Thursday, January 13, 2005

Last of the black & white's

In case you haven't noticed, our generation is being almost completely ignored by the mass media, and by television in particular. Several years ago when channels like TVLand and Game Show Network went on the air, their schedules were filled with all of the classic TV shows that we grew up with in the 50s and 60s. Gradually these shows have been disappearing, until today there are only a handful of them left - by my count, the only programs still being shown from the black & white era are The Munsters, Leave It To Beaver and the early episodes of Andy Griffith on TVLand, and What's My Line on Game Show Network.
I had intended to write this blog several weeks ago, but hadn't got around to it and now it's too late for me to recommend another ancient show that was on Game Show Network until a few days ago - The Name's The Same. The program aired originally from 1952 until 1955, and was hosted by Robert Q. Lewis. Mr. Lewis is a University of Michigan graduate and never was shy about stating that fact on the air. A hilarious moment occurred one night when Robert asked a contestant where he was from and he answered Detroit. Robert then asked him if he was a "Michigan Man" and the guy, who apparently was not a Wolverine but a Spartan, scowled at him and said "Absolutely NOT!!" One of the 3 panelists was Joan Alexander, who is probably best remembered as the voice of Lois Lane on the old Superman radio series. Even if the show had sucked, it would have been worth watching just to see her - what a doll! But the show itself was also quite entertaining, and combined with What's My Line made for a delightful hour of late night TV viewing. A month or two back they were showing the earliest episodes of these shows from the early 50s, and they were fascinating to watch for a number of reasons. One was to see the silly hats that the women contestants would wear. I vaguely remember my grandmother and some of the older teachers at my grade school wearing similar headwear - with flowers, pins and ribbons sticking out in all directions, and some coming complete with these weird fish-net contraptions hanging over the wearer's face. But beyond the odd fashion statements, the shows featured something sadly lacking from TV shows of more recent decades - good old-fashioned wholesome family entertainment. Young people today may not believe it, but once upon a time it was possible to laugh at something on TV that WASN'T dirty.
Unfortunately Game Show Network has replaced The Names The Same with Tattletales, a rather bland, boring show from the rather bland, boring seventies. The channel has even changed it's name to GSN and has added a number of "modern" shows like Extreme Dodgeball in an obvious attempt to appeal to a younger audience. TVLand has done much the same thing, replacing the classics with crap from the 70s and 80s.
My satellite dish pulls in well over a hundred stations, but night after night I check the program guide and find absolutely nothing to my liking. Believe it or not, on most weeknights at 9pm Mountain Time the "best" show that I can find to watch is Howard Stern! More often than not we end up turning the TV off. But if someone had enough smarts to start a new channel, say The Baby Boomer Network, and filled the evening time slots with the likes of The Honeymooners, Password, Ozzie & Harriet, Groucho Marx, Dennis The Menace, Candid Camera and Mr. Ed, my wife and I would be tuned in every night! Is anybody out there listening???


Blogger Scott Westerman said...

I feel your pain! Unfortunately we children of the 60s are now at the upper edege of the demographic and advertisers are aiming at a younger generation. Hence late 70s music now being classified as "oldies" and black and white TV shows are vanishing from TVLand. But there is hope. Good Life TV still plays a ton of great 60s stuff including Combat, Gallant Men, Man From UNCLE, Surfside Six and 77 Sunset Strip. I stumbled across it the other day and my TIVO has been tuned there ever since.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Jack Naka said...

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9:09 AM  

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