Saturday, February 14, 2009

TV Shows That Hold Up

Mad Men reading.




Been watching some old TV shows over the last week. The Twilight Zone doesn't hold up too well for me. They're always going for the same ending-that the character is stuck somewhere. Too much retribution and punishment involved. And it's usually a man. Clearly women were the lesser sex.
Also WKRP seems to rely on drug references and Jennifer's dubious sex appeal to get through most episodes. Was her face real flesh?
MASH is awfully didactic-even if I did agree with it at the time.
NEWHART was not half the show as THE BOB NEWHART SHOW. He needed a sparkplug like Suzanne Pleshette. What TV shows from the past hold up the best for you? I'm voting for TAXI, CHEERS, MTM, THE WALTONS and FAMILY. How about you? (And no making fun of THE WALTONS)

34 comments:

r2 said...

FRIENDS, SEINFIELD and BUFFY still hold up for me. I was amazed a couple of years ago when I got the MIAMI VICE boxed set how much it didn't hold up. In fact, I can barely watch them now. Even though it was way before my time, BURNS & ALLEN held up for me when I would watch the midnight reruns in college and whenever I see one today.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Cheers, Friends, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Bob Newhart Show all still work for me, as far as sitcoms go. And I can watch The West Wing and Deadwood again and again without feeling that they are in any way old.

But let's talk about crime dramas. Among those that still work for me are: Mannix (at least year two, after the P.I. went out on his own), The Rockford Files, Mission: Impossible, and Columbo. On the other hand, I tried watching Cannon again, and I could hardly wait until the first disc was done. Banacek, too, is pretty dated, with its sexist references. However, I still appreciate that series' incredible puzzles.

Cheers,
Jeff

pattinase (abbott) said...

Love THE ROCKFORD FILES. It could have been made last week. I am anxious to see if MANNIX holds up at all. COLUMBO-some are outstanding, others not so much. The writing was so integral. And if they went for a timely plot, well, that's death, isn't it? SEINFELD. I have seen every episode so many times, I can't tell. Same with FRIENDS. BUFFY, I don't quite get. Too teenagey for my aged self.

Gordon Harries said...

There's a british espionage show from the seventies called 'The Sandbaggers'.

the production values have dated horribly, but the content is great.

P.S Patti- Thanks so much for the post earlier this week, by the way.

Randy Johnson said...

Taxi, Cheers, and MTM work for me as well. You cut me off at the knees with your last statement.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.(at least the first and fourth years, possibly the second. The third-OMG), The Rockford Files, and Harry O when you can find it.

Dana King said...

ALL IN THE FAMILY holds up well, if you listen to it for what it says about relationships and not just the Nixon-Vietnam references.

The original NEWHART show. CHEERS. TAXI. SEINFELD. Even the HONEYMOONERS. The shows that are about people first hold up well. People don't change all that much over time.

KIeran said...

Gee, whiz. That's tough. I remember how haunting THE PRISONER was when I was a kid. Nightmares about all-consuming sentry globes and the mind-twists of reason. Interested in how AMC is revamping THAT this year--they did so well with MAD MEN and BREAKING BAD. But for old school, somehow I never tire of watching ALL IN THE FAMILY re-runs. Maybe it's because my late grandfather loved that show much. It sort of reflected his hard, dingy scrabble to tenuous respectability up in the Bronx. Dub in Kerry accents, Shlitz beer in cans and I get an fluey ache in my shoulders. The only 3 things my late Pop would never miss. 7 o'clock mass, Cronkite for truth, and Archie Bunker for comic relief.

David Cranmer said...

Wanted: Dead or Alive, The Twilight Zone, MASH, Seinfeld, and Firefly to name a few.

James Reasoner said...

Have Gun Will Travel and Gunsmoke. And I'd never make fun of The Waltons. The first few seasons, at least, were really good.

Corey Wilde said...

