Great TV Shows of the Past
Welcome to yesteryear! I have been working on many hubs recently that are of a serious nature and wanted to take a little break and publish something on the ligher side.
I was watching television recently and most of the shows, at least the ones I watch are serious, such as CSI:NY, Law and Order, Criminal Minds, Bones, Parenthood, and many educational stations.
I began thinking of some of the shows I saw as a youth, growing up in the 1960s. Ah...those were some great times for the most part. I am a Baby Boomer, or an old fart if you like. Some of the shows I remember watching as a child were fantastic. A lot of the vulgarity, explicit sexual scenes, and profanity, were almost non-existent. These shows were from what I call, a 'more civilized time' in TV's history.
I would like to share with you some of the shows that made a huge impression on me and though it is over 40 years since these shows were aired, yeah aired...no cable or satellite TV then...recall them fondly. Many are comedies and they were funny, not like some of the sick humor that is on the late shows, but honest goodness, just plain hilarious.
I am not saying that all the shows today are bad, there are several that are funny and interesting, but many are just plain disgusting and promote immoral and unhealthy lifestyles.
Before we get to the fantastic shows, I would like to share a little bit more of what it was like back in the Stone Age when TV was new. When younger people read this, I can just see their eyes bug out and their jaws drop in disbelief. How could we watch TV in this archaic manner? You actually had to get up from your seat to change the channel? How unreasonable! And having to wait a minute for the picture to appear...ridiculous! Then they say that they will go play video games instead. Wrong, they didn't have those back then either! I am surprised we survived all that hardship!
What is a remote?
Television back then was very different from television of today. We had only 3 nationwide channels;' ABC, NBC, and CBS, and a few local stations. These local channels were PBS in nature or strictly for entertainment. Nobody ever heard of Cable TV, or Direct TV. Our shows were sent literally through the 'air'. To get those shows, we had to have some form of antenna. Many had a small 'V' shaped one, called 'rabbit ears', that sat on top of the TV...no flat screens back then. They were alright but had to be constantly adjusted which was a pain. Some, like my family, had a large monstrosity attached to the roof. This aerial antenna was an eyesore, but reception was much better. Looking over the roofs of our subdivision, it looked like some giant went around sticking metal poles in rooftops.
We only had one TV back then. What? You said only 1 TV? Yep, that is what I said. Televisions were very expensive back then and costly to repair. I remember our TV had tubes inside. When you turned it on, it took a few minutes to 'warm up' and display a picture. We didn't have the instantaneous display as we have now. Also, no color! Talk about primitive and roughing it! No color...simply barbaric!! I don't remember when we got a color TV, again very costly, but know it was in the 1970s sometime.
When watching TV, it was a family affair...hmmm...I recall "Family Affair" as a pretty good TV show...starring Brian Keith, Sebastian Cabot, and 3 orphaned kids that the nation just fell in love with...more on that later. Programming was very limited, so we would all gather in the living room. My brother and I would fight for the best spot on the couch, mom would sit between to settle the issue, while dad wisely took a chair next to the couch. Walt Disney came on Sunday evenings and we usually watched that...more on that later too.
Now that the shock has worn off all you spoiled people that grew up with color, wide-screen TVs, HD, Satellite or cable, DVDs, DVRs, and a ton of remotes to run all that with, we can go back to simpler times and see how we cavemen and cavewomen lived back in the ancient times.
Now, sit back and relax in that comfy recliner or beanbag chair, get a nice snack of Jiffy Pop popcorn, and some good ole Kool-Aid, put down your remotes and enjoy this 'Flash to the Past'.
The Golden Era of Television
I am sure many will disagree with me about this, but in my opinion, the early years of TV had some of the best shows in the history of television. Back then, all the fancy special effects weren't as breathtaking as they are today, but for the times, they were pretty darn spectacular. No computers back then to do the dirty work..no, humans, yeah, real people came up with some very clever ideas to pull off these effects. I think they were geniuses!! The imagination involved to think up how to do these stunts and special effects is just plain astonishing! One of the best special effects for the mid 1960's were seen on a show called The Outer Limits...which I am going to tell about in more detail later in this hub. This show was simply AWESOME!
