Monday, October 5, 2015

Be Grateful for the 60s

Why am I writing about the 1960s? No clue, honestly. One thought led to another and boom, here I am. Analyzing pieces of a decade of television that, in my opinion, has really changed the way television, movies, and media are perceived. Today I'm going to address some TV shows from the 60s that I love and know. Maybe not necessarily the best, but I know well enough to address here.

Before I get to the shows and whatnot, let's talk about the changes in that decade. Specifically, there's a movie that explains the story well. Bonanza and Gunsmoke were hot. They were shows well-received by audiences. But then man went to the moon and the wild west was forgotten for a new frontier. So shows like Star Trek and Lost in Space took place of the westerns for their look into the future instead of in the past. This storyline plays out well in Disney Pixar's Toy Story as we see Woody fear fading out in comparison to Buzz Lightyear. Toy Story 2 exlpains this concept even further.

Let's take a moment to honor some TV shows that I don't know as well, but definitely are worth naming in the Sci-fi category: Mission: Impossible, Lost in Space, Get Smart, and The Avengers (UK). Oddly enough, each of those TV shows has had at least one movie in the last 20 years. Let's be honest, not all of them fared well.

Sesame Street: Wait, I'm starting with a show about animated puppets teaching you lessons? Yep. Why? First, Sesame Street shirts at Comic Con. I could use that fact alone to put it on this list. But besides that, look at what Sesame Street did for us. First, it boosted Jim Henson's career. Being a puppeteer was not a big deal. But thanks to the Street, we were brought the Muppets (my personal favorite group of characters, despite current thoughts on the latest show.)

The Twilight Zone: (Yes, technically it started in 1959, but it was mostly in the 60s.) I think only Robert Stack's voice on Unsolved Mystery is creepier than the Twilight Zone's intro. But this is a classic that brought horror and twists on such an unparalleled level. Sometimes, it's campy. But in the end, I feel like the Twilight Zone played mind games more than anything. I recall a CBS special a few years ago talking about the 30 biggest plot twists in TV history, or something akin to that. The Twilight Zone made the list with The Eye of the Beholder. If you've not seen it, I highly recommend it.

Bewitched: Elizabeth Montgomery's Samantha Stephens is one of TV's most iconic characters. She was the housewife that did more magic and mayhem than anything else. Oh she's a witch. And Darren (either one, whatever) had a lot to deal with concerning Sam, her mom, and later their daughter. Not to mention all the other random relatives that popped up. Bewitched did have difficulty maintaining some of its originality over its run, but still, in a decade of TV shows that lasted 5 or less years, Sam wiggled her nose for an impressive 8 years.

I Dream of Jeannie: Jeannie was NBC's "answer" to Bewitched. A completely different concept as it took a Major and gave him a Jeannie. This is a show that redeems Larry Hagman in a viewers eye, if you somehow watched him as J.R. Ewing on Dallas first, despite it starting almost a decade later than Jeannie. Either way, this show is fun watching a genie misinterpreting the wants of another human being.

Star Trek: Nothing beats the original. Except...well....I can't say I have much affinity toward the original. I much prefer Picard and crew. Sisko and Janeway gave entertaining voyages for varying reasons. And any "real" Trekkie...Trekker....whatever...appreciates The Wrath of Khan (even though I like The Voyage Home better). But if it weren't for Kirk and company and their original journeys in the "high tech" 60s show, we would have nothing. Kirk, Spock, Bones, et al started one of the biggest cults in the U.S.

The Munsters: The first half of another pairing of similar TV shows. I've heard a lot of people refer to The Munsters as an Addams Family copycat. Funny enough, The Munsters first aired 6 days after The Addams Family's 1964 premier. Both aired for 2 seasons and ended in the spring of 1966. And oddly enough The Munsters had the higher original ratings. The characters in The Munsters, however, were less interesting, at least to me. It was basically mocking the Leave it to Beaver lifestyle with the common monster movies of the time. The Munsters deserve some respect for creating some memorable characters though. Just not as memorable as....

The Addams Family: If you are friends with me on Facebook, you'd know for most of the last year and a half, I've posted a "Happy Wednesday" post using a picture of a Wednesday Addams. The Addams Family is one of my favorite TV families. The 1990s movies are on my all time favorite movies. Not necessarily top 10, but definitely top 50...one day I'll actually make that list. The character of Wednesday Addams was originally a happy-go-lucky little girl who loved life, just not the life we usually know, but she is still loved, even in that incarnation. Morticia and Gomez have a romance that is matched by none and, in my opinion, should be emulated...minus the destruction of trains and decimation of roses. And the rest of the clan make up one of the most functional, dysfunctional families to ever exist.

Batman: This short-lived show about the Dynamic Duo of the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder did not have the world's greatest acting. Burt Ward's Dick Grayson was supposed to be too young to drive in the first season. Yeah, he didn't pass for 15...21? Yeah. Of course, he was 21. However, Adam West's time as the not-so-Dark Knight is fondly remembered. Yeah, it was campy and corny, but it was fun. And to this day, I still love it. This show was awesome for bringing Batman and its villains into our homes week-in and week-out on the same Bat channel and that same Bat time. I was first introduced to Batman through this show. As well as some of the comic's famous villains. Julie Newmar's Catwoman, Meredith Burgess' Penguin, Frank Gorshin's Riddler, and of course, Caesar Romero's Joker are still fondly remembered in my memory. Plus, Lee Meriwether (for the TV movie) and Eartha Kitt did time in the Cat suit and they performed their role justly. John Astin (well-known as the aforementioned Gomez Addams) had a decent showing as the Riddler. But let's not forget Mr. Freeze, King Tut, Egghead, Lord Ffogg, and Marsha, Queen of Diamonds among other great characters.

Dr. Who (the first 2 doctors): Hey, I'm a Whovian! If you're surprised, this must be the first time you've been to this blog. So Doctor Who started in 1963. That's a few years before Star Trek. And definitely well over a decade before Star Wars. The Doctor Who fandom started small. But BBC kept this franchise going with its ever changing characters for 25 years, an attempted reboot, and then a reboot that stuck. But if Patrick Troughton had failed at replacing the semi-irreplaceable William Hartnell, this show would have died in 1966. Instead, people caught on to how this show would continue. And we were met with Daleks and Cybermen time and time again, two of the most famous villain races of all time. We saw history and scientific futures brought to TV.

So....thanks to the 60s, we've had some great TV shows that have spun off some great, and sometimes even greater, TV shows, movies, plays, and especially cults. Of course, I was born well over a decade after the 60s, but I am very grateful for reruns of such great shows.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

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