April 22, 2013
When I was in elementary school, the first thing that I would do when I came home was grab a snack and watch The Brady Bunch. It didn’t matter how many times had seen Marcia’s nose get broken or Peter break the vase (Mom always said, "Don’t play ball in the house"), I could never get enough of my favorite family. It was only thanks to reruns that I got the chance to get acquainted with the Brady’s. Unbeknownst to me at the time, The Brady Bunch was actually canceled the very year that I was born. It didn’t matter though. I, like others that came after me, was able to relive this classic.
Today, there seems to be a boon in what I refer to as Nostalgia TV. Nick-at-nite and TV Land began the popular trend. Now, however, even those of us without cable can go back in time and watch their favorite shows from our past. Me TV, Antenna TV, This TV (a channel actually more dedicated to classic films, but which airs older TV shows occasionally as well), and the new Cozi TV are now there to help transport us back to the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. And for those of us who have difficulty finding much enjoyable on network television nowadays, this is fantastic.
In looking at what makes these shows different from today’s fare, I see the greatest difference in the comedies. For example, in the 1970s, shows like All in the Family created comedy based around social issues. Family comedies were also plentiful in this decade, as well as the one that followed. You would be hard pressed to find much like them today. Unfortunately, the word in comedy nowadays is raunchy. While there are some shows that dial down the tartiness, even popular shows like The Big Bang Theory, a personal favorite of mine, seem to derive most of their comedy from awkward sexual situations. This is happening even at what used to be referred to as the "Family Hour." It can be hard for parents to find something on the networks that they don’t have to worry about their kids watching.
Then. there are the action adventure shows like the original Hawaii Five-O and Magnum P. I. Most shows around in this genre today are notoriously dark. Not that there weren’t occasionally dark things in the older dramas, but there just didn’t seem to be the bleakness that exists today. For example, there was time when deaths of important characters were few and far between and therefore had a lot of impact when they happened (the death of Henry on M.A.S.H. is one of the most shocking). Now, the tradition seems to be to kill someone every sweeps period. Not to mention that every main character on these shows seems to have a dark past, often surrounding the mysterious death of a loved one whom they are trying to avenge in some way.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of good television shows out there today. But for those of us without cable, accessing them is a bit more difficult. These new over-the-air channels allow people who are a little tired of the overly depressing dramas and sex infused comedies a little relief. So if you are looking for something to watch, there are now great alternatives for those who remember our childhoods fondly. So, for those of you who grew up in the 50s, catch up with I Love Lucy, Father Knows Best, and Donna Reed. Baby Boomers of the 60s have Gidget, That Girl, and The Monkees waiting for them. Not to mention Star Trek and Lost in Space. And Gen-Xer’s, like myself, have everything from The Six Million Dollar Man to that handsome Tom Selleck for us to enjoy. And we cannot forget the comedies like Good Times and Diff'rent Strokes.
Of course, you don’t have to wait for your favorite classic shows to appear on one of these new channels. For years, these fantastic series have been released on DVD, and more are appearing all the time. MCPL has many of these titles available in our DVD section. So if one of the shows that you remember fondly has yet to show up on any of these nostalgia channels, come check out our shelves and see what you can find. The great thing about today is that it so easy to look back at yesterday.