Friday, January 27, 2012

UP YOUR NOSE WITH A RUBBER HOSE:  Piggybacking for a second straight day off something in the prior day's comments, I wanted to focus on something Eric J said in our discussion of the death of Welcome Back Kotter's Robert Hegyes:
Possibly the biggest gap between how much I loved it as a kid, and how unwatchable I'd find it now of any show.
A few years ago, I watched a few WBK reruns on Nick at Nite and found myself appreciating Gabe Kaplan more and the Sweathogs a little less. Bigger gaps for me are certainly for some of the animated stuff I devoured as a kid -- Super Friends and Scooby-Doo in particular, and among live-action stuff, I do not think Laverne & Shirley has aged well. It just seems so loud and clunky, and I don't quite get the appeal anymore.


  1. kd bart8:29 AM

    A lot of the ABC sitcoms of the mid to late 70s, (Three's Company, Mork and Mindy, Laverne and Shirley), have not aged well.

  2. Duvall8:39 AM

    Judging the Nielsen standings, there still seems to be a sizable market for loud and clunky comedies. The 70s may not have aged all that much.

  3. Lou W8:45 AM

    Something that has surprised me with my kids is that even given the quality of modern animated shows (Avatar, the Batman/Justice League series, Phineas and Ferb, etc) they still love the classics. My middle son has watched every episode of Scooby Doo at least 3 times.  My youngest daughter loves the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon from 1983, and all three kids LOVE Challenge of the Superfriends (the Legion of Doom season).  My oldest is age 9, and he seems to just now be starting to hold the quality of the older animiation and voicing against the shows.  So although a bit of a dissapointment for me, I've certainly got no regrets about my classic cartoon library.

  4. I'm wondering how our perception has to do with our present lack of patience, rather than just the technology changes.  The older shows seem slow and drawn out, with less language.  

  5. At some point in the mid-90s, we gathered round to watch a newly released VHS of old Gumby cartoons. None of us remembered Gumby being such an unapologetic asshole. That was painful.

    Of more recent vintage, loved The Breakfast Club when it came out and now find it unwatchable.

  6. Watchman8:59 AM

    This is true for the dramas as well.  I LOVED Mission Impossible as a kid--it was probably my favorite show.  My kids got me the DVDs of the first season for Christmas a couple of years ago, and we barely made it through the first disc.  It may have been dramatic at the time (I was young, so maybe it wasn't even then) but it just drags and drags today. 

  7. Jordan9:30 AM

    At the time, we'd make fun of one of our roommates for being a grown man and watching something on Nickelodeon.  Then we got hooked.  Then we came to the realization that not only was Avatar written a lot better than any of the cartoons when we were kids (and thanks to youtube, we know that's true), but it was written a lot better than most other things on tv.

  8. Steph9:31 AM

    My to-die-for shows as a child were the Dukes of Hazzard and the A-Team. (Very sopphisticated taste as a young kid you see.)

    Upon watching as an adult: A-Team - still awesome. Dukes - unwatchable.

  9. Chuck9:47 AM

    I caught an episode of Laverne & Shirley the other night.  I thought it was fantastic.  The physical comedy they were doing was amazing, and that stuff is timeless.  (It was the one where they wind up in fat camp -- Fat City Holiday.)  It was pretty much a perfect L&S episode, with Lenny and Squiggy perfectly gross and the two leads silly, adorable, and triumphant at the same time.  (Aside:  Never before in my life did I notice that Laverne & Shirley and Lenny & Squiggy are both L&S.)

    Second half of the episode has some good stuff:

  10. Squid9:53 AM

    How does Knight Rider stack up?

  11. Marsha9:55 AM

    Precisely. Watching Family Ties today feels like a real throwback. Not that the show isn't well done and pleasant for what it is, but it's so formulaic and predictable, and the pace is so slow, that it seems ancient compared to today's shows. (Not to mention how chaste the whole thing is.)

    Those who have not yet read "Everything Bad is Good For You" should do so, especially for the brilliant chapter that graphs out the plot lines of TV dramas from the 1950s to the 2000s. It's an extremely clear (and fascinating) demonstration of the way the construction and complexity of TV shows have changed.

