“Don’t sit so close to the TV, you’ll go blind.” – Mom: Nineteen-Seventy-Something. Really, every adult said this during the 70s. I actually kind of miss it.

“Only one hour of TV a week.” – Also Mom, also the 1970s. I eventually wore her down, and by ‘eventually’ I mean approximately 3 or 4 weeks. “But Ma, The Fonz is going to jump over a shark on water skis…”

As I sit and watch Three’s Company on TV Land I am reflecting upon what a huge part of my life TV has been, and how I still have many observations on the various TV cliches. I was just talking to Gow about the old Batman TV show with Adam West and how it used to frustrate me so much as a little boy. “How?” asked the Gow dutifully. “Well…” I began…

Even as a 6, 7 or 8 year old boy I saw major flaws in the Batman TV show. I know it was never meant to be that serious, but 6 year olds shouldn’t be questioning their logic and inconsistencies. We just aren’t wired for that level of scrutiny.

OK…My first issue was that there was a painfully obvious formula that plagued my childhood sensibilities. Episode One. The villain (Joker, Ridler, King Tut. Cat Woman, The Penguin or EggHead (Vincent Price) starts a crime wave. Batman and Robin track them down at one of the many abandoned warehouses that seemed to abound in Gotham City. B&R would engage the villain and their 4 goons and would lose the first fight. “THWACK”, “BOFF” and “SOCKO” Then the villain would put the dynamic duo (who just lost a fight to 4 flabby middle aged fellows…not so “dynamic” really) into a half assed death trap after informing them which bank they’d be robbing. The crooks would never take away B&R’s utility belts…. this drove me crazy. “They’re gonna get away!!!” I’d scream at the TV. These belts had everything one would need for escaping half assed death traps, and every gadget was prefaced with “Bat”. “If I can just reach the Bat-Handcuff Keys and the Bat Glass Cutter we can get free old chum.” Of course they were going to reach these things.

Then they’d get away, go back to the Bat Cave for a pow wow and later beat the snot out of the crooks in a rematch “SMASH” “BANG” “THUD”. Things aren’t supposed to be so predictable for a 6 year old. I puzzled over the obvious criminological errors that these people kept making. First of all…if 4 flabby, middle aged goons were beating up B&R 50% of the time…why didn’t the Penguin or whomever just splurge and pay for 2 or 3 more goons? There seemed to be no shortage of them in Gotham. This isn’t rocket science people. Why did the criminals feel the need to gloat and tell B&R every last detail of their criminal enterprise? I mean don’t crooks lie anymore? Wouldn’t it be much more satisfying for B&R to show up to The First National Bank of Gotham only to find a note saying “Hey Losers…we’re really at the second national bank. Hahahaha. Sucks to be you! Love, Riddler”

Speaking of “The Riddler”, what a lame-assed and low rent master criminal. Was there ever any riddle that B&R couldn’t figure out in all of 15 minutes? Hell, I was 6 years old and my cousin and I were figuring out these “riddles” “Oh, he’s planning to steal the Mona Lisa and draw a mustache on the painting unless the Bruce Wayne Wing of the Gotham art museum coughs up a million bucks….Duh” What was the point of this guy’s MO? I’m amazed that the Riddler’s goons didn’t turn on him and mug his green suited ass for being so lame. The Penguin was kind of stupid too, but at least he had those cool umbrellas and top hats that did things. Don’t even get me started on “Egghead”, Vincent Price must have needed the money.

Mike Myers pointed out some of these silly issues Austin Powers, so I was relieved that I wasn’t the only kid noticing this stuff. It abounded in all the James Bond films too.

“Before I go and rob Fort Knox Mr Bond, I’m going to give you…oh I don’t know … twenty or thirty minutes to die in this overly intricate death device. Yes, I know one of the 10 guys I have here holding guns on you and your bimbo du jour could just shoot you…but I have faith that this will work and that a highly trained naval officer and spy will just give up and die. I’m leaving you with your MI-6 designed tuxedo, because I’m fairly certain that the buttons don’t explode and the belt doesn’t extend into a 40 foot cable, and what kind of pussy would put a Swiss army knife in the heel of their shoe? So…like I said…twenty..thirty minutes, I’ll be at Fort Knox. Did you have any good one liners before I go? Oh, that is good…Later Gator.”

