Saturday Night Television 1979

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One thing that some people might find interesting about me is that I’m absolutely obsessed with the television shows of my youth.  At night, while I’m working on my book or working on our website, I get on YouTube and find old episodes of some of my favorite shows.  Tonight, while watching an episode of Moonlighting, I was thinking about how much television has changed since the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and how, in a way, reality television has killed the excitement of TV.  Don’t get me wrong, I love reality TV, but it’s just not the same as the escapism of those shows I used to wait all week to watch back in the day.

As an only child, weekends meant spending Saturday nights with my mom.  Early in the evening we would make a Tombstone pizza and eat it at the dining room table with candles lit and Bob Dylan blaring from the speakers in the other room.  After dinner, my mom would make an entire concession stand on the island in our kitchen.  First, she’d make popcorn on the stove(remember that?) melting butter and adding salt as she went.  When she was done, she would put the popcorn in brown, paper lunch bags and place them on the island.  Then she’d crush ice in the blender(long before we had crushed ice in our refrigerator doors) and put the ice next to cans of Coke on the island, complete with plastic cups.  Then she’d bring out those big candy bars and put them in front of the popcorn.  After all of that was done, she would make little price tags for everything and then give me money to make my purchases for the evening.  I can remember both of us laughing so hard when I would run out of money and she would make a joke about having to work for my candy.

Saturday nights meant several TV shows.  Love Boat, Fantasy Island and Charlie’s Angels.  When all of those were over we’d watch The Newlywed Game before going to sleep listening to old time radio shows.

Friday nights were similar, except the shows were Moonlighting and The Equalizer and later in the night, Sammy Terry came on Channel 4 and showed scary movies.  And long before those days, we watched Laverne and Shirley and Welcome Back Kotter. God, I miss those shows.

It seemed like I lived through television those days.  Later in high school, I became obsessed with Roseanne and through the years watched almost every episode ever filmed.

Tonight, I was thinking about how much I still love watching TV, but my shows are more raw and brutal, like The Blacklist or The Following, Dance Moms and American Horror Story.  Back in the day, I loved escaping regular life through Love Boat and Fantasy Island.  And what happened to Hart to Hart?  But we don’t have those kinds of shows anymore.  And the movies are gone too! I miss the days of 9 to 5, Romancing the Stone and Ruthless People.

I guess in a way, I’ve always loved to escape.  It’s why I’ve always been obsessed with television, movies and books and probably why I’m a writer today.  I think what makes watching those shows so great today is remember watching them in the past.  I don’t have television nights like that anymore and my mom is no longer alive.  But the memories are still alive and I think that she would like that while I stay up late at night, writing at the computer, my ears are filled with Julie and Doc and Isaac talking through my headphones and the Love Boat theme playing in my mind.

For now,

Peter

*What are your old favorite shows? Leave it in the comment section below!

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And make sure to check out my book The Before Now and After Then

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3 comments

  1. After rattling off my list, it had occurred to me that I enjoyed escape as well. They just don’t make TV shows like they used to.

    simon and Simon
    Scarecrow and Mrs King
    magnum PI
    Baywatch
    Full house
    Perfect strangers
    The Cosby show
    M*A*S*H
    Alf
    The golden girls
    Empty nest
    Gimme a break
    227
    Happy days
    Designing women
    Webster
    Newhart
    Head of the class
    Mr belvedere
    The wonder years
    Silver spoons
    A different world
    Dukes of hazzard
    Facts of life
    Family ties
    Growing pains
    Roseanne
    Three’s company
    Night court
    Diff’rent strokes
    Doogie howser md
    Blossom
    Kids in the hall
    Phenom
    The Edison Twins

  2. I remember the very first season of SNL – in my opinion no cast has ever come close to recreating that magic. I also remember the Midnight Special. And Peter I agree with you about how television has changed, and not always for the better.

  3. Oh yeah, back in our day television was something to wait for, anticipate, and hope for a good re-run. Now everything is so available on You Tube. I remember sitting there on Sunday nights watching MTV’s 120 minutes with my hand on the VCR remote in the hopes that a Cure video or something else cool would come on so I record it. In earlier years, my Fridays were marked with Dukes of Hazzard, Dallas, then Falcon Crest and we got our weekly pop to drink. That was way back, but for many years the days of the week were all about what was on TV that night.

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