I feel old.
Wow, I saw that Nick At Nite is airing That 70's Show. Mila Kunis is younger than me and a show she was on is airing on the classic television network. Roseanne has been on for a while now and I totally remember watching that show when it aired.
I find it interesting that when I first started watching Nick At Nite before I was even 10, the shows that aired were from the 50's and 60's. There was such a disparity between that time period and the one I was living in that it was as if I had unearthed some time capsule and this was the footage I found. The shows were relatively obscure especially if one's parents weren't growing up in the 50's.
With the growing popularity of Nick At Nite, the shows became more recognizable. They were getting incredibly popular shows that were of a high caliber in their day. The best of which remained a high caliber to the new audience.
I looked at some of the programs that have aired on Nick At Nite during the duration of my watching it (mainly grade school through high school). I was reminded of their lineup the good, the bad, and the just plain weird. I decided to reminisce about some of them.
Starting with some of the original programming, I'll divide the shows in the Like, Tolerable and Awful categories. I will admit that Tolerable could slide into the Like category depending on how terrible the other stuff on television was and how bored I might be at the time.
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis- This quirky slice of high school life still holds up as a funny and worthwhile show. Plus, Maynard is a beatnik and how cool is that?
Car 54, Where Are You?- The original Police Academy but with better jokes...
Get Smart- I was just as amused by Don Adams' bungling spy as 99's mod outfits. I hoped that a phone booth would lead me to a secret underground
F Troop- Okay, I like the show even though it's mostly idiotic. I like how O'Rourke and Agarn's wheeling and dealing was often successful despite the fact that they don't really have the brains to pull it off. I also like how the clueless Capt. Parmeter was always rebuffing the advances of Wrangler Jane.
The Dick Van Dyke Show- Great show. It holds up, too. I have all the seasons on DVD and most episodes make me laugh out loud. It seamlessly blends workplace and marital comedy. Plus, I am a big fan that they only brought around the kid when it was funny to do so, focusing more on Rob and Laura's marriage than the family unit itself.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show- Having an affection from Ms. MTM from the The Dick Van Dyke Show, I was happy to see her with an actually good show of her own. The situations may be dated but the great characters make the show. Mary and Lou's relationship is the precursor to Jack and Liz Lemon's. The lesser noticed relationship between the cerebral wise cracking Murray and the dim bulb news anchor, Ted. Then there's the uppity apartment owner, Phyllis, who vies against the very blunt New Yorker Rhoda for the title of Mary's bestie.
Taxi- Talk about great characters! Taxi has nothing but fascinating characters doing funny and often poignant things. Danny De Vito shines as Louie De Palma the lecherous and morally deficient dispatcher. Christopher Lloyd rivals him as the burned out hippie Jim Ignatowski (actually from an affluent family of obese people). Judd Hirsch and Andy Kaufman also rock.
I Love Lucy- Before Little Ricky and before the house in the country, this show was consistently excellent. Sure, it is formulaic and a little chauvinistic because Desi always figures out Lucy's plans and gets the better of her in the end. It had to be that way because having a woman be smarter and more capable than her man would be too much in the 50's.
The Monkees- Sure it's a ripoff of A Hard Day's Night but I didn't know that when I first saw the show. It was zany, fast paced hijinks's with good music.
The Bob Newhart Show- This was a consistently funny show about a psychologist and his parade of oddball patients.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents- There was always something interesting going on in this show and you got to see Alfred Hitchcock talking in his buttery English accent.
Dragnet- This show actually moved from Awful to Like which is impressive. I was so bored that I watched a marathon and was hooked after that. I knew I was in trouble when I'd laugh at the show's few terrible jokes.
The Jeffersons- Louise Jefferson may be the sweetest character to ever bless a sitcom. She had infinite patience for her ignorant but business savvy husband, George. She was kind to all the show's characters and the Willis' are also grating on the nerves. Florence was also great comic fodder for George while they exchanged verbal blows for sometimes an entire show. The theme song may be the best theme song ever.
Sanford and Son- Red Fox is the crotchety grandfather I always wish I had. He always had some sassy thing to say or complain about and was quick enough to jab back with an insult when need be.
Turkey Television- A turkey invented television, enough said...
My Three Sons- This is one of the few shows about a family that wasn't heavy handed with the family values and actually had some funny things happen.
Bewitched- I was never much for this show but it was watchable in a pinch. Endora was kinda cool.
I Dream of Jeannie- This isn't very forward thinking of me but I actually liked Jeannie better than Samantha. The situations were more diverse. Not much more, though...
