Sunday, November 13, 2011

TV and Me

I grew up with television, for when I was young, so was TV.

I remember Saturday mornings in our old salt box house in Plantsville, Connecticut. I remember Annie Oakley bravely crawling through a window in her weekly search for adventure. I remember Sky King and Lassie.. I remember the night my parents had friends over for dinner and martinis. The adults talked of loving Adlai and not liking Ike. We kids, in the next room, pretended we were on the Sid Caesar show-

"First you walk a little more, and then you do that step!" we sang.

Newton Minnow may have believed that television was a "vast wasteland", but I and my friends never did. We never stopped watching. 77 Sunset Strip. Maverick. Cheyenne. Sea Hunt.

The night of February 9th, 1964, my brother and I walked two miles along a wooded and snowy country road to visit our neighbors, the Dunns. The Dunns were old, but their TV was new, and it could pick up the local CBS station. The Ed Sullivan Show was on that night. He introduced the Beatles. After that came the deluge- Petula Clark, the Rolling Stones. The British Invasion.

Only a few months before we had been attached to our own television for the aftermath of November 22, 1963. We sat day by day until the funeral was over.

When I went to nursing school in 1969 ,I and my classmates sat in our "smoker" every Wednesday, and watched Dr. Joe Gannon on "Medical Center". We preferred it to the stodgy, old-fashioned "Marcus Welby, M.D.". We were a more irreverent generation than the one that preceded us.

In June 1972, just after I graduated ,and around the time I took state boards, burglars broke into the DNC offices at the Watergate Hotel in Washington. The next year , when I was not at work, I was watching the Senate Select Committee and Sam Ervin trying to answer the question "What did the President know, and when did he know it?".

On nights I wanted to blot out the news, I watched "Mary Tyler Moore" and "The Bob Newhart Show". I watch them still, thanks to HULU. How our current comedies, with their disrespectful, smart-mouthed children and adults-who-never-grow-up, pale beside them.

Perhaps there are people who "measure out their lives in coffee spoons", but I am not among them. I measure out my life in decades and what was on TV. My late 20s- the spirited girls of "Charlie's Angels" and "The Bionic Woman". My 30s- "Dallas", and "Dynasty", and "Knott's Landing". All those glamorous women. All that Big Hair.

Yet now, at 61, I admit that while I have never missed one CSI, I have never watched a single episode of "Friends", or "Gray's Anatomy", or "Seinfeld", or anything with Charlie Sheen in it. I see no point in watching any of the "Law and Orders". They are all the same episode, over and over. I understand now why many of my older patients no longer want the TV on in their room.
They do not need to watch TV. They have already seen it. There is no such thing as a new plot, and they have seen them all. I know how they feel. The other night a show I usually watch was going to feature a serial killer. I changed the channel. No more serial killers. Not for me. No more Halloween episodes or Christmas episodes. No coaches being killed in the locker room. No boxing episodes. No more pedophile teachers or parents. No wonder the TV in our nurses' lounge is always tuned to a show about people who bid on abandoned storage lockers. Other people are just as tired of the same old thing as I am.

Ever hopeful, I watch some of each season's new shows to see if anything is worthwhile. This year, I am watching "Revenge", which is "The Count of Monte Christo" meets "Dynasty". Not new perhaps, but fresh. And "Pan-Am", which is so good that it will certainly be cancelled.

But the night I turn on "Revenge" and find that one of its characters is a serial killer, I will fire up HULU and watch another episode of "Newhart" instead.


Nan said...

This was so much fun to read, Betsy. I'm a couple years older than you and remember many of the same shows. My big favorites were I Love Lucy and American Bandstand, and earlier The Mickey Mouse Club. My tv viewing in the seventies and eighties was mostly PBS shows and All in the Family, MTM, MASH, Bob Newhart - the first one. Great stuff. But I am still a big tv fan. I set my dvr for quite a few shows. Still PBS' Masterpiece shows. And Rizzoli&Isles; Castle; Hawaii Five-O; The Middle; NCIS and NCIS LA; and a few more. I know. I admit it. I still love tv. :<)

betsy said...

Nan- We like the same shows. And there were so many I left out- "The Rockford Files", "Magnum PI", "Miami Vice"

And the best thing ever on the TV screen- "Lonesome Dove".

Nan said...

Never saw LD. Recently I watched several seasons of The Rockford Files on dvd. I'd not seen it before. Only watched a little MPI or MV. I think I was in the throes of little kids then. I watched a lot of Mr Rogers and Sesame Street. :<)