Since I already mentioned a couple of shows, I will begin with them. The first show I recall vividly was the Wonderful World of Disney, but began with the logo, Wonderful World of Color. That should tell you that color TV and shows made that way were rare and brand new! Walt Disney even hosted the show often, which today is almost unheard of for the most part. It aired on Sunday evenings, early enough so kids like me could watch it all and still go to bed on time. The shows were very popular and it stayed on for many years. The variety was great. Sometimes they showed cartoons, like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Some were dramas, tailored to kids, and many kid movies similar to Witch Mountain and The Gnome Mobile. Nature was very popular. I recall one show with a cougar named Charley as the main star. It was about a forest ranger that befriended a baby cougar and he raised it to an adult. They had all sorts of adventures. Some of the nature shows were just educational like what you might see on Animal Planet. This family show was viewed by millions on Sunday nights and was very popular.
The other show I liked was called 'Family Affair'. It was a light comedy about a bachelor uncle, Brian Keith (Uncle Bill) and his butler, Sebastian Cabot (Mr. French). They lived in New York in a nice apartment and pretty affluent area. Well, one day, he was informed that 3 children, 2 nieces and 1 nephew would be coming to live with him soon since he was the only relative they had when their parents died. The two youngest, a boy and girl were twins and about Kindergarten age, while the oldest was a girl, Sissy. She was a teenager. So throw 2 little kids, a teenager, a perfectionist butler and a bachelor together and what do you get? A hit TV show, that's what! The two youngest kids were instant stars and the nation just fell in love with them. They were very cute, lovable kids!
Pass the Batwing Crunchies Please.
There are so many shows that I recall and could take most of Hubpages storage just listing them. Shows like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Bonanza, Time Tunnel, Ultraman, Green Acres, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, Lassie, The Twilight Zone, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart and so many more! They don't make shows like those anymore...what a pity! High quality shows like this are rare these days.
The next few shows that I would like to mention are comedies. They are classics in every sense of the word. They are still shown in reruns to this day and these shows are 40 years old at least. The humor was wonderful and the characters...unforgettable. I think you will know what I mean when you see them.
One of my favorites was F-Troop, starring Ken Berry, which began in 1965. Now this show really cut me up, especially the one soldier, Corporal Agorn, played by Larry Storch. This show takes place in the wild west, just after the Civil War. The west, though wild was nothing compared to the lunacy in this army troop! The commander, Capt. Wilton Parmenter is given command of Ft. Courage on the frontier to protect the nearby town and area against the bloodthirsty Howcowie indians. Parmenter is a bumbling, clumsy officer, but has a heart of gold and loves his command. His family comes from a long line of heroic, fierce warriors, all highly decorated and respected. Our captain friend is looked down upon and the family is embarrassed to even acknowledge him. He gains status when the unit he is in is attacked and is in full retreat from an Indian encounter. Parmenter, then just a regular grunt, gets his horse running TOWARD the Indians by mistake, sneezing like crazy. When he passes the retreating soldiers, he sneezes and they think he said, "Charge!" The entire army wheels around and charges the Indians and rout them. Parmenter is honored for his bravery in leading the charge and is made Captain. While pinning on his medal, blood is drawn from the pin, so they give him command of Ft. Courage because he was 'wounded' in the battle!
Both are about some creepy families that think they are completely normal, American families and everyone else is strange. What was strange is that they both aired for the first time in 1964...creepy. My favorite, The Munsters, was simply outstanding! Hermann, the star, played by Fred Gwynne is a big, monstrous looking creature that looks just like Frankenstein, but he is just a big kid at heart and a real softy... and talk about naïve! He is super strong and can lift cars with one hand, throw footballs and baseball over a mile, and works in a funeral parlor. His family is equally weird, a vampire grandfather, Count Dracula, that can change into a bat and drives super powerful car made out of a coffin. He is a mad scientist and has a lab in the basement, which is a dungeon and all of his experiments fail...causing explosions and all kinds of funny outcomes. There is a son named Eddie that is a werewolf and the weirdest of all, Cousin Marilyn, a hot blonde chick that is normal in every way. Under the stairs is their little pet, Spot. He is some kind of dinosaur or dragon since he breathes fire. I recall one show where Spot gets loose and gets into the city sewer system and creates all kinds of havoc, as Hermann and Grandpa go after him! One of the best ones I recall. Another great episode is when Hermann loses the family's hotrod in a bet with some jerk and Grandpa builds a dragster out of a coffin to win it back! The things Hermann gets into are so funny and entertaining. A definite hit and I will never forget it.
