Sunday, September 16, 2007

TEE-VEE TOO-DAY! (or at least the past week or so)

I remember once mentioning in my own fabled fanzoonie a loooong time ago somethinorother to the effect that while Billy Miller's first love was the radio and he wouldn't rest until he and that once-magnif/now utter trashoid medium saw "eye to eye," my first and foremost was the television and I woudn't rest until I saw eye to eye with that now-monstrosity either! Years later, I can still find a lotta substance regarding this typically hot-headed statement especially considering how that entire industry, which used to cater to every imaginable whim and fancy of the oft-loathed mid-Amerigan family unit, seems to spew abject venom and hatred towards the same people it once uplifted in a way that would have put a smile on every dissident beatnik/hippie's not to mention Josef Stalin's, well-collectivised face. From its newscasts and "forums" (usually hosted by a Phil Donahue/Bill Moyers-clone with a panel of nine liberals trying to coax the sole conservative to come over to their side, or worse yet mercilessly berates Catholics and now even traditionalist Jews for being so against the grain of societal evolution yet begs 'em all to "vote our way") to the entertainment which usually ended up about as grim as can be which could be a douser for your average workaday fellow looking for some escapism, television sure ain't the bastion of FUN like it was back when I was a kid when although there were only three stations to choose from, at least you had more of a choice (for unrepentant suburban tubba-lard brats!) than with a whole slew of stations offering the same-old for an audience I wouldn't have thought even existed a mere twenny years back!

I sure do miss the days when I could very well click on my set and tune into a McHALE'S NAVY rerun or DEPUTY DAWG cartoon (on your fave-rave local UHF station) without much effort, and yeah, I'll admit that it's hard getting that lump downna throat 'n admitting that them days are gone forever even if that does tend to make me look like Joe Square in the face of today's unrepentant decadence! However, with the advent of a satellite dish onto the abode at least I have a few more excuses to sit in front of the boob tube these days, and although it ain't like it was back in olden times when tee-vee was made for the aforementioned every day slob out there, at least I can PRETEND to be one by merely flickin' on the box and settling back with some programming that's seemingly goin' the way of the dodo bird and various alternative ensembles led by J. Neo Marvin.

But sadly enough, a lotta the shows that were part and parcel to many a station's late-night and weekend schedules in the seventies/eighties only to make the trek to cable inna nineties can't be found anywhere as of now, a change from even a good three years back when it looked as if mucho b&w Eisenhower/JFK/Johnson-era tee-vee was pretty easy to latch onto thanks to the smart program directors at a number of these upstart cable nets. At least the choice of watching THE RIFLEMAN on the Hallmark channel or LEAVE IT TO BEAVER on TV Land (with a classic thirties snoozer on TCM) was akin to the old days when you had the same dilemma re. your local broadcast tee-vee stations, but even now it seems as if many of the classic (and not-so) fifties-through-seventies faves can't be found anywhere no matter how hard you go looking through your on-screen guide. Now, it ain't like I'm expecting a goodie like DECEMBER BRIDE let alone CHECKMATE or all-time fave NAKED CITY to pop up on the schedule any day soon, but sure-as-shootin' I gotta admit that I liked things a lot better back when HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL and GUNSMOKE were vying for my precious viewing time, and (strange as it seems) who would have ever thought that I would actually be nostalgic for 2003 anyways???

So obviously this piece ain't gonna be one of those Robot Hull in CREEM surveys of the 1975-76 tee-vee season (which was a classic on both the network/PBS and local station levels) nor will it be as good as, say, Mark Jenkins' own interesting early-seventies tee-vee observations in HYPERION, but I would consider it much better'n any of the eighties-era CREEM's lame attempts at documenting culture both past and present which only proved that "going with the flow" and keeping up with the times just doesn't work if those said times are strictly dungeonville, as Maynard G. Krebs once put it. Naw, this piece is gonna be about the very little television that I watch, and considering how I've declined from about five/six hours a day as a goofball kid to about four/six hours a week (depending on whether or not there's a good moom pitcher on) NOW, maybe this piece ain't gonna be as long as it should be but it's sure gonna be about as good a summary of tee-vee (on a modern day anti-intellectual slob refuses to die! level) as yer likely t' get from anyone whose braincells are as fine-tuned and rockism-inspired as mine!

