Waxing nostalgic on birthday, 50-year-old TV shows
Please excuse me for being a little nostalgic. This week has set me just a little off kilter. On Wednesday night I found my collection of old home movies on VHS tapes. They’re in pretty poor condition and I’m having them converted to DVD by Elsa Maxey at Star Digital Studios. As I was sorting through them, I took a few minutes to watch a few snippets here and there. It was mostly video shot at holidays and birthdays.
It made me smile to see my little boys getting excited as they opened gifts, played with toys and rode new bikes. It pained me to realize that even though I shot most of the video that I had little or no memory of the scenes I was watching. At times I had to hold back tears. I wanted to hold and hug those little tykes on the screen just one more time. I wanted to tell them how much I loved them. I wanted to play with them and engage them in the things that made them happy.
Then I got angry. I wanted to slap the man behind the camera. I wanted to warn him about the mistakes he was making. I wanted to knock some sense into him and make him realize how precious and rare the time was that he would have with those kids. I wanted him to man-up and take responsibility for his family and his life rather than be a passive observer.
I couldn’t do any of those things. I can’t send a message back in time. I can’t do anything but watch the video – watch and smile and cry and lament.
I can make new memories. I can engage with my family. Yes, two kids are now grown and out of the house. Two are still at home, however, and I can make the most of that. Of course they’re big, moody, hairy, smelly teenagers now, but that’s beside the point. Or maybe that is the point. They’re still at home and at an age where we can engage them and have a positive influence on their lives.
That will be an enormous challenge because as any parent knows, when a child becomes a teenager he or she is suddenly imbued with wisdom beyond their years and Mom and Dad become as clueless as TV sitcom parents.
I have now reached that age where I must hand the TV remote or my cell phone to my kids and ask them to get me where I want to be. This does nothing to defeat the image of Dad as the clueless doofus who is out of touch with today’s world. In fact, it reinforces it. Still, if I want to get off broadcast TV and watch my favorite shows on Netflix I must endure the ritual that typically includes the rolling of eyes and some joke about my age.
That brings me to another point in this nostalgic journey. Three of my favorite childhood shows are turning 50 this year – “Star Trek,” “Batman” and “The Monkees.” I definitely watched the first two shows as a toddler and grew up with them. I didn’t get into the Monkees until I was in college and MTV brought them back as an original music video band.
I got into the Monkees big time. I bought their albums, watched the reruns and even did an interview with Mickey Dolenz in person at one of his concerts. I still have the interview recorded on tape. I just need a tape player to play it on. (At least that’s something I can teach my kids how to operate!)
The Monkees are touring again for their 50th and they have a new album called “Good Times.” Let me go on record here and now to say that they are long overdue for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s time to end the snub! Oh, and Mickey and Peter, if either of you happen to be reading this, please come to Houston!
I have never seen nor met any of the actors from the “Batman” TV show. Meeting them is on my bucket list, meaning I want to meet them before any more kick the bucket. Other than the movie they made, I have not seen the television show since it went off the air. It’s out on DVD now but a little beyond my budget at the moment.
“Star Trek” has had a strong influence on my life. I have seen all the original cast members in person except the late Deforest Kelley (Dr. McCoy). I infrequently watch the show and the movies on Netflix. My boys think it’s antiquated and cheesy, though they do like the rebooted movies. I like the new movies, too, especially the one that just came out, “Star Trek Beyond.”
Now CBS is making a new Star Trek series called “Star Trek: Discovery.” There hasn’t been a lot of information put out about it but the new spaceship, Discovery, looks like someone put the saucer section of the Enterprise on the body of a Klingon battle cruiser. I’ll have to take a wait-and-see approach to this show.
I haven’t been a fan of all of the previous Star Trek shows (or movies, for that matter). I couldn’t get past the first season of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (DS9), although I’ve been told it got much better. As a matter of principle I will not watch “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” again because it was so hideously bad (so were the last two Next Generation movies).
Still, Star Trek has thrived for 50 years, five television series (six if you count the animated series and seven with the upcoming one), and 13 movies. In the world of science fiction, only “Doctor Who” has been around longer and continuously, but it hasn’t spawned movies and multiple series like Trek has.
I thoroughly enjoy being able to share my interest in “Star Trek” with my family and to pass along my love for the show to my kiddos. At least they will grow up with their own version of the adventures of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and Doctor McCoy. They will also have an appreciation for the series that started it all. And whether they remember it or not, by