I just finished the first season of Have Gun, Will Travel and I thought it held up very well. As a western, it was far more forward thinking than many others of that era.

Iren said...

Homicide Life on the Streets
Hill Street Blues
Ned and Stacy
Have Gun will Travel
Dr Katz
Kids in The Hall
Married with Children (at the end was very sharp social commentary)
Good Times
Dr. Who (some eras are good and some are well.... the 50s)

are all the ones that I have seen in the last couple years and enjoyed... I am looking forward to checking out a couple other shows, some of them from before my time, they include-
The Big Valley (I am currently really interested in the work of creator and write AI Bezzeridies)
Max Headroom
and
The Streets of San Francisco

pattinase (abbott) said...

Never heard of The Sandbaggers. We miss too many good British shows.
ALL IN THE FAMILY seems like a document to the times even on those terms. If someone wanted to know what the early seventies were like, that would be a good place to start so I still watch it now and then. I still see GUNSMOKE from time to time but HAVE GUN-is it on some channel? HOMICIDE-brilliant. I forgot that or it would have been on my list. And the first few years of HILL STREET.

Chuck said...

I guess it depends on how far you go back. I remember being captivated as a kid with the Flash Gordon serial and the clay people who materialized out of the cave walls and the evil Imperious Ming who ruled a city in the sky. Now when I watch it, the cardbooard spaceships being held up with strings and propelled by sputtering sparklers seem silly. However, I sure loved it at the time. Same with Sky King and Sargeant Preston of the Yukon on Saturday mornings.

And I remember rushing home from school to catch the Mickey Mouse Club (Annette was the BIG attraction)and a little later, American Bandstand.

Also, Saturday night on CBS was all Westerns - the Rifleman, Wanted Dead or Alive, Have Gun Will Travel and Gunsmoke with Doc, Festus and Miss Kitty.

I Love Lucy with Tennesse Ernie Ford. Enough said.

And there were also all the variety shows with Ed Sullivan, Uncle Milty, Perry Como, Sid Ceaser, Jackie Gleason. Ah, the good old days of live black and white TV.

I don't think my kids would appreciate these shows, but I watch them through a very nostalgic lens and still enjoy them.

James Reasoner said...

Patti,

You can watch full episodes of HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL and a bunch of other old shows on cbs.com.

Iren said...

By the way, I see most of these via DVD.... netflix is still the best $20 I spend each month, and then the local library has a good DVD collection, which includes a large TV section.

Charles Gramlich said...

Hum, cheers I can agree with. I never watched Taxi. Frazier is my favorite sit com, but I guess it's not that old. I'll still watch episodes of the Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza, and Gunsmoke.

I don't really watch reruns any more of WKRP, Beverly Hillbillies, or Gilligan's Island, or Gomer Pyle.

Of course, I still watch all reruns of STar Trek.

Charles Gramlich said...

BTW, congrats on the anthology.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, James. I'll watch one while I do the treadmill today. Great.
Frasier is still current for me. I watch it every week when I clean the kitchen on LIFETIME. The writing was so impressive.
Chuck-I remember a lot of those. I think LEAVE IT TO BEAVER holds up very well. The girls on Mickey Mouse Club always eclipsed the boys. BUt i loved Tim Considine who they used in Spin and Marty, I think.
STARTREK, TNG was one of the best shows ever. I always try to catch them although I've seen most of them too many times.

pattinase (abbott) said...

NETFLIX deserves to be one of the most successful enterprises of the last ten years. They operate flawlessly in our experience.

George said...

I agree with you on THE TWILIGHT ZONE; some of those episodes don't hold up because of the formula. I like Rod Serling's NIGHT GALLERY much more than TWZ. I can still watch any of the STAR TREK series with enjoyment. Many of the PERRY MASON episodes hold up. As does ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS.

Chris said...

TWIN PEAKS, because in so many ways, it's a series that exists out of time.

And congrats on the anthology!

pattinase (abbott) said...

