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Baby Boomer Chronicles (BBC) 1960’s TV: the Creative and the Corny- The Corny
Now that we have passed the introduction, let’s go negative with the corniest TV shows of the period from the eyes of a child growing up in 1960’s
Batman (1966, ABC)
This was really the first show of its kind and quite imaginative. The pop art, Andy Warhol style was visually appealing. This was a period when a color television was still a ‘big deal’. After a time, I began to like the villains better than I did Batman and Robin, as they were so predictable. I was actually hoping that one of those cliff hanger traps that the dynamic duo got into Wednesday night would actually be their demise the following evening. The program played on Wednesdays and Thursdays of each week. Even when I was a kid, I knew that something was wrong with Robin, they way he would jump around all of the time. When the Green Hornet came on to the scene interest in Batman waned rather quickly.
Bewitched (1964, ABC)
This was an unbelievable show for many reasons outside the liberal use of witchcraft by Samantha Stevens. I always wondered about this lady who was more powerful than Superman. Imagine, when she twitched her nose, virtually anything was possible. Why would anyone with that kind of power live with a bonehead like (no witchcraft) Darrin Stevens? I knew when I was a kid that something was wrong with a lady determined to be a housewife, vacuuming, washing dishes etc. She should have taken her mother, Endora’s advice and accompanied her to Paris. When Samantha and Darrin got into an argument, instead of her twitching her nose and sending him to the sofa downstairs, she should have sent him somewhere where he wasn’t likely to return soon. Such power is overwhelmingly tempting and for anyone to have it and restrain themselves so much was simply not believable, not for me, even then. Endora was right; marrying a mortal was a dumb idea. Looking at it as an adult historian, we see how firmly entrenched the middle class suburban cultural values were ingrained into this society at the time. The cocktail parties, the small talk, etc. Everyone knew their place and any woman, even one of virtually infinite power was still obliged to unconditionally submit to the will of her husband. I doubt if such mismatched relationships are possible today, regardless of the level of affection between the parties involved. All of this is why Betty Freidan and Gloria Steinem needed to come upon the scene. The tragic thing about this series is that all though it is dated, I was hard pressed to find a single adult member of the cast that is still living.
Lost in Space (1965, CBS)
I was crazy about any program dealing with the theme of space travel. In the beginning this show about a family (the Robinsons) on a planned mission to Alpha Centari, a star relatively close to earth, went awry and the ship went off course, it was interesting. The problem came when the show degenerated into an “Ozzie and Harriet” of the heavens. The comic relief provided by Dr. Smith and the ‘tin can’ robot broke the monotony. I saw pictures of astronaut Ed White step out of his Gemini capsule and “walk in space” in 1965. I knew what space looked like and “Lost in Space” was not it. In 1965, my attention span was quite short and the last thing I wanted to see was a drawn out family drama regardless of the part of the galaxy in which it took place. The special effects were not exactly Industrial Light and Magic quality, but a few notches above a pie plate with wires attached. I demanded a great deal from my science fiction, because I followed the genre closely in literature. I was reading Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Heinlein, I wasn’t interested in fantasy dumbed down for the mass audience. I knew better. I knew from studies of the solar system that earth like planets were uncommon. Every time the Jupiter 2, the name of their vessel, crashed landed it was on an earthlike planet. Mrs. Robinson was planting her flowers and vegetables just outside the ship to pass the time until they made the needed repairs. Why could they not have crashed landed on a gas giant (Jupiter) or upon a celestial body with no atmosphere or an atmosphere lacking in oxygen. Guess that there would be no flower gardens this time. Here’s to you. Mrs. Robinson!!