Baby Boomer Chronicles (BBC) 1960’s TV: the Creative and the Corny- The Creative
Now that we have passed the introduction, let’s start positive with the most creative TV shows of the period from the eyes of a child growing up in 1960’s
The Man from Uncle (1964, NBC)
This cloak and dagger show was action packed and somewhat futuristic in its layout, weapons, etc. Got to love those acronyms, THRUSH was the organization of bad guys. I was just a kid and I liked action. The adventures of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin kept me riveted each week.
Green Hornet (1966, ABC)
This was great television; it did not last very long though. It was a crime drama that had all the action that I craved. But, the character of the Green Hornet was a side show. The real star of the show was Kato, played by Bruce Lee. It was sheer poetry to watch him ‘kick ass’ every week. He was so smooth and effortless in subduing the bad guys. Many of us took an interest in the martial arts, after seeing him in action. Not as visually appealing as the Batman program, but most of us kids could relate to Kato, much more than to Robin, the Boy Wonder.
The Time Tunnel (1966, ABC)
I was crazy about any program dealing with the theme of time travel. Taking place in the year 1968, which was the immediate future, two men are lost in time as a result of an accident regarding the experimental time machine, part of Operation Tic-Toc. Irwin Allen, creator and producer of the series, was a visionary fixated on bringing his sci-fi themes to a medium with limited scope and budget. I always wondered if the deeper paradoxes involved with time travel were ever to be brought to the forefront, I think not. We did not want to confuse audiences too much. I watched and wondered how two 20th century men would negotiate and explain their presence at key historical events that were the theme of many episodes.
The Outer Limits (1963, ABC)
This program came on Fridays and was so dark and ominous in its appearance and layout, it scared the hell out me and my siblings, each week. Its subject matter could involve anything from the far flung galaxies to the dust ball in the corner that you always never notice, but could end up harboring an alien race. You could never go to bed at night and dismiss something you see on the program as improbable for just that reason. As an adult, I still have episodes on a storage drive, as I considered the show very imaginative with the black and white adding to the suspense. The later remake by Showtime in 1995, really could not recreate the allure of the original series.
Star Trek (1966, NBC)
I loved this show, completely futuristic, the weapons, the adversaries, all of it. The possibilities of space travel were shown as unlimited. I did not know much about it all except that it had a basis in science. I never understood that the technology that I was witnessing was mere fantasy at the time (most of it still is), but do not ruin the show for me. The episodes, many touching upon current events and problems in 1960’s America did not always resonate. I just remember ‘fire phasers’ and related to the daring-do of Jim Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise. It was fun to watch Spock and Dr. McCoy argue and trades barbs all of the time. Looking back upon it, I guess the ladies of today would have a problem with the ‘baby doll’ uniforms they were wearing on the show. In later years, I watched Kirk put on his boots after a night with an alien woman. This guy never practiced safe sex, but slept with anyone or anything in the galaxy that moved. Who knows, by the 23rd century that little problem may well have gone away.
The Wild Wild West (1965, CBS)
More action and those gadgets Jim West had, just the right ones when he needed them. This wasn’t like those western shows such Bonanza or Gunsmoke. This was broad, dealing with villains having 20th century ambitions for national and world conquest, while locked within the technological restraints of the latter half of the 19th century. I was not necessarily a fan of westerns but this one was different. Dr. Loveless, West’s diminutive adversary, was my favorite, a resentful little guy determined to make to world pay for something that it owed him. As kids we always wonder why West got all the girls at the end and Artemus Gordon, his side kick, came up high and dry. We had developed a hypothesis, those suits he always wore made him look like a clown!!
The Outer Limits
The Rat Patrol (1966, ABC) Action packed program taking place in North Africa during WWII. Four American combatants on jeeps make fools of Rommel and the entirety of Germany’s Afrika Corps.
Hawaii Five 0 (1968, CBS) I was a little older and had enough attention span to enjoy this crime drama. The sights and sounds of Hawaii that I saw in the series inspired my imagination and have a great deal to do with why I live in the Hawaiian Islands today. The ‘book him, Dano’, line from the Steve McGarrett was classic. I will take a lot of work for the new series remake to measure up to this original.
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