Favorite Television of the Past

Patti Abbot, she of wise and interesting ideas, suggested bloggers write something on their favorite television shows of the past. Being a slow starter, I’m posting this early in the afternoon, West Coast Time, so most everyone else has already written, submitted, read and commented at length before this even hits the electroniverse. No matter. I had to think about it a little, you see. What the hell does “favorite” mean? What the hell is “television”? What the hell did I watch, anyway?

There was the Kid Period, when I watched stuff like BUSTER BROWN, ROCKY & BULLWINKLE, and old cartoon shows – meaning the shows are old now, and the cartoons were pretty old then. It’s interesting to me that when I think back, I remember some of the commercials as much as the programs. The tall and short indians (we’d call them “Native Americans” or some such politically correct term now) dancing and singing Woo-woo-woo-woo Welch’s in the grape juice commercials, or voices singing “Brush-a, brush-a, brush-a, with Ipana Toothpaste” while Bucky Beaver showed us how. My god, I’m old.

When I was still a kid but a little older I liked the MICKEY MOUSE CLUB, I thought it was pretty cool, especially the nature segments (like clips from Disney’s The Living Desert) but I guess (besides Annette, of course) I liked Spin and Marty the best. I liked FATHER KNOWS BEST too, and watched that, along with my parents.

I didn’t really watch that much television then, and I still don’t. My parents encouraged me to read, and to “go outside and play”, which for me was swim in the pool or climb trees or play pretend in a hundred ways. There were no other kids my age nearby, so I made up my own adventures and played them out solo. But I digress…

After lots of thought and a little deciding what “favorite TV show” means, here’s what I came up with.

Of the old network shows, I liked MY THREE SONS pretty well. I thought HAWAII 5-0 was good and I loved PETER GUNN. PERRY MASON is still a favorite. So was 77 SUNSET STRIP, in spite of Kooky (Ed Byrnes). Later, M*A*S*H was a favorite, it was consistently very, very good. I also liked IT TAKES A THIEF pretty well, at least the first two seasons. Also, MACMILLAN AND WIFE .

My grown-up favorites? I’ve come up with three:  NOVA, NATURE and MASTERPIECE THEATER.  Okay they’re all PBS shows originating in various places, but these were shows that, for a couple of decades, I rarely missed and often videotaped. MYSTERY! was also a favorite.

That’s it. I’m sure there are more, but my brain is tired.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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13 Responses to Favorite Television of the Past

  1. Remember, our TV choices were constrained back in the B&W era of broadcast TV, Rick. We only got ABC, CBS, and NBC. PBS was on a funky FM channel that never came in without plenty of “snow.” We also received a couple Canadian channels, but we had to fiddle with the antenna to get them to come in right. Now, 500 channels is the HDTV standard on cable here.

  2. Buck says:

    Turns out that a remake of HAWAII 5-0 is in the works at CBS television. I don’t know too much about the original, but I do like that opening theme music. Hope they use it in the new one.

    PETER GUNN also had a pretty good theme song.

  3. Richard says:

    George – I do remember the networks were it, George, (here: 2, 4 and 7 which were CBS, NBC and ABC respectively. We also had local stations, here there were three of those, on the dial they were 5, 9 and 13, and this was in the early years. When PBS came along, it was clear, not snowy, but programming was limited.

    I answered with the favorite shows of the past, which I define as 20 or more years ago, and by that definition I stand by the choices. I mentioned the other shows before that.

  4. Richard says:

    Buck – it sure did! Still a favorite, and the two albums (and CDs) of the music from that show still get a lot of play here in my home. As for themes, I also liked Mr. Lucky. And of course M*A*S*H had a good one.

  5. Richard says:

    Oh, and George, I know this is the digital age and all, but your 400 channels translates to my 92 of them, unless I pay a silly amount of money for a special “digital package” and rent a set-top box (I hate them, they require yet another dang remote, and I already have five including a universal)… but that’s my problem. The 92 channels gives me at least 40 in languages I don’t speak and programs I don’t want anyway, so I expect 400 would be more of the same. Sturgeon’s Law no doubt applies to cable television.

    Of all that, we actually watch perhaps 20 stations.

  6. Todd Mason says:

    You know, I hardly ever “suffered” from the Only Three Channels limitation…I spent my childhood in suburbs of large cities, or close enough, so that there were always independent stations and several PBS stations putting something on that might be of interest…and even the commercial network affiliates often had to compete with each other sometimes with whatever syndicated materials they could augment their network feeds with (in Connecticut, we had not only multiple PBSes but multiple ABCs, so the Hartford station was always willing to try new syndie series even in primetime).

    But, yeah, my own channel count with cable is probably at about 100 or so (utterly discounting religious infomercial and Home Shopping channels), of which I actually watch thirty or forty very much at all (including the plexes of HBO, Showtime and Starz/Encore…C-SPANs, Comedy Central, Sundance, IFC, Cartoon Net’s Adult Swim, USA, TNT, TCM, AMC, FX…the local affiliates, and the independent public station which has a secondary channel that feeds MHz WorldView 24/7 and another which plays Link TV a fair amount of the time…

  7. Todd Mason says:

    Of course, it helps that PBS was formed when I was five, though I caught a bit of NET’s programming before that…

  8. Richard says:

    Hmmm, Todd I guess, extrapolating your age from your comment, you don’t remember those Ipana Toothpaste commercials.

  9. Evan Lewis says:

    Of all your choices, my vote goes to 77 Sunset Strip. Of course, I haven’t seen an episode since it originally aired, so it’s hard to say how the show would strike me now.

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  11. Jeff Meyerson says:

    How can you say we “suffered” when we had PINKY LEE, ANDY’S GANG, THE THREE STOOGES, ABBOTT & COSTELLO and SOUPY SALES?


  12. Richard says:

    Jeff, I didn’t like any of those except Soupy Sales, and his bits with White Fang and Black Tooth. He was kinda risque at one point, at least to my age group.

    Also, I didn’t much care for BOZO, or KUKLA, FRAN AND OLLIE. Puppet shows in general seemed stupid and boring. Obviously, I was already quite the intellectual. 🙂

  13. George Kelley says:

    My favorite Soupy Sales joke was when he asked, “What word starts with F and ends in K?” There was a collective gasp by the audience. “Firetruck,” Soupy answered with that goofy grin.

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