The Addams Family is a little different, but similar to the Munsters and started in 1964 also. This family's men like to crash electric trains in the basement or blow them up with dynamite. The wife, Morticia, has a plant named Cleopatra that is a man-eater, but is kept under control. She is really odd, but nice looking and she drives her husband mad with passion sometimes, tastefully done I might add. No jumping into bed and listening to all the noise. My favorite though is their butler, Lurch. A giant, scary looking guy that plays the harpsichord and is very serious and frightening. His voice is just perfect and a few things he said in that series are classics today. "You rang?" is one of those when his employers ring for him to come do something. Of couse the bell they ring sounds like a huge gong! This family also has a pet, I guess you would call it that, named Thing. A dismembered hand that lives in a box and gets the mail, answers the telephone, etc. And how could I forget Cousin Itt. Something, still not sure what is covered entirely in hair and talks in some language only the Addams group can understand. Cousin Itt is an absolute genius in intelligence which is really funny. Very creative.
Link to the beginning soundtrack of the Outer Limits.
- The Outer Limits - 1963 - Intro Theme Song
I love this theme song. Fits perfectly with the show's content!
Beam Me Up, Scotty!
The last two or three shows I want to mention are Science Fiction. The first is one of the most popular shows in history. Several TV series and about 9 movies were made from the original show. Of course, it is Star Trek. It first aired in 1966. I really don't have a lot to say about this show since it is well known, even today. But when it began, it was ahead of its time...very powerful and at first was not very popular. Then as people kept watching it, its popularity just skyrocketed and is still going strong in reruns, spin-offs, and sequels. So many of our popular science fiction shows today were the offshoots of Star Trek or got their ideas from that show. This show was and is pure gold for Paramount. I don't believe any other TV show has had the success as Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry made TV history with this one! The actors and actresses, pretty much unknown when it started are famous worldwide now.
The next show was a horror/science fiction series and another of my favorites...The Outer Limits. This show was really far out there in terms of imagination and stories. Some of the shows were so bizarre that you just never knew what to expect. The special effects, makeup, and creatures were phenomenal for the time. Some were even used later in movies...you may recognize some. Also, many TV and movie stars made their debut on this show. A few characters on Star Trek began here...William Shatner, Nichol Nicols, and Leonard Nimoy, and others appeared later on shows like Mission Impossible, etc.
That eerie announcement at the beginning of each show is a classic and I still remember most of it. Click on the link to the right to hear this show's chilling introduction by the announcer. It still gives me the shivers. The producers and writers of this show really didn't get the credit they deserved...this show was WELL done!
The last show was a mix of drama and comedy. This show started off strong, a very serious science fiction story, but later turned into more of a children's show with some silly, but memorable shows. Its popularity went down fast after the first season. The show I am referring to is....Lost In Space. It has a cult following now and I liked the show when it first started..think I was about 12. It is about a family that is launched into space on a journey to Alpha-Centauri to colonize a planet since Earth is in trouble. But a mean, nasty character named Dr. Zachary Smith is determined to sabotage the mission. He 'accidentally' gets trapped aboard at lift off and continues to try to sabotage the mission. He gets an environmental robot to help him by reprogramming it. The robot goes crazy after Dr. Smith reprograms it and starts to destroy the ship, sending the Jupiter 2 spaceship out of control and then gets lost. The first shows were extremely well done and believable. The adventures that occur in space and the crash landing on an unknown planet to do repairs are great. Survival is the theme for the first several shows and are done well. Totally believable and serious. After awhile though, the show got a little silly and lost its popularity. I think the show was on for 4 seasons. Warning, Warning... Danger, Will Robinson!
I hope this little glimpse to the 1960s was enjoyable. Those who lived and recall these great shows, I hope, will remember them fondly! They are part of us and our history. Characters like Will Robinson, the Robot, Maxwell Smart, Oliver Wendell Douglas, Mr. Haney, and Capt. Kirk are etched forever in our minds. Although the shows mostly are gone, our memories keep them alive in our minds and hearts
"We now turn control of your television set to you...until next time, when we reach from the inner mind.....to the Outer Limits!