|Posted by richb on May 28, 2012 at 11:00 AM|
Last week I talked about five things I kind of missed bybeing an 80’s kid. Today I wanted to touch on a few things I was lucky enoughto experience.
I know it's hard to believe, but there was a time when MTVactually showed music videos! All day! I used to sit there for hours watching,and they even had "v-j's" to introduce the songs. My favorite wasMartha Quinn, man did I like her. I know when they dumped that format it wasstill decent; they had Remote Control and Beavis and Buthead among other things.Still, I miss the good old days. Then VH1 came along and went the same route.What on Earth do these networks show now? I can’t remember the last time Iturned either on.
#4. Birth of Syndicated Cartoons
Until the mid-80's programmers didn't believe that newcartoons would work during the week, so kids were stuck with reruns of Saturdaymorning stuff. That was until the mid-80's when a little show premiered calledHe-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Not only was this watched, it was amega-hit. Yes, I watched it every day for a while twice a day if memory serves.The success led to other first run cartoons during the week including G.J.Joe,Transformers, She-Ra, Thundercats, DuckTales, and later on Teenage Mutant NinjaTurtles, Batman: The Animated Series and the X-Men cartoon I never watched. ButHe-Man was the first, and I enjoyed every second of it. Yes some people saythese shows were just thirty minute commercials for toys, but I neverunderstood the problem with that. Don't kids play with toys? Are there peoplewho really thought kids had no interest in the toy area of stores until theseshows came along? And even if it’s true, it's still the parents responsibilityto decide what they are going to purchase, isn't it? These shows were awesome,how awesome? Well, there’s a reason why Hollywood keeps trying to revive themas movies. Transfoerms and G.I.Joe sucked, maybe a Master of the Universe moviewill work (oh wait, they did that in the 80’s… The cartoons were awesome, 'nuff said.
I don’t mean Family Channel; I am talking about the good olddays of network television. It’s hard to believe but around 1983 many expertsthought sitcoms were dead. Nah, that would take another thirty years or so.That’s because of a little show called The Cosby Show which revived the formatand got people excited about sitcoms again. What people may not realize, andthe thing I really miss, is the family feel that the three networks had. Thiswas especially true of NBC but ABC didn’t do so bad (it’s hard to believe, butCBS was hardly a blip on the radar in my day). What I mean by family is that people would wacth the show together and it felt like the shows on thenetworks were all part of a larger family that you were lucky enough to be asmall part. It’s kind of like TGWTG is today. For example, during the 80’s one of NBC’sslogans was “Come Home to NBC”, because the idea was you’d come home to yourfamily at the end of a long day and that, in a way, included the network. You reallycared about the shows and watching them was a natural part of your routine. In 1985 there was a prime time special on NBC called “Let’All Be There” where the casts of every show on the network gathered to promotethe upcoming season. I would be lying if I said I remembered that special realwell, but I do remember that special connection you had in those days. It’s whywhen shows like Happy Days or MASH went off the air, it was an event. It was like losing a cherished friend orfamily member! In today’s fast paced world of 150 channels, DVR’s, inane realityshows, and of course the internet people just don’t form those kinds of bondswith sitcoms and dramas. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things Ilisted, I just miss that era when watching television as a family was a realexperience and something to be treasured and enjoyed. A lot of young people wonder why people in the70’s, 80’s, and 90’s get so nostalgic about those days. Well, I just explained one reasonwhy in a nutshell.
#2.Bob Hope Specials
It's hard to believe, but there was a time when celebritieswould have specials. And I don't mean just at Christmas, all year round! Thesewere like little variety shows with sketches and songs, and celebrities. Theyhad specials for every holiday not just Christmas. Then they had specials whichhad nothing to do with holidays, they were just meant for fun. Carol Burnetthad several like one with Robin Williams, and others with her good friend JulieAndrews. Dick Clark produced and starred in many specials. There was Circusof the Stars which I frankly didn't like, birthday and anniversary shows. Disney was always cranking specials out which were loads of fun. John Denver and The Muppets even dida Colorado holiday special (which for years I confused with the Christmasone--that still pisses me off!!) which had them all going to the great Rockiesfor a getaway and was quite boring to be honest with you. But these specialswere great; the talent behind them took time to write these elaborate showswhich unfortunately faded along with the Variety era.
