By Popular (Kevin’s) Request… A Re-Post!

Since Kevin was kind enough to request a re-post of an old blog entry from Blogjammin’, I was kind enough to dig it up for your consumption.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy this blast from the past (in more ways than one)… ahh Blogjammin’, we hardly knew ye. 

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Yesterday a series of events (that of course started on Fark.com) led me to revisit my childhood… and by my childhood I mean the most important part of it, network television. As a kid I watched a LOT of tv, probably even more than the average 80’s kid, which may mean that I actually had a television attached to my face at all times in some sort of Orwellian experiment in behavior modification. As a result of this addiction to quality programming I still have countless hours of laugh-tracks, hijinks and wacky neighbors roaming the dark corners of my mind, occasionally popping up for a visit and causing me to think, “where in the hell did that come from?” or to ask myself exactly how it was that Gunnery Sgt. Alva “Gunny” Bricker managed to sneak into my dreams and seduce me with a flip of her hair.

As I pondered such questions I managed to open a flood gate that makes Hurricane Katrina look like one of those clips from America’s Funniest Home Videos where the weiner dog runs back and forth between the sprinklers, repeatedly trying to get a drink of water as the family looks on in amusement. As the tidal wave roared, one thing became painfully obvious… I was going to have TV theme songs from my youth stuck in my head for the rest of the day. To most people, this may be akin to some type of torture, but for me it’s just a pleasant way to spend the afternoon (who doesn’t enjoy humming the theme to “Grand” for half an hour?). And, always being the “lemons into lemonade” type, I decided to turn this affliction into a blog entry detailing my top ten theme songs of my childhood.

Continue reading ‘By Popular (Kevin’s) Request… A Re-Post!’

The Great Sass Renaissance

When I was a kid, the house was a bit crowded.  My grandmother and grandfather moved to Kentucky sometime in the 70’s, and after his passing in 1979 my aunt decided to stay on, keeping my grandmother company.  After my parents divorced, my mother and I moved in, a temporary solution that spanned several years… defining who I am as a person.  It actually worked out very well, in a sit-com kind of way.  You had the “set in her ways” matriarch of the family (my grandmother), the studios, yet sometimes wacky one (my aunt), the soul of the family unit (my mother) and the child star destined for rehab (me… without the rehab).  We even had a pair of wacky neighbors… but that’s best saved for a later post.

Our home was unusual, but it never felt that way.  It was sort of a “Waltons meets Golden Girls” atmosphere, one the shaped my opinions of unusual family units and the comedy stylings of Bea Arthur for years to come.  See, in the early days of our house, there was only one television.  Being that this set made its home in the living room (directly in front of Granny’s outpost), we typically found ourselves watching whatever it was that Granny deemed necessary… after all, it was her house.  So, while the other kids were watching baseball games and Rambo movies, I was watching Dallas and Dynasty.  Frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s not as if I was forbidden from watching such things… it’s just that they were only allowed air time if it didn’t interfere with Granny’s “stories,” or a very special episode of Gimmie A Break.  There weren’t many kids in my neighborhood, so I spent hours in front of the television… my peers were Marla Gibbs, Carol Burnett and (always, no matter how dreadful his current show may be) Sherman Helmsley.  I studied their timing, their delivery and their posture in the same way that a film student studies Truffaut, I really wanted to be funny.

Time passed on, and I finally made my way to school.  I was immediately pegged as “the funny guy” by the people around me… which led to an even more passionate exploration into the world of situation comedy.  Looking back, it was pretty ridiculous.  Keep in mind, I watched a lot of television… more than any sane person ever should, and this included the nightly news.  So, if you can picture a very tiny, red haired kid doing what amounts to elementary school level stand up comedy, complete with jokes about Reagan’s foreign policy and the Geneva Convention, you see what I mean.  I’m not even kidding, I really did that, I didn’t get my own jokes and neither did my classmates, but when I started to bomb I could do a killer Jackee’ impression.

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Looking back on all of that, I guess what I find most interesting is the total lack of a racial divide on 80’s network television.  It never occurred to me to think of 227 or The Cosby Show as “black shows” or Golden Girls and Family Ties as “white shows.”  For all of the trouble, economic hardship and various other woes of the 80’s, I guess in many ways it really was a simpler time.  Everyone was represented on television, and the shows (while probably not so great looking back) were top notch.  An incredible feeding ground for an eager public.

I guess it was just the right series of shows at the right time, but television just seemed to mean more back then.  It wasn’t something you did when there was nothing else to do, it WAS something to do.  If you found yourself out past a certain hour on a certain day, you’d race home to catch even a few minutes of your favorite show.  When you went on vacation, you crammed as much actual vacationing into the daytime hours as possible, as it was unthinkable to actually miss an episode of Night Court.  There we’d sit on our annual outings to Myrtle Beach, SC, the ocean at the back door and Cheers on the television.  After all, the ocean would be there tomorrow, but George Wendt’s snappy one-liners were here today.

Looking back, I can see why we watched these shows.  I never realized it at the time, but they all had a fairly common (and obvious) theme… they all featured strong female characters in unusual living situations.  To me it was just funny, but in the eyes of my family it was funny that they could relate to.  Our life really was a sit-com, we just didn’t know it.  It just goes to show innocent we really are in our youth.  We’re just watching tv, we don’t realize that we’re making a statement by doing so.  Funny is funny, and folks, Thelma Harper was funny.

It actually saddens me to look at television these days.  Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see the lasting effect connecting with a new generation.  Sure, there are kids watching television as we speak, but what are they watching?  Even the best shows on tv are targeted so squarely at any other audience that the feeling of anticipation must be all but lost.  Today’s kids are watching endless streams of trash-reality television, spoiled teenagers on MTV and god knows what on the internet.  Now, I’m not going on a Brent Bozell rant, here… I have no problem with these shows being on the air (other than the fact that nearly all of them are dreadful).  I just feel for the kids that will never get to roll with laughter as Dorothy Zbornach fires into a “No, Rose…” one-liner, who will never appreciate seeing Norm enter the bar and will never be overcome with sass as Marsha Warfield launches into a rant at a perp awaiting trial in Judge Harry T. Stone’s courtroom.

So, I give you this as a parting thought…

Parents, if you love your children, insist that they balance their television time with a healthy dose of Nick & Nite or TV Land, they’ll thank you later.  Besides, how many ox testicles can you really watch one man eat?

Woo Hoo!

Welcome to an exciting new sister-site to Cory-Graham.com!

Herein ye shall find pointless ramblings about the ins and outs, loves, hates and innermost desires of a small boy growing up in the greatest decade of them all… the 1980’s.

Stay tuned!