My childhood in a box
Every day you hear more and more about how bad TV is for kids, and for the most part I have to agree. Modern TV is really not suitable for little ones. You have crime dramas all over the place, bratty rich teen shows, cartoons like Family Guy and Southpark which are totally not suitable with their sometimes mean spirited sarcasm. Maybe once in a while there's something kid friendly like a Charlie Brown special, but they're few and far between.
When I was a kid the TV always had something we could watch, even if it was just old reruns. I remember racing home from school to watch Gilligan's Island on channel 41--they showed tons of old sitcoms. I'll name the summer list starting from after I'd woken up and had a bowl of Corn Flakes: Laverne and Shirley, Happy Days, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Good Times, The Jefferson's, Leave it to Beaver, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I love Lucy, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle, Bewitched, I Dream of Genie, My Three Sons, Gilligan's Island . . . and then the station would move on to afternoon cartoons.
You know how they have those questionnaires that ask how much TV you watch each day? Ummmmmmmmmm. Let's see. How many hours was I awake each day? Cause that's how much TV I watched. I mean, it was constant. I freakin' loved my old reruns and cartoons. Woody Woodpecker, Pink Panther, Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, Johnny Quest. I always thought Johnny looked more like his bodyguard, "Race Bannon." Woops. Mommy's been sneaking around. Where was Johnny's mother anyway? They never talked about her. Weird . . .
Now we move on to the evening line-up. This will show my age, but oh well. Happy Days, Mork and Mindy, The Muppet Show, Buck Rodgers, The Million Dolllar Man, Bionic Woman, Wonderwoman, Facts of Life, Love Boat, Fantasy Island. I'm sorry, but that little guy on Fantasy Island scared the holy living crud out of me. And it always made me mad how they'd welcome these folks onto the island, tell them they could have any wish they wanted, then say, "Are you sure you want that wish?" The island guest would eventually say--after finding themselves in a pit of scorpians, "I want my old life back!!!!!" Rude. Ricardo Mantalban. What a smooth talking freak. Okay, what about Charlie's Angels? I still can't figure out if it was girl power, or just a show about women who didn't wear bras. And where was Charlie? Too scared to stand next to Farrah, dude?
The Solid Gold Dancers. Oh wow. Remember there was that one chick with really long hair who slithered all over the floor in her gold spandex? All while Rick Springfield sang behind her on a little stage lit up with glitter fringe. They had every known music act on that show and we watched it religiously. I still remember when Boy George was on there. I couldn't figure out if he was a boy or a girl. He'd turn left and he looked like a guy, then he'd turn right and he was prettier than Madonna. That was a confusing four minutes. Finally, like many things in life I just gave up and said, "Who cares?"
I can't go on. Clearly I have seen too much television and know way too much about this subject. It's pretty pathetic, but, I was a latch key kid after all, and sometimes TV was all I had. While other kids were walking into their Scruff the Dog protected houses with sticker in the window, I was opening the door at 516 N Franklin with my little brass key duplicated at the Kmart hardware department counter. There were no hugs, or peanut butter cookies coming out of the oven. Life was hard, kids had been cruel to me all day in school, and TV became my friend. But it could have been worse. There's always something worse.