For the old necessities it's TV Land all the way, though even they certainly have been slipping with less classic fifties/sixties wares and loads of more-recent drivel like LITTLE HOUSE, A NEW BEGINNING and M*A*S*H that certainly hasn't stood the test of time unless you're one of the millions who consider KNIGHT RIDER classic tee-vee programming (and calm down, Shute!). Now I'll admit that I find the earlier M*A*S*Hes funny at times, like when the show was trying to be SGT. BILKO with a bad case of seventies liberalism tossed in (I caught the one where the guys ran the home movies of Frank Burns' wedding a few weeks back and thought that scene was a hoot before doing a quick channel surf away from the rest of the thing!), but as the series progressed and became so self-conscious of itself it was hard to tell where the episode ended and the socially-relevant workings of its actors began. I'm sorry TV Land, but when I think of classic television I'm thinking 1957-67 with a few sidesteps before and after, not this seventies swill that seems to have set the pace for way too many snoozers that have appeared since! Still, TV Land is the place for all of those BLOG TO COMM-approved high-energy television shows still finding an audience even this late in the game like LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, THE MUNSTERS and THE ADDAMS FAMILY even thought I find that it was a lot healthier watching these programs in the post-school afternoon hours and on those same stations that now run OPRAH, DR. PHIL and marathon news broadcasts during the pre-dinner hour! Sheesh, if such local "programming" was part and parcel of my own educational process back during my growing up days I'd probably win an award for time spent in front of textbooks on school nights!

Of course TV Land does offer a few tricks up their usually staid sleeves like a few Mondays back when they ran a BOB NEWHART SHOW marathon that really brought back the memories of classic Saturday Prime Time viewing, and yeah I know I should've been out with the rest of the red-blooded kids running around drinking red-blooded wine and engaging in general red-blooded ruckus-raising, but at least credit me for staying outta trouble and settling back for some of the classier tee-vee viewing of the era before the late-seventies hadda come in and ruin just about everything tube-wise! Some of you might prefer MARY TYLER MOORE for your seventies humor yaps but frankly I gotta say that Moore's inbred perkiness does tend to annoy and (at least for me) the show only really worked when Ted Knight as the high-larious anchorman Ted Baxter was a featured character on whatever particular episode had him playing against either Moore or Ed Asner with extremely up-chuckling results. Oddly enough it's the low tone of THE BOB NEWHART SHOW that holds up especially these days, strange since it was exactly that same reservedness that practically ruined sitcoms for a good many years but back in the seventies it sure seemed like a new and refreshing idea!

Elsewhere on the dial there's Turner Classic Movies, a station I hate tuning into because of its very namesake but since said namesake owns just about every movie made before the year 1970 its like I have little choice. Naturally this net runs too much in the way of "class" MGM material I can do without, but if one looks hard enough there might be a prime-cut Warner Brothers offering to soak yerself into or perhaps a low-budget surprise you never would expect, or better yet some silent film that isn't going to be shown inna middle of the night even though ya usually hafta put up with the geeky new soundtracks that come off about as contemporary to the films bein' run as John Williams conducting the Boston Pops would, which come to think of it is what the music used for these silents usually sounds like. And if you ignore host Robert Osbourne's typically stodgy intros/outros and squint your eyes a bit, maybe YOU TOO can pretend you're some normal kinda guy watching this film onna late show sometime in 1963 and revel in all the greatness such fantasies would therein entail!