  12. Marsha9:58 AM

    Some stuff from my childhood is still totally watchable. Cheers is still fantastic. Schoolhouse Rock is still fantastic. And Bugs Bunny never goes out of style.

    But I watched The Smurfs religiously for a long time, and I cannot imagine why.

  13. Whenever my parents are staying with me, I rely on MeTV (or ESPN in basketball season) to survive. They're not fans of new-fangled multi-camera comedies, and I don't have the patience to explain to them what's going on in whatever serialized drama I'm into at the moment. So thank God for Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke, MASH, Bob Newhart and Cheers. For the most part, they hold up pretty well. When all else fails, I switch over to Lifetime(!) to watch their Frasier block.

  14. It's absolutely true for the best TV dramas of the present era how multi-layered they are, but looking purely at Neilsen ratings, the traditional model is still quite popular--there were five dramas in the Top 10 ratings last year--NCIS, NCIS: LA, Criminal Minds, the Mentalist, and CSI.  Four of those five (CSI being the exception) are almost invariably single storyline per hour, with something personal for a character bookending the episode, though sometimes they'll interweave a personal storyline in with the procedural stuff (family member in danger is one of the common ones).  They're VERY old school.

  15. Meghan10:28 AM

    Not from childhood, but I can't watch Friends anymore.  I saw every episode as appointment TV until the last season.  Now, I just can't watch it at all.

    Along similar but different lines, the last time I read The World According to Garp, I promised myself I wouldn't read it again because I loved that book but found myself having some real problems with it.  Now, I just remember that I loved it and will not go back to the well to find it tainted.

  16. littleredyarn10:28 AM

    I just discovered that we get a channel called "Antenna TV". The line-up is here, but this afternoon's shows include "Adam-12", "McHale's Navy" and "Father Knows Best". 

    Some of these may hold up pretty well ("All In The Family") and other won't ("The Flying Nun"), but this is the "sick day" television of my childhood. All that's missing is "The Mike Douglas Show".

  17. Fred App10:36 AM

    I think part of the problem is that anything that actually was new and original back in, say, the '70s is now cliched or bordering on it. I think in particular about "The Rockford Files." I love it when it aired, because it was so different than "Mannix" or "Cannon" or "Barnaby Jones." Now, though, every cop show has that same attitude, and so rather than seeming like a groundbreaker, "Rockford" seems like a poor execution of well-known genre.

    "Hill Street Blues" would be another example.

  18. Marsha12:10 PM

    You just listed a bunch of shows I don't watch, which I guess means I have a type.

  19. Marsha12:13 PM

    I get so excited when the game shows of my childhood sick days air on some retro network. The Joker's Wild, Card Sharks, Match Game, Press Your Luck... I loved game shows (still do) and I gett he sniffles just thinking about some of the old ones.

  20. Game Show Network is awesome -- I've gotten Lucy hooked on Pyramid. Card Sharks, however ... too many of the survey questions are not appropriate for kids.

  21. I caught a "Full House" the other day, and yikes, 8-year-old Chris does not remember it like that. I'd be interested to check out some other TGIF favorites ("Sabrina", "Family Matters"). "Golden Girls," however, is still absolutely awesome, as I'm reminded any time my sister and I are both back home and we end up watching three or four episodes in a row.

    I was blessed to have two of the greatest cartoons of all-time on after school ("Batman: The Animated Series" and "Animaniacs") and they are still fantastic, but I recently sampled a couple other childhood favorites on Netflix ("X-Men" and "Spiderman") and the animation is much rougher than I remember. 

  22. Aimee2:00 PM

    Schoolhouse Rock is and will always be awesome.

  23. lisased2:11 PM

    I watched Sixteen Candles last year and thought, "But the parents are really stressed out and tired!"

  24. bella wilfer3:18 PM

    I clicked on this thread exactly to cite Full House.  Wow, that show was way better in my elementary school imagination.  Saved By the Bell has a bit of that, too, but at least there's a kitsch factor there.

