Wednesday, January 16


Have you ever missed somebody you never even knew? I ask because I've been watching a wonderful series on PBS called The Pioneers of Television and it's making me miss a lot of old "friends".

The first episode was on the evolution of sitcoms. The next week focused on late night television. Tonight's episode went through the history of variety shows. I realize this may sound a bit dry but I'm telling you it's such fun. Much of the subject matter is of television before my time, but still, it's fascinating. I've enjoyed all of the episodes but the one that really got to me was that on late night. It made me realize how much I actually miss Johnny Carson. I suppose it hit me the hardest because Carson was a part of my life longer than just about every other entertainer out there. Of course, when I was young, I didn't regularly catch his show but I watched from my junior high years until the day Carson retired. I can honestly say that I miss that man.

There are others I miss too. I miss seeing Carol Burnett once a week. I miss Flip Wilson's Geraldine. Flip's show was probably the first I remember laughing at. Laugh In was fast paced, and bright, and kept my attention when I was very small. I remember my parent's cracking up at it but I don't know that I understood much of what was going on. Flip, on the other hand, slayed me. I miss him too.

It seems foolish to have these feelings but, when you're a child of the sixties and seventies, there's no denying the influence of television on all of us. It was a different time. Not to sound like and old-timer but we only had a few channels to choose from. When you got to school every day all of the kids had watched the same shows. It's just plain different today.
There is a surprising amount of history and ground breaking stuff going on here. There is so much I just plain never knew because it was either before my time or I was too young. I never knew Jack Parr quit on the air over being censored. I never knew nobody would sponsor The Nat King Cole Show, because of race, and NBC paid for it themselves until a sponsor stepped forward. When no sponsor stepped up, it was cancelled. I didn't know Arthur Godfrey's decline came immediately after he fired a popular singer from his show... on air.

The tone can be downright reverent at times but I don't mind. It's such good television. I think there were only three episodes made but try to catch the reruns if you can. If you're anywhere near my age, or older, I think you'll enjoy them.

1 comment:

kb said...

I watched Flip Wilson and I absolutely LOVED Geraldine. I miss 70's TV and totally agree with you about what we watched as kids. We all watched the same things...including those after school specials :) Given a choice, I will usually pick an I Love Lucy or Mary Tyler Moore rerun over a brand new and "in" show that's on at the same time.