My favorites were the Bob Hope specials. Some people knowBob Hope from his silly movies and others from his amazing work with the USO. Iknow him from his specials (and that one time I saw him live). I loved these,and during the 80's he would do four a five a year. They had music numbers andsketches and Bob would banter with his guests. Bob Hope was the perfect entertainer;he could entertain someone even if they were in a coma. I used to love how hewould allow his guests to get the punch lines, even at his own expense. That isreal class. The best part of these shows was his monologues. 8-10 minutesmaking fun of everything from politics to celebrities. It’s hard to say who isbetter, Johnny Carson or Bob Hope. While Carson was the far better interviewer,Hope’s monologues and sketches were stronger than Carson’s. Well, they’re bothlegends. Thank goodness my father recorded many of these specials so I canstill watch them. Bob Hope was a true legend, and I feel fortunate I got to seesome of his brilliant work firsthand. For some reason these kind of shows just aren't made anymore. In fact one of the reason I liked the Betty White 80thBirthday Special a few months ago was because stuff like that just isn't seenanymore these days, which is a shame.
Ah, old school Nickelodeon. When it was a really greatnetwork. I was so lame I actually mailed away for a printed schedule. Don't worry,I don't understand why either. Let's see, Mr.Wizards' World, Double Dare….yeah,we all remember those. Who remembers the more obscure stuff like Danger Mouse(a cartoon about a British mouse who solved crimes…yes, really), Today'sSpecial (look it up, I loved this show!), Pinwheel (this scared me, it used tobe one for six hours straight, years later I realized it was just re-runs theyshowed all afternoon), Out of Control (a quirky show which gave Dave Coulier hisstart. It was a mock news program/sketch show and was really funny), and a show called Standby..Lights, Camera, Action which had LeonardNimoy going behind the scenes of hit movies at the time. Ah, good times.
My favorite is the one I left out. Of course we had You Can't Do That on Television!If there one review nostalgia critic did that I 100% disagreed with, it’swhat he said about that show. It was a fantastic show, but I think you had tobe there. Yes, the jokes were corny but even they knew that. That was part ofthe fun. The kids had fun chemistry, most of the time, and it was greatwatching them interact. The pace of the show was so quick that even if therewas a lame sketch, don’t worry another one will be coming in about fiveseconds. Basically Laugh-In for kids, the show even did their version of thewall on that show only instead of a wall they used lockers. They had water andgreen slime fall if you said the right words, and we lived for those moments. Ialways loved how Nickelodeon kept the green slime concept after they faded the showout. I think that show may have done more to shape Nickelodeon than any other(well, not counting that guy who lives in a pineapple under the sea). I won’t go into any more detail because myfaithful colleague pbmiranda is planning a much more detailed article on thesegreat shows which I look forward to reading. I will say that aside from He-Manno other show reminds me of my childhood like You Can’t. I loved it. Now to befair, unlike MTV I think Nick is still a decent network and has some goodstuff. But man, those classic days were great and still bring a nostalgic tear to myeye.
One to Grow On!
Ok, there is one other thing I had to mention. PSA's! The 70's Saturday Mornings had Schoolhouse Rock (I'm a bill, an ordinary bill....), the 80'shad One to Grow One. I LOVED THESE! Basically the concept was we would see a situation involving kids, for example complaining about having homework, and suddenly the scene would cut out to a celebrity explaining whatever the moral was. Then the shot would cut back into the story, where we would see a happy resolution to the conflict. Not only were these fun and educational, they were who's a who of who was on NBC at that time! Name a star on NBC in the 80's, from Michael J.Fox to Soleil Moon Frye, and they probably did at least one of these. Even Mr.T! This ties into that "family" thing I brought up earlier. These were so much fun and if you never heard them, YouTube has plenty to check out. It would not have been Saturday morning without them. Schoolhouse Rock was fun, we had psa's at the end of all our cartoons at the time (And knowing is half the battle!) and the "time for timer" ads which never leave my head were cute, but One to Grow On was my favorite. Hey, they released a dvd for Schoolhouse Rock, maybe someday....nah, thank goodness for YouTube. Before I go, since I already brought up the other cliche'd PSA slogan I had to mention this one....
THE MORE YOU KNOW (star,,,,fade out)
There you have it, things I am happy to have experienced first hand. Man do feel nostalgic all of sudden!
Categories: 80's and 90's central