Monday, February 21, 2011


Television has played an important part in my life.  My own Grandmother left me her old Philco TV when she passed away.

When I was only two or three, Uncle Al, Captain Kangaroo, Pinky Lee, Howdy Doody and Skipper Ryle fascinated me.

So did Roy Rogers, The Cisco Kid, Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickcock, and Rin Tin Tin.  As I grew older other shows caught my attention such as Perry Mason, Death Valley Days, The Twilight Zone, all the 1960's Warner Brothers western shows, Sugar Foot, Cheyenne and Maverick. Though I didn't actually understand it, Have Gun, Will Travel was a favorite, as was Bonanza.

I'm leaving out the cartoons with Tom and Jerry, Mickey Mouse and all the Disney shows, Huckleberry Hound, Heckle and Jeckyl, Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Bugs Bunny the Flintstones, the Jetsons, Tom Terrific and Pixie and Dixie.  Sherri Lewis and Lamb Chop were great.  I grew up watching The Mickey Mouse Club with all it's great serials and music.

We even were able to pull in shows from Dayton, Ohio TV stations such as the Uncle Orie Show and Clutch Cargo. There were some locally produced shows from Cincinnati that fascinated me, such as Stringbean, Mr. Hop and every year during Christmas time someone from one of the local stations would dress up as Santa and a female staff member would be his elf.

Night time TV featured musical entertainment and variety shows with comedy, dancing and skits, with the likes of Sid Ceasar, Jack Benny, Jackie Gleason, Gary Moore, George Goebel and Carol Burnett.  Ed Sullivan brought us circus acts, opera singers, puppets and great pop music acts.

The Muppet Show was amazing. Perry Como, Andy Williams, Dinah Shore to name a few were very entertaining. This encouraged us to develop talent.

These were all well thought out entertainment with story lines, comedy writers, professional musicians and singers and professional voice talent.

So last night I took my mother out to eat.  We were too late to sit in the dining room of her favorite restaurant, so we sat in the bar which had multiple televisions featuring shows I have never seen.

First up was the Amazing Race, in which family and friends are pitted against other family and friends and made to chase each other around the world to see who gets to the correct spot first.  The plot and storyline were lacking. The actors couldn't act.

It would have been more entertaining to see Dick the Bruiser take on the Sheik in Big Time Wrestling.  At least that had some acting.

Next up was Undercover Boss.  This is where the chief executive officer of a company grows whiskers, dyes their hair and wears a fake mustache in order to interact with the lackies and schleps that work for him.

He becomes all dewy eyed at their hard work, dedication  and how hard their job really is.  He never realized this since he was on vacation or playing golf while his minions were slaving so he could take a vacation and play golf on company time.

At the end, he winds up promoting someone or sending another one some money to help their poor family.

At least this show has more of a story, although the reality is that this is the way business works and has since England created serfdoms.  I wonder if they will ever do an  Indonesian version of this in which the boss goes undercover and promotes a couple of twelve year old factory worker to shop foreman or gives them an hour off, or two potty breaks a day.

There are other excellent TV shows lately such as Iron Chef, Cake Wars, that stuck-on-an-island show which I never watch.  There is that gourmet restaurant show with that jack-ass that screams and embarrasses everyone. What art!

For the past several years we have been able to gather around the old idiot box and watch nightly autopsies on CSI, NCIS, Law and Order, Criminal Minds and others.

Perhaps one of these day, television will go back to good wholesome entertainment without reality shows or violence or violent reality shows.

Until then, I am reading books.


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