01 July, 2010

TV that shaped my life

You might have noticed that I'm a leetle obsessed with movies. I'm also pretty much as obsessed with tv shows. This leaves my previous lifelong obsession of book-collecting on the shelf for the time being (ha, see what I did there?), but it's ok; they're still there looking pretty, and anyway, movies are cheaper. And tv is even cheaper. And this is an important thing in my world at the moment, cos it's slow season and Mr Ruby Slippers just pointed out that I he forgot to pay ask me to pay rent at the end of May, so I just got walloped with double rent this month. Oh, the fun.

I reckon tv shows kind of shaped my life. I'm an incredibly nostalgic person; one whiff of the theme to The Littlest Hobo and I'm pretty much finished. That show made me cry at the end of every episode, ergo I cry now when I hear the theme song, even though it's been at least twenty years since I last saw it.
Here are the end credits, because this is where I was usually crying my eyes out. He came along like Mary Poppins, helped everyone, and then left. :-(

However, despite the epic tears, I don't really remember that show very well. I didn't, for instance, record it every week and then watch every episode every single day when I came home from school, to the point where I could (and still can) recite entire episodes. The 6-year-old brain is a sponge. That honour was reserved for the best cartoon of all time:

Hell to the yes. There will never be a better cartoon than Gummi Bears; not Ducktales, Thundercats, My Little Pony, Bionic Six or even Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, all of which I used to watch and love. My childhood kicked ass. We seriously had the best cartoons in the 80s.

Speaking of the 80s, we also had this guy, the most ingenious gadget-maker and bomb-dismantler of all time. Oh yes, say hello to the mullet-sporting (but we won't hold that against him), army knife-carrying pacifist.

Famous lines from pretty much every episode: "What are you doing?" "Getting us out of here."

I think I had a crush on this guy even when I was five years old. I don't remember what night it aired (Friday, maybe?) but the whole family would gather round and watch MacGyver create some crazy thingymajig to get the baddies/stop the baddies/escape from the baddies. I could watch these credits over and over and over; they totally kick ass.

There was also a spate of sometimes funny, sometimes sappy family sitcoms. Who remembers Growing Pains, Family Ties, Full House and Who's the Boss? Always with an issue to be solved, always with a little moral at the end. And the violins start playing. And Dad has some moving, poignant lines. Awww.

Ah, yes, Kirk Cameron when he was young and cute, and not a crazy ranting lunatic trying to tell the world that atheists use big words to confuse you into believing in evolution.

Aw. look at little Alyssa Milano! And Katherine Helmond. I loved her.

OMG, Mary-Kate or Ashley! And now they run a trillion dollar empire. And damn, John Stamos was kind of cute. Pity about the hair, though.

I loved this family! And who doesn't enjoy Michael J. Fox? He was awesome in this.

In the early 90s I was a tween and young teenager, so I branched out from the family viewing and started watching my own stuff. Grownup stuff! Santa Barbara and Loving were my two earliest soap encounters. I have to give props to my parents for not forbidding me from watching this stuff when I was all of eleven years old. They made sure that I knew that what I saw on tv was *not* real, and that people didn't act like that in real life, and left me to it. I just enjoyed the scandals and family feuds and romances and kidnappings and paternity suits. If I wanted to see real life I could watch the people on the bus home from school. Yawn.

Cruz and Eden, my favourite couple of all time. She was a spoiled little rich girl, and he was a Latino policeman from the wrong side of the tracks. Soapie perfection. By the time I stopped watching Santa Barbara they still hadn't got married! Sigh.

Recently I've been getting a kick out of Beverly Hills 90210. Not the shitty remake, the real one with dreamy Brandon, rebel Dylan, nice girl Brenda (haha), spoilt Kelly and bimbo Donna. In the 90s it was really daring with it themes of sex, drugs, alcoholism. Now it's more "Oh look, an issue with a moral". Kind of lame, but still something awesome about it.

Whoa, look at those high-cut bikinis! Scary.

The mid-nineties was a great time for tv. Sitcoms were moving on from being about families to being about single people, so there was a nice mix of the two on the air at the same time. Two of my favourite sitcoms of all time came from this period. Guess what they are.

Still guessing?

Ok. Here you go:



The Nanny! This show is still hilarious. And incidentally, did you know that the youngest girl (the cute one in the black and white checkered dress) is the slutty girl from Californication who punches and fucks David Duchovny and then steals his book? Blows my mind every time.

Special shout-outs to Frasier, Will & Grace, 3rd Rock from the Sun and Cybill for being awesome 90s comedies. I think I watched pretty much every sitcom that was on tv at the time, but those stand out for me.

Still on the 90s, but only discovered later by me, a show that became an obession:

Hooo boy. If Joe Lando was any hotter my tv would have melted. I did love the quaintness of the show, and their old-fashioned lifestyle and comments on "new-fangled" inventions like trains, but I think we all watched it because we wanted to be Dr Quinn. Not to be all pioneering and fighting for feminism and saving lives; no, we just wanted to be kissed by Sully. Swoon. If he walked into my room I'd do him right now. He's on my list. Yes, THAT List.

Another show I seem to have got into years after everyone else, but that became an obsession anyway:

In fact, this was completely stupid (not the show, just my timing) because I got into the show on its 9th and final season. Yeah, talk about being late to the party. In X-Files terms I arrived at the party after everyone had pretty much packed up and left. That didn't stop me, though, and thanks to BFF Ruby Slippers  I had a supply of some earlier seasons and recommendations of which others to rent. Just like Dr Quinn, I quickly became obsessed with the relationship between Mulder and Scully. When they kissed (you could count the number of times on one hand, sadly) I got butterflies. The alien stuff was only secondary. Who cares that Cigarette Smoking Man is going to destroy the world with an alien colony? Mulder and Scully shared a meaningful glance!

PS - the recent film was SHITE. If you saw it, don't judge The X-Files on it.

PPS - The X-Files has some of the best dialogue ever. In fact, the only dialogue that can match it comes from  this next show, which I adore:

Joss Whedon is a genius. That is all. But Buffy, in my opinion, is his best creation to date. I thrive on well-written dialogue, humour in the face of despair, fearless plots and the fact that you don't always KNOW who is going to win. If someone important needs to die for the sake of the plot, Joss Whedon will let it happen. And that, my friends, is tension. Watch it. Seriously. This means you, sister Ruby Slippers. If only she read my blog :-)

I'm going to do the rest in a Part II, because seriously, the 2000s deserves an entire blog post of its own. That's how obsessed I am with the tv it produced. So, so good.


  1. I loved "The Nanny", too! But it is impossible that Gracie is screwing David Duchovny (and not only because he is MINE), because even though that show was on tv many years ago, she is just a little girl. The boy (Bryson? did I just make that up?) still wears the same blazer and everything.

    When I was a kid we used to cluster around the tv on Friday nights and worship "Miami Vice". Crockett and Tubbs were the shizzle.

  2. I think we must be the same age. Gummi Bears has the best theme song ever, hands down. Oh wait, except maybe for Tailspin. Shoot, now I'm gonna have to spend a lot of time on Youtube. Darn.

    Oh and I used to watch MacGyver and Knight Ryder every day after school with my brother. I had crushes on George and Kitt.


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