar Gallactica fan. And that just reminded me of Buck Rogers, which was a super awesome show.

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  7. My dad makes the best liver pate, bar none. So good. My TV show memories were from the late 80s and early 90s. I'm still sad that they cancelled the Dark Shadows remake after only one season.

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  8. Loved Gold Monkey. Not as much as my sister did, though. She was a girl obsessed. I was just thinking the other day about BJ and The Bear, about the trucker with a chimpanzee? It might be a little before your time, but if so, don't tell me. I'm feeling old enough this week already.

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    1. LOVED BJ and the Bear. There are not nearly enough sitcoms with chimpanzees in them.

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