Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Classic TV 101: An Introduction

Last week I read a Blu-Ray review of The Dick Van Dyke Show. The writer began by admitting that before preparing to critique the season one set, he had never watched a single episode of the series. 

This was astounding to me. How could someone with enough interest in pop culture to be a critic for a DVD website be so clueless about one of the medium’s best shows? That’s like a singer who never listened to a Beatles song. And just as I typed that, I remembered Beatles night on the last couple of seasons of American Idol, when some contestants confessed that the songs of the Fab Four were unknown to them.

Yes, this already sounds like a “What’s the matter with kids today?” rant, but I just don’t understand. I realize that some teens and 20-somethings may not be Beatles fans, and I get why they would prefer the music they grew up with to songs written more than 40 years ago. But how could any aspiring signer be completely unaware of the most significant pop/rock band of the 20th century?

Getting back to television – many shows in my DVD collection had ended before I was born, and many others I was too young to appreciate when they first aired. I have very fond memories of the shows I grew up with, sure, but I also love dozens of series from the 1950s and ‘60s.

Knowing how television programming evolved over the decades only deepens my appreciation for shows that are on today. It can also make me nostalgic for an earlier era when TV was less cynical, and 30 minute shows were comprised of 28 minutes of show and just 2 minutes of commercials. 

Most people don’t care as much about television as I do. I get that. But it’s such a dominant presence in our culture that we should be aware of its best concepts and characters, just as we should be familiar with movies and songs and writers and artists from other times and other places.

Comfort TV is here to help. Over the next four weeks I’ll be posting pieces on the television essentials of the 1950s, ’60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.

Hopefully you’ll discover a few gaps in your knowledge and get to experience some wonderful shows for the first time. And for those who know their TV history cold, you’ll find each list makes a great topic of debate with your fellow fans about which shows were chosen and which were left off. It's always fun to start arguments about this stuff. I’m making up the lists now and am already struggling with the selections and the omissions. I'm barely on speaking terms with myself at the moment.

Watch for “Classic TV 101: The 1950s” this coming Monday. 

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Hofstede, you might want to consider joining the Lynda Day George TV group on Yahoo! Groups. It's run by small-screen historian Jonathan Etter. Mr. Etter is admittedly partial towards television of the '60s and '70s, but you'll probably still like the group.