Thursday, April 10, 2008

Those Good Old Days

“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” (Article of Faith #13)*

I was born in the early 70s, which means that I did most of my growing up in the 70s and 80s, or in what I like to call, "The Golden Age of Television".

I loved, and I do mean LOVED watching television when I was a child. I watched reruns of The Brady Bunch, I Dream of Jeannie, Eight is Enough and Bewitched (Although once The Andy Griffiths Show came on, I would stay through the whistling intro only. Once that was over, so was my attention span). I watched Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune until I thought it was completely normal to phrase all answers in the form of a question, and I longed for the opportunity to buy a vowel.

And then there was prime time. I don't have it locked in the old noggin' anymore, but I used to have the entire weekly prime time schedule memorized. I watched Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. I couldn't wait to find out what great feats Wonder Woman would accomplish each week. I watched The Donny and Marie Show, The Love Boat, and (if I was able to sneak my way into staying up late enough) even Fantasy Island.

Those gems were followed by Diff'rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, Silver Spoons and The Dukes of Hazard, which were followed by Who's the Boss, The Cosby Show, Family Ties, and Growing Pains. It was heaven, absolute heaven! Looking back on all the shows I watched, I'm a little curious as to how I managed to fit in all the other things that I did. I mean, I have memories of them all, so I know that I did them, but how? When? When did I take ballet lessons? When did I do homework? When did I slide tadpoles down the makeshift miniature waterparks that we made out of our beanbags in the basement? I have no idea. The thought baffles my mind even now.

And then I grew up. In 1993, I went on an LDS mission and watched NO TV for over a year and a half. Now, I'm not sure if my sensitivities were uncharacteristically sharpened in that time period, or if network television took a screaming nosedive from June 1993 to December 1994, or (as is probably the case) if it was a little bit of both, but whatever the reason, once I returned home from my mission the allure of television just wasn't there for me.

This was the era of Seinfeld and Friends, among other shows, and while what was being broadcast was often witty and funny to the point of hilarious, when I watched, I often felt bombarded with innuendo and double entendres as I never had before**. Finding something that was "virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy" on television became something of a difficulty for me, and my love affair with the old TV gradually came to an end. I watched less and less, until finally I came to the point where I didn't even have a television and wasn't following a single show.

And that's kind of where I am today. I check in with American Idol from time to time, and every once in a while I'll catch an episode of The Amazing Race or Dancing with the Stars (although many of those costumes are a little revealing for my taste, you know?) but for the most part, I'm pretty ignorant about what's going on over the airwaves these days. Mostly, I think this is a good thing. I read more now, and I have time to accomplish far far more than I did in my old television-obsessed days. But some days, like when I don't feel well, or I just want to veg for a bit, I really miss being able to plop down on the couch and see what my old friends Rudy, Vanessa, and Theo are up to, you know?


(Lest you think me more pious than I actually am, I have to admit that I crack up every time I chance to see Cosmo Kramer enter Jerry's apartment. Hilarious!!!)

*The Articles of Faith outline 13 basic points of belief of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith first wrote them in a letter to John Wentworth, a newspaper editor, in response to Mr. Wentworth's request to know what members of the Church believed. They were subsequently published in Church periodicals. They are now regarded as scripture and included in the Pearl of Great Price. (from )

**As I watch old episodes of some of my old favorites now, I have to admit that much of what went on the air in the 70s and 80s was far from squeaky clean. I was younger and more naive back then, and much of that element flew right over my head.


Jake said...

I have often had the same misgivings, but like you noted in your second footnote the old shows aren't as clean as I once thought. I love watching MASH reruns, but there are a lot of jokes that I didn't get while I was young. The old Jame Bond shows don't show as much in the way of skin and the like, but I think the dialogue in the old shows is actually worse than the Pierce films.

We watched Tank earlier this week and that show, while hilarious, is not something I want Spencer quoting.

So I must agree with your post mostly. I don't think Friends and Seinfeld are that different from Cheers and MASH (though our mother would disagree), however, I don't see any clean shows like Family Ties, The Cosby Show, or even The Fresh Prince of Belair anymore.

Seriously Char, The Dukes?

Charlotte said...

Hey man, don't be knocking my Dukes! Luke Duke was my first celebrity boyfriend.

Jake said...

Sure, but Daisey was a lot of guys' first celebrity girlfriends.

Charlotte said...

Good Point.

Jeri said...

I was in love with Bo myself....

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. (I have a whole lot more to say, but it vanished into space and Caleb is demanding that I stop NOW!, so ...later!

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