Getting back to Batman…Adam West was just too damn flabby to be a convincing crime fighter. Am I the only one that wondered if Batman and Robin had switched the poles they slid down into the BatCave would they haved come out dressed in each others costumes? Speaking of the costumes. Bright yellow panties and a green cape, Robin? Really?

Other issues that plagued me in regards to early TV…

How did Wonder Woman find the invisible jet? Were people able to see her sitting down and flying through the sky?

How come the Six Million Dollar Man didn’t have any facial damage from that crash?

OK…so, you throw a tied up Bruce Banner into the trunk of a car and drive it into a pond. 5 minutes later, the Hulk comes jumping out of the pond? Was this tough to figure out?

CHiPs – My step sister wrote love letters to Eric Estrada, who never had the decency to respond. I used to steal Tiger Beat centerfolds of Herr Estrada for her…then when I was angry with her, I’d sneak into her room and draw glasses and bras on the posters. She’d kick my ass afterward. Hey, she played field hockey..she was tough.

The Love Boat – There were never any inter-racial hook ups or couples on The Love Boat. This was also something I figured out quickly as an 8 year old. As the opening credits rolled and The Pointer Sisters or Roxie Roker were on…Isaac was going to get laid. And, that Vicky girl needed to be tossed over board.

Fantasy Island – Frankly all the “fantasies” sucked. A show with a name like that should do better than Paul William’s fantasy of being a jazz trumpet player in 1933.

So many questions and observations

As I got a little older, but as you will see not wiser; I became a fan of The Dukes of Hazzard. Now boys and girls…many decision makers in Hollywood during the 1980s had access to and indulged in large amounts of high quality cocaine. Cocaine is the enemy of creativity. At some point in the early 80s, someone came up with a TV show concept about 2 red neck cousins who lived with their uncle and female cousin and drove around in a souped up dodge charger named after a Confederate war hero. They didn’t have jobs, nor were they looking for them and they were chased around by inept country law enforcement employed by a fat, corrupt fellow named Boss Hogg who wore a white on white suit and cowboy hat. There was a meeting, too much cocaine and voila…a show is born! It’s also interesting to note that the actor who played Boss Hogg (Sorell Brook) in all likelihood got laid because of his TV fame. These are the thoughts that plague me when I lament being single.

The Dukes of Hazzard was on for several seasons and I have to admit that as a fan of the show this was the closest I ever came to being the kind of person who would vote for someone like Sarah Palin. Mind you, I was 11 years old. There are millions of Americans who haven’t outgrown The Dukes of Hazzard mentality. Parents hated this show, which only encouraged us youngsters. The only problem was that parents couldn’t articulate WHY they disliked the show.

Speaking of parental approval. Little House on The Prairie was a show that most parents approved of. I enjoyed this show and Michael Landon’s really awful fake laugh. I remember making fun of my mom who would tear up at the maudlin story lines. I’d look up at her while “Pa” Ingalls went to pray for a good crop after the locusts had eaten his blind daughter or something similar. She’d be on the verge of tears. I’d smirk and giggle she’d tell me I was horrible and storm out of the living room. OK. I was horrible.

My attitudes toward romance, sex and dating were probably partially formed to some degree by television. There was never any shortage of pop psychologists during the 70s and 80s who wrote of the dangers of sex and violence on TV. Maybe. It seems to me Toddlers and Tiara’s and My Super Sweet 16 are pretty emotionally numbing and destructive. At least I grew up with the sense of that. I also grew up with Three’s Company, Happy Days and The Love Boat.

Three’s Company abounded with double entendre and references to sex, yet no one ever seemed to get laid. At least the guys on Happy Day’s were trying. I’m not even sure the Fonz was successful in that department. On Happy Days, “making out” with a “chick” seemed to be the goal…which is really kind of sweet when you think about it.

  1. Megan says:

    Great post! Haha, though I am not acquainted personally with many of these shows, as I am a product of the 90’s, I love looking a little bit deeper into what we consume our lives watching. Sometimes it is nice to be able to sit down and watch something predictable. Even if the plot is the same, the similar formula allow us to focus more on the characters and how they are developing.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s