Throughout my childhood, there was always a small television sitting between the kitchen and the dining room. Although my mom often spoke of having a “nice, quiet meal”, it always played over supper (or “dinner” for the more civilized).
Supper was always right around 5:30 pm, just after Dad walked through the door. Some of my favorite shows were on in that time slot. Looking back, I really don’t think it would have mattered what particular show was on; sitting around the table and laughing with the family are memories that I will have forever.
Before we begin, keep in mind that I grew up in rural New Brunswick. We had what people now refer to as “country cable”. Four channels: WAGM (local CBS) being beamed in from Maine, ATV (maritime CTV), CBC, and PBS. I never saw an episode of Punky Brewster or Beverly Hills 90210 which was, at the time, quite a damper on the social life.
Also keep in mind that 5:30 pm is not prime time and I am only 28 years old so these shows were all re-runs by the time I was seeing them.
I’m reaching way back for this one. I have hazy memories of people dressed in costumes, rifling through their purses for some obscure object that was asked for. I know the premise of the show and remember liking it (but then, I have always loved game shows) but I was really young. I wish someone would resurrect it because I think the concept of it is quite entertaining.
Who among us does not love The Muppets? This was an early one too but I do remember some things: real people performing with The Muppets; laughing hysterically at Statler and Waldorf (although I think I was laughing more at my dad cracking up); not liking Miss Piggy because she just wouldn’t leave Kermit along (despite the fact that she was one of the only female characters); and loving the Swedish Chef. For me The Muppets represent childhood, pure innocence, unequaled creativity, and just plain old-fashioned good comedy. Jim Henson was brilliant. My children might not know the show but they will know The Muppets.
Three’s Company. I remember all combinations of roommates and both landlords (because these were reruns, remember). I remember my sister and I, years later, impersonating Mr. Furley’s “Smoooooth” after shooting some sort of hard liquor. There is no doubt that much of the comedy in this show went over my head. There is also no doubt that that fact was to my parents’ liking. At my age, the sexual jokes took a back seat to Mr. Furley’s and Jack’s physical comedy.
Ahh … The Golden Girls. Did you know Estelle Getty, who played Sophia (left), was actually the youngest of the four actors? It’s true! Rose’s stories about Saint Olaf (sp?), Sophia’s stories about Italy, Dorothy’s what-seemed-like-constant stern face, and Blanche’s stories of trapezes and eye-opening sluttiness. Oh, and Dorothy’s ex… that dead-beat, Stan! As a kid, I was a little puzzled at those big, flowing shirts that they always seemed to wear. Was that the style for adults in the mid-eighties to early nineties?
If mom and dad were unconcerned about sexual innuendo on Three’s Company, they more than made up for it with The Golden Girls. My sister and I were not quite teenagers and very impressionable when this came on. In truth we knew way more than mom and dad wanted to admit. Mom would gasp at some of the lines and innuendo and then glance sheepishly at us, trying to decide if we understood it or not. Sometimes she would laugh but try to stifle it, likely so we wouldn’t ask why she was laughing. I remember more than one night when mom got disgusted at Blanche’s perversion, shut the television off, and claimed that we were never watching tv during supper again.
Last but not least was The Fresh Prince of Belair. If you knew him, you wouldn’t expect my father to like this show but he laughed and laughed. Even today, dad will put on a rerun or spew out a quote and take us all off guard. It was only a matter of time before the talent and beauty that is Will Smith was given an opportunity to shine and I think we should all be grateful that it was this show. But then, all of the actors fit their characters perfectly. It was clever and fresh. We couldn’t relate to the characters because we were neither Belair residents or poor kids from the city but the situations were so hilarious, we had to feel for them. It seemed they would never run out of situations to put Will in.
It has to be the original Vivian (pictured) though… has to be.
Much to Brian’s chagrine, I sometimes feel the pull of nostalgia when I come across these shows in the satellite guide. He really is a good sport about it … but draws the line at The Golden Girls.
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