Being born and raised in the sixties means, among other things, that television was a staple in my entertainment world.
I’m talking about real television, though…not the 387 channels of crap that kids have today (ironically, several of which are dedicated to “old time TV”).
Anyway – television has always been one of my favorite leisure activities, in fact it still is. I enjoy good shows, and there are lots of them out there these days…thank God for TiVo!
However – there are many shows that I really miss.
I’ve put together a list of them, which I had intended to whittle down to my top ten – but I couldn’t do it. They’re all too good to cut, so I decided to list my twenty favorites, which I will list in four installments of five each.
So let’s get started…here are numbers 20 thru 16…
20 – The Waltons (1972-1981) – I hope I didn’t scare everybody away with this one, but you know what? The Waltons was a great show for several reasons…First – it was based on a real family. Second – they had to get through what is arguably the roughest era this country has ever seen. Third – the overall message was positive and morally strong. The acting in the show, from top to bottom, was outstanding (Ten Emmys), the writing was consistently strong and rarely “formulaic”, and the story lines were (according to my mother, who lived in the era) historically accurate. I’m not saying that watching the Waltons made me a good person – but it certainly didn’t make me a bad one.
19 – Gilligan’s Island (1964-1967) – Goofy, predictable and far from believable, Gilligan’s Island was just plain fun. The castaways spent three seasons trying to get rescued from their involuntary home-away-from-home to no avail. Their failures were typically due to a screw-up by, our hero, Gilligan-although there was one episode where escape was thwarted by everyone on the island except Gilligan. Gilligan’s Island was thirty minutes of pure escapism (no pun intended). You knew they weren’t getting off the island, you knew Gilligan was going to be the reason and you knew there was no way they could build all that stuff out of bamboo…but it was fun to watch. Maybe the best reason for watching was to be reminded that our own situation wasn’t really all that bad…
18 – Fantasy Island (1978-1984) – What’s your fantasy? What could be better than an island that would turn those fantasies into reality? (for $10,000 of course) I really loved Fantasy Island because it tried to get people to realize that getting what you want isn’t always the best thing. Sure it was made in the seventies and the wardrobe and hair styles are funny to look at now, but the theme is timeless. I think Ricardo Montalban was born to play the enigmatic Mr. Roarke and Hervé Villechaize, as Tattoo, was the perfect sidekick. The list of guest stars was a who’s who of Hollywood…Bob Denver (I guess he had a thing for islands), Ray Bolger (perhaps fantasizing about Dorothy?) and even Sonny Bono (sans Cher) graced the island and learned the hard way to be careful what you wish for…you just might get it.
17 – Colombo (1971-1978) – Of all the cop/detective shows that aired in the seventies (and there were a ton of them) Colombo was my favorite. He was scruffy, unorganized and very un-sleuth-like…but he was always several steps ahead of the bad guy. The trademark trench coat, soggy cigar, beat up Peugeot convertible and pet Basset hound made him seem like a very unlikely candidate for solving any mystery, but it was all a clever smoke-screen used to lull his adversaries into a false sense of security. Obviously all TV detectives solve the crime and nail the bad guy, Colombo’s beauty was that he knew who did it early on, they knew he knew, and he knew that they knew that he knew…that’s when the fun started. “Oh – and just one more thing…”
16 – Hill Street Blues (1981-1987) – Unlike any prior cop show, the officers in the Hill Street Precinct were all very “real” people. They were diverse in everything from appearance to morals. Some of them were likeable, some lovable and some downright detestable. My brother was a fan of the show and never missed an episode. One night he happened to be at my house at show time and half begged – half demanded I watch the show, lest he miss it. I protested, but finally gave in and watched the show with him. When the screen went dark and the credits began rolling I looked at my brother and said “That’s it? They can’t end it there, what happens?” I was hooked and my brother has never let me forget it.
Stay tuned – in the next installment I’ll list the next five shows on my list.
In the meantime, feel free to leave comments below about the list so far.