Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Anticlimax: Greatest TV Themes of All Time #s 1-5 (!!!)

I am combing my brain trying to think of a way to make this worth the exercise of both doing and reading it, but I am forced to admit at this point that that likely cannot be achieved.

5. Hogan's Heroes

For the drumroll alone. Reminiscent to me also of the opening theme to Closely Watched Trains. Both have a similarly punchy mock-martial style. Obviously his program was ridiculous on numerous levels, but it did have a kind of raucous quality about it that I like, and that I don't encounter much in my own life. It is not so much that I am (other people are) deadly serious, but I (they) seem to have become deadly humorless. Real time instances of any kind of spontaneous or irreverent mirth are few and you know the rest...

4. The Munsters

I never cared for the show, the reruns of which old Philadelphians will remember to have aired on the now defunct WKBS-TV Channel 48 for many years. I associate this song with the quiet and retired life of my childhood, old people, the momentary illusion of mischief or the promise of some kind of youthful assembly or party, goldfish crackers, glasses of ginger ale, and a fleeting sense of freedom and relief from the peculiar oppressions which I have always felt to dog my life.

Al Lewis, who played Grandpa, lived in Maine for some part of his retirement, which coincided with the years I lived there in high school. He was a devoted fan of high school basketball and was often spotted at big games all over the state, though as my team was terrible and did not play in any of these, I never ran into him personally. I believe he may also have held some important official position, such as grand poobah of referees or some such thing, though my memory as regards this is hazy, and I cannot find any confirmation of this on the internet, which with regard to his involvement in youth basketball only mentions that he was a "scout". Though seeing as there is not really anyone to scout in Maine, I am not sure what kind of scouting he could possibly have been doing.

3. The Mary Tyler Moore Show

I was too young to develop the emotional attachment to this much-beloved show that the late Silent and early Baby Boomer generational cohorts did, but the song makes one remember those 70s as an almost heady time. Its anxieties were not our anxieties, and indeed the problems which dominated those years seem in hindsight either so trivial or so easily resolved that we look back at things like the comparative economic security, the ease of obtaining health insurance, the cheapness of real estate, the more carefree attitudes to eating and drinking, with more longing than perhaps they merit. It's still a great song though.

2. I Dream of Jeannie

A great number. I have added words to it to sing to all of my children and bounce them around after I've changed one of their filthy diapers and made them smell like they're supposed to smell again, which is close to what Barbara Eden no doubt smelled like when she came out of the bottle. If there is a TV hall of fame, Barbara Eden should be a first ballot inductee. There were multiple 1960s, the serious civil rights/Vietnam 1960s, the indulgent Woodstock/LSD 1960s, etc, but how about the insipid content but with really gorgeous babes 1960s? I find I'm starting to like that 1960s a lot lately.

1. All in the Family

It was not a clear-cut number 1, but the sentiments in the lyrics are timeless all around. I almost identify with them myself now. I have always found it interesting that Carroll O'Connor was only 46 when the show started, and, I am pretty certain, was supposed to be around that age in it. I am 42 and I still often feel like I am not fully accepted as a real adult by most people around me, and that my life could still take some unforeseen positive and rewarding direction that I just have not become aware of yet (unlikely). The program worked of course because he was not atypical of his generation. People who were 45 and 50 were 'older' than people are now at that age, and of course their station in life, even if it were a modest one, was also well established and conveyed meaning, which also seems a rarer occurrence nowadays. I feel (yes, I am emoting here) like people my age have little solid ground on which to relate to anyone else. Everything is discounted except for professional station, which a good many people do not have, or do not have in anything like the degree required. At least I feel that way myself.

Carroll O'Connor was almost a dead ringer for my father-in-law. The latter gentleman had many similarities of habit at least to his television counterpart, though he was staunchly liberal in his politics, far more than almost anybody I know in my own generation who is possessed of any sense where such matters are concerned.

The last video is a bonus track. Remember a few months back when I determined that 1964 had been a really good year for attractive women? I've been mining the archives of Youtube to find some further proofs for this position (I confess I've been contemplating a Dianne Lennon versus Marianne Faithfull 1964 smackdown post in which I argue, against overwhelming sentiment, the case of Dianne, which I believe to be a strong one; I fear I won't be able to carry it off in such a way as will allow those confused in the business to see the light however). As a kid and even a teenager I never thought Elizabeth Montgomery to be especially sexy--she always came across as a kind of generic 30ish mom/wife who was like to nag you to death; but boy does she look good to me now. As well as very: 1964, which was, as we have established earlier, a great year in the annals of feminine beauty.

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