The Lucy Show- This came on before I Love Lucy aired on Nick At Nite which was confusing to me. Lucy was on with Vivian Vance but where the hell were Fred and Desi? It wasn't a bad show but really just a poor derivative of the original show.
Dennis The Menace- Dennis plays a prank, tells a lie or gets in a sticky situation. Mr. Wilson gets frustrated. Rinse and repeat.
Gilligan's Island- This is really a terrible show but I can sit through it so it lands on the tolerable list.
The Brady Bunch- So many of my friends were obsessed with this show. I never cared for it but if I watched this piece-o-junk with them, then I could get them to watch a quality show with me. In its role as a bargaining chip, it barely graces the tolerable list
Welcome Back, Kotter- This show had its moments. It could be really funny but often wasn't.
Rhoda- As much as I enjoyed Rhoda on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, her own show seems to be an amalgamation of bad Jewish stereotypes. While I can deal with that, the writing was less polished and the characters were not as engaging.
That Girl- The Mary Tyler Moore Show if Mary had a steady boyfriend and was a little less of a feminist...
The Patty Duke Show- Identical cousins? Patty Duke wins an Oscar a few years before and gets blessed with this piece of shit sitcom? She really was too good for it but I can sit through it so it makes this list.
The Donna Reed Show- A live action Norman Rockwell painting. You'd never guess that Ms. Reed's most famous role was a prostitute years earlier.
Green Acres- I'm from the country and they got it right. We all wear overalls all the time and have companion pigs that sit with us at the dinner table. That's easier to believe than the fact that Mrs Douglas doesn't divorce her husband after a month or two in that hellhole.
Phyllis- She was a fun character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show because she was in small doses. Sure Phyllis' snobby arrogant elitism is a facade of an unhappily married woman with a not so great relationship with her daughter. It still doesn't make me like or want to get to know her.
Make Room For Daddy- Yet another family values show but this time Daddy's successful which takes time away from his family. Boo-frickin-hoo.
The Partridge Family- They were definitely better than when the Bradys started singing but the show just wasn't for me. Family values but in a adorable hippy package with hot teen stars and a psychedelic van. No thanks.
Mork and Mindy- For some unknown reason I thought Pam Dawber was one of the prettiest women I had ever seen and it bothered me that she would even associate with Robin Williams' coked out furry ass. You know how you can recognize personality traits that you hate in yourself in other people and in turn hate them? Well, Robin Williams is more than ADHD. He's manic and in a way just like me. It's uncomfortable to watch. That's not the whole of it though. A woman and an alien find love? Really? I know opposites attract but there's no chemistry there.
The Adventures of Superman- Every episode was basically the same. I didn't care about the characters. Simply put, weak sauce...
The White Shadow- A white retired pro baller teaches inner city (a.k.a. black and latino) kids basketball. Does anyone else remember this show? If not, you're lucky.
Mannix and Cannon- I put these two together because I remember they were part of Nick At Nite's ad campaign to get more male viewership. I just remember there's someone who may be a retired cop or a guy whose family got murdered and now he's/they've become the ultimate bad ass detective. They couldn't afford Kojak so they put on this substandard crap.
Lassie- What is it, girl? Timmy's in the well? Why does that Timmy always go falling into wells? I'm tired, Lassie! I just sat down with a cup of coffee and the evening newspaper and I don't feel like following you to the outskirts of town to rescue Timmy's dumb ass again. I say we let him stay overnight and learn his lesson.
Flipper- See above but substitute Lassie for Flipper and Timmy for some other stupid little boy whose name escapes me.
Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp- The least offensive thing about the show is that it exploits chimpanzees. It depicts chimps as racist stereotypes and has possibly the longest intro ever.
Laugh In- Not funny.
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour- Double not funny. People try to tell me this is a ground breaking show but all I hear are crappy twin jokes.
Happy Days- I liked American Graffiti, not this hackneyed made for TV version. It's creepy how long these people stay in high school. Think about Matthew McConaughey from Dazed and Confused slap an G rating and you have Fonzie. I want to see fat, balding Fonz still getting chicks at the diner. You wanna know what the only good thing about Happy Days is? Weezer's "Buddy Holly" video.
Laverne and Shirley- A spin off of a show I hated with boring characters but a catchy theme song. The end.
Mister Ed- God, this show was awful and it was the only show other kids I knew watched on Nick At Nite. There's a horse that only one man can hear so people think he's crazy. Insert into an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode and then you have something.
These are just some of the many shows that aired during a certain time period (my youth). I realize I hate a lot of beloved shows and like shows that people don't like. Like most of my writing, it's all conjecture.
Just wait while the New Girl might be new to broadcast TV this year she'll probably still be pretty new by the time she hits Nick at Nite.
And for those who do not know...