But for total tee-vee kicks here inna late oh-ohs you just can't beat Boomerang! Yes readers, I really have stepped up in this world for a guy who couldn't even snatch up these stations a good five years back, and just now have I dished out the extra beaucoups for this "premium" I guess it's called network which really is a hoot in a handbasket! This is where all of those old obscurities they used to run on Cartoon Network went, and although you do have to put up with a load of more present-day (which for me is anything after 1975!) gunk along the lines of WACKY RACES or worse yet THE SMURFS and their cheap knockoff clone THE SNORKS there still is more than a fair share of classic tee-vee watchability left on this net to sate the souls of more than a few overgrown BLOG TO COMM readers whose hearts are still firmly set in 1962! Like CN, Boomerang is Hanna-Barbara backed which means that a good 90% of the programming here comes from their studio (the other 10% consisting of old Popeye and Warner Brothers cartoons which don't get aired as much as they should), and although it seems strange enough for one to have to pay extra to glom what was once free network and/or later-on afternoon rerun television it's sure great seeing such uncontested winners as TOP CAT (reconstituted BILKO), THE JETSONS (BLONDIE in outer-space) and THE FLINTSTONES (dunno where they derived this show from, but don't YOU see a strange resemblance between "Yabba Dabba Doo!" and "And away we go!"?????) available for viewing in the here and now. Of course the original Hanna Barbara cartoons made especially for the tee-vee huddled baby boomers (back when that word had all the innocence that one would have originally thought!) are what really get my psyche drooling. Having not seen any Yogi Bear or Huckleberry Hound caroons in almost thirty years I was amazed just how much they took me back to my turdlin' kiddie days while later efforts such as Yippie, Yappie and Yahooie, while not as jam-packtus as their earlier forebearers, still had some of that great dunce-like charm that I'm sure fueled many a local kiddie show back in the latter portion of the sixties. The canned music for these is great (I discovered a few riffs also used on Howdy Doody cartoons and OZZIE AND HARRIET!) and if you can believe it the viewing of these classic late-Ike/early-JFK-era artyfacts really have the power to zoom me back to my playpen days when such tee-vee viewing was pretty much mandatory. Good thing I kept control of my bladder! (And Boomerang, how about bringing back RUFF AND REDDY!)

And for you fag readers out there, what's best about these Hanna Barbara cartoons is that they're just laden with homo overtones to the point where they come off about as camp as Jack Benny romping around in his bloomers in CHARLIE'S AUNT! Sure the presence of Cindy in the Yogi Bear cartoons might make you think that he's a 100% hetro kinda guy, but she's such a zilch-level personality in these 'toons to the point where Cindy ain't really nothing but cartoonland's answer to Lou Ann Poovey! Just enough fodder to keep the police off Yogi's back so to speak, and perhaps animated cartoondom's original fag hag! Sheesh, Yogi and Boo Boo sleep in the same bed and you know what kinda hay Wertham made outta Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson doin' the same thing! (And while I'm onna roll, guess what this all makes Ranger Smith...a downright homophobic representation of authority, that's what!) Taking the Wertham route to its logical conclusion Pixie and Dixie are the ideal fag marriage that is constantly being thwarted by "society" in the role of Mister Jinx! And worst of all, how about the seemingly innocent YAKKY DOODLE cartoons! Fibber Fox is such an outwardly (and perhaps outed) gay character who, besides wearing a turtleneck sweater (!) wants to "eat" Yakky, definitely the "kept duck" of Chopper, the typical bulldog who like Offisa Pupp in the old KRAZY KAT sorta represents the butchier aspects of gay cartoondom. Hmmmmm, maybe these Hanna Barbara cartoons aren't as innocent as I was originally led to believe, so if you want anyone out there to blame for your fag brother or the confusion that set into your sister after she joined the softball team look no further than these!

IT PAYS TO INCREASE YOUR WORD POWER! And that include bloggers from all points of the globe too! Today's case in point are the words "revenge" and "justice"...and while we're at it let's toss in the term "asshole"...look 'em all up!


Todd Lucas said...

Hey Chris, is there an RTN outlet in your area? They're currently running Get Smart and Mission: Impossible in the evenings and, I think, Have Gun, Will Travel around 11:00 pm. Their previous schedule included Gomer Pyle and My Three Sons. Our local (Mt. Vernon, IL) affiliate also carries Off-Beat Cinema on Saturday night.

Christopher Stigliano said...

Are you kidding me? We're lucky that the digital only "MYTV" runs MY THREE SONS, THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, I LOVE LUCY, ANDY GRIFFITH and HAPPY DAYS in the AM! I sure wouldn't mind seeing a GOMER PYLE again after all these years!

Todd Lucas said...

The first two seasons of Gomer are available on DVD but, in a typical cost-cutting move, some of the music has been replaced or deleted altogether. Even Gomer singing "Put On A Happy Face" is gone and instead, the Colonel's daughter and he are briefly seen dancing to a generic instrumental. I guess there's no hope for the Factory's "Lost" and "Candy Cane Madness" when season three sees a release. Sad.