THanks, Chris. I need to rent Twin Peaks and experience it again.

Jerry House said...

Due South

Jerry House said...

Also, the original Night Stalker

Kent Morgan said...

Northern Exposure tops my list. If it's on, I usually stop whatever I'm doing to watch. I'll also watch Cheers if Kristie Alley hasn't shown up to ruin it. Homicide Life on the Streets before all the cast changes also can catch my attention. Recently, I've been watching reruns of Third Watch. The other day someone mentioned watching The White Shadow, which is another one I would like to see again. As for crime shows, I have no problem watching some of the British shows such as Frost, Lynley, Morse, Rebus, Waking the Dead and Judge Deed again on DVD or reruns. But I can't watch Silent Witness again.

pattinase (abbott) said...

DUE SOUTH. Where is it? I only watched a few eps because we were away that year-but I loved it.
Northern Exposure had the best cast and writing ever. Never saw Silent Witness, why can't you watch it again, Kent? Or would it ruin it to say. I'll go look it up.

Iren said...

I have found that Twilight Zone is hit and miss for me, it was also that way when I first watched it as reruns on afternoon TV back in the 70s and 80s (I feel sorry for kids today who don't get this stuff after school anymore)... oh and several years back I was hipped to this gem http://theforbidden-zone.com/media/tzone.shtml which is Planet of the Apes cut to be a TW episode... it's very cool.

pattinase (abbott) said...

TTZ-I remember it as much better than it is. Certainly the acting is good, but the plots are too driven by the clever ending, which turns out to be-yes, you are stuck here due to your selfishness, or your ego or a choice you once made.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Patti, I still enjoy MASH for the sheer zaniness, though I agree it can be a little didactic, esp. Hawkeye. I'm enjoying reruns of FRASIER right now, and my husband and I are watching DALLAS on DVD. It's pretty dated and silly but we still get a kick out of it. J.R. is one of those characters you love to hate. :)

Linda

pattinase (abbott) said...

The early years of MASH turn out to be the most endurable. Before AA seized control of the show. At the time I heartily approved of it but now....
FRASIER endures because it's timeless. Oh, DALLAS. That sounds like fun.

mike doran said...

I guess it depends on what you mean by "holds up". Some old shows are best viewed as period pieces, like just about anything made during the Cold War years... which is virtually everything made up to about 1980. Personally, I find the earliest episodes of ALL IN THE FAMILY almost unwatchable: Archie is too much of a straw man. It was like they didn't think they were going to get past the first thirteen, so they had to cram everything in right then. As to M*A*S*H, while it's true that Alan Alda became a kind of left-wing Jack Webb,I give him credit for letting Hawkeye turn out to be spectacularly wrong sometimes. Also, Potter and Winchester were huge improvements over Blake and the Sultan of Strawmen, Frank Burns. As to crime shows: again, you have to put them in period, which I don't mind doing at all. Not just the subject matter, of course, but the look of the film itself, the slick studio look as opposed tto the hand-held Queasycam of today, which I think dates shows faster than fashions. I think the problem may be trying to get younger people to look at something made long before they were born; even people our own age seem to lack a sense of history - and this is hurting us in more ways than you might think.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Mike-Thanks for your insightful comments. I recently watched some early episodes of Peter Gunn, which held up because they used the era and genre so well. You are right about Archie. Edith seemed to get more mentally challenged over time. All of household teetered on the brink of stereotypes from time to time but not as badly as their next door neighbors or other era sitcoms.

Butiksdetektiv said...

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Cormac Brown said...

Come March, you'll be able to see one of the best sitcoms that you've never heard of, "Andy Richter Controls The Universe." Cue it up on your Netflix before everybody gets hip to it.

As far as the "Twilight Zone?" That was true of all TV shows of that era, women were strictly secondary and tertiary characters, unless they were on trial. Then they'd get more face time...unless they were Donna Reed/Gale Storm-types.