  25. bella wilfer3:19 PM

    LOVE Game Show Network.  I sometimes overexaggerated my symptoms of illness so I could stay home and watch Press Your Luck...

  26. I was going to post about The Smurfs.  I watched that religiously as a kid.  I hadn't watched an episode in nearly 20 years when I discovered it is terrible!  I really have no idea what fascinated me.... 

  27. Dan Pohlig3:26 PM

    MacGyver. When I see an old episode my first reaction is how poorly it aged but after just a few minutes (almost exactly in the crescendo of the theme song), I'm hooked again.

    Also loved Hawaii 5-0 (original blend) but didn't watch as a kid. Watched it on Channel 48 at 10am and 11am following Rockford Files at 9am as a barely-employed 20-something. That was late 90s. Didn't think either had aged badly at all. In fact, the only thing about Rockford files that has aged is James Garner.

    Finally... speaking of aging. Local tv news. Just about unwatchable now even though I remember watching and kind of liking almost every night as a kid.

  28. sconstant3:28 PM

    I was so into the Monkees during their 1980s resurgence.  Then I recently recorded a few episodes, and they're unwatchable to me (except some bits of Monkee vs. Machine, which are visionary).  I'd imagine this is a combination of my maturation and the show's staleness, though it's odd that to some extent I believe they held up for 20 years but got stale during the next 20.

  29. I feel the same way about "Say Anything".  In 1989 I thought Lloyd Dobbler was the ideal man.  Now I think he is a doormat.

  30. Watts3:37 PM

    I curse this thread for putting "Boys of Summer" in my head.

  31. Just because I have to name drop every time someone mentions Animaniacs, I am friends with the guy who voiced "Skippy Squirrel" as a kid.  Now, his father was the creator of the show but cool is that!

  32. You take the good you take the bad you take 'em both...

    And you have the Facts of Life which I ADORED as a girl coming of age in the 80s but now find completely unwatchable.

  33. Nancy6:30 PM

    I'd still watch "Barney Miller" ad infinitum... ditto the Dick Van Dyke show, Mary Tyler Moore and the Carol Burnett Show. I could not stomach a recent inadvertent foray into "Three's Company." Ugh.

    In other news... I find that I detest Meg Ryan more and more every time I watch her 80s-90s ouevre... "Harry/Sally," "You've Got Mail," "Sleepless in Seattle." Especially "Sleepless." God, I want to smack her. But back in the day I was fully on the Meg train. I am OK with the rest of the cast in all those movies but for some reason she now drives me nuts.

  34. I'll give her a pass for Joe versus the Volcano, her best work.

  35. J. Bowman7:11 PM

    <span>Apropos of absolutely nothing: Foxwoods Casino has (had?) a game called Catch-a-Wave that is based on the principle of the Card Sharks game (higher, lower, freeze). A week of trying to figure out the basic strategy led to the decision to pursue a graduate degree in math instead of a BA in culinary arts.  </span>
    <span>Pretty much everything that has happened in my life since has happened because a couple of my friends played this game at a bachelor party ten years ago.  </span>
    <span> </span>
    <span>Anyway, um, TV shows. Yeah. I'll think of something later?</span>

  36. Hannah Lee7:55 PM

    Completely agree with Nancy on Barney Miller, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Tyler Moore and The Carol Burnett Show.

    Starsky and Hutch (the TV show, not the movie)...I remember staying up extra late on school nights (Wednesdays, I think) to watch it...thought the leads were adorable. But I caught a few episodes recently and was appauled at how bad they were.  The plots were slow and made no sense, the cop misbehavior was horrible, the stereotyped snitches, wayward teens, corrupt cops, etc were cartoonish, and the two leads mugged through every scene.

    Also, I grew up loving reruns of The Monkees and HR Puf-n-stuf (must have been a sucker for short British guys with bowl cuts.) How did my childhood self not pick up on the fact that all the adults who created those shows were high as kites?  I mean, they had to be, right?   No one not under heavy influence of drugs would think that stuff was watchable, right?

  37. Marsha9:37 PM

    It is insanely cool, Kate! I lurve Animaniacs - have a piece of original artwork from it on my wall, even. So cool!

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