Wednesday, April 15, 2015
I will get to Liz. Read on.
At first I was very excited about nostalgia channels. How cool to be able to watch shows I loved as a kid again. But then I discovered some problems.
A lot of these shows don’t hold up. Kojak seemed really cutting edge at the time. But compared to shows like THE WIRE or THE SHIELD, he sounds as street and authentic as Inspector Gadget.
The old DANNY THOMAS SHOW used to make me laugh. Now, Danny Thomas’ character just comes off as a bombastic misogynistic asshole. How did grown-ups back in the day not see this at the time? I was a kid. I had an excuse.
A lot of the comedies don’t hold up, which makes you appreciate even more the ones that do – like THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW and THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW. But in fairness, even as a kid, a lot of the sitcoms of the day didn’t wow me. I never thought GILLIGAN’S ISLAND was remotely amusing. Nor did I laugh once at I DREAM OF JEANNIE. BEWITCHED was funny the first season but I continued to watch because I was in love with Elizabeth Montgomery (today would have been her 82nd birthday, by the way). Same with PETTICOAT JUNCTION. When you have three hot babes Sean Hannity could write the comedy. Milk has a longer expiration date than BATMAN jokes had. And neither character Patty Duke played in THE PATTY DUKE SHOW was funny (but Patty was less unfunny than Cathy). Still, I watched every week – and I think you can surmise why.
On the other hand, DOBIE GILLIS and CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU? still provide some genuine laughs. Shows that had a certain anarchy seemed to age better.
Once you get into the ‘70s things improve considerably. BARNEY MILLER, the MTM shows, ALL IN THE FAMILY, MASH. But the ‘70s create another problem. Shows of mine are on it. I’m way too young to have shows on the fucking nostalgia channel! It’s bad enough I have shows on TV LAND.
You wonder whether there will be nostalgia channels for today’s fare. You wonder whether there will be channels period. But with so many niche shows on so many platforms and all episodes being so readily available on streaming services or DVD I suspect there will be no equivalent in thirty years. And if there is, with whatever technical advances they will have then, since no one will watch commercials, they might just digitally include products into the body of shows. They’ll give Liz Lemon a walker. Raylan Givens will be wearing Depends when he takes his pants off for a sex scene. Oh, for the good old days when the shows were originally aired… with seventeen banners, network logos, animated promos, storm warnings on the screen...
And BEWITCHED still on four times a day. God bless nostalgia channels.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM