Monday, July 16, 2012
The long lonely road...
Lately I discovered a new channel on my satellite called MeTV, and it seems directed to baby boomers with shows like Mash, Rockford Files and even more obscure ones like The Rebel, Route 66 and the always funny Car 54, Where Are You.
Those still with me after that onslaught of 60's and 70's TV will consider those titles with maybe some interest or just plain nostalgia. In an era of instant tweets and a need for something new and hip every 60 seconds, these shows are definitely a throw-back to a different era.
For one thing, any guy over 18 and coming from a middle-class home that couldn't afford to pay off someone in government (like Dick Cheney and GWG) would probably be drafted and sent over to Vietnam and 50,000 of them would never come home again. Compare that to the "war" in Iraq.
But back to meTV, it was available on my old 13" antenna TV and I realized last week that it was also on DirecTV. Most of those shows are forgettable to me, watching one episode was enough that I didn't need to repeat it, but others stuck with me.
Those would be:
Combat (still an excellent WW11 show with Vic Morrow. The episodes have strong moral lessons and the black & white episodes gave you a feel of war.
Route 66 one of my favorites, 2 guys hit the road and travel across America in a Corvette which was actually filmed in different cities and towns across the country.
The Fugitive - about a guy wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, who escapes and wanders the country looking for the one-armed man he saw at his home at the murder. A great show that had one of the biggest audiences ever for the last episode.
The Rebel - about a Confederate cowboy who roams the west after the Civil War trying to make sense of the horrors of war and coming into situations that would put him in jeopardy.
If you see a common thread here, it's pretty obvious, all the series above were about moving around the country, although Combat is a bit of a stretch. Hey, it's Europe. I loved road movies and TV and still do although there aren't any shows like that. There was also the theme running through them a county being lost in it's own identity and uncertainty, painted by Vietnam and African-American riots in the cities as well as equal rights struggles and 3 assassinations.
There were other shows as well, Then Came Bronson, which I particularly liked, much like Route 66 except that it was one man on a motorcycle whose brother was murdered and he set across the country to try to figure out what was going on.
The Bronson show also filmed throughout the US, something that would be prohibitively impossible to do now, given the cost of transporting cast and crew to distant locations from LA or NYC.
All in all, these shows were "about something", and was reflective of that generation I grew up in, restless, distrustful of anyone over 30, dreams of great changes that never came about. The truth of it was, not an image of hippies, Woodstock and campaigning for Bobby Kennedy like I did. Rather the majority were relatively conservative but adapted in a weird way, the questioning of values and morals of hippies and turned it into "it's all about me".
There was something else about these shows, something that in hindsight, was quite amazing. For one thing they had one or two writers with outside writers getting assignments for one or more episodes.
That's changed dramatically and, in a world of Millennials, a generation who looks back 2 years at the most, the 60's dramas and everything before or after is simply boring, so "analog". According to the LA Times, they see movies as fashion, which includes iPhones, spike heels and video games.
Forseries writers, it changed dramatically.
(Thurs: The producers, executive producers, associate producers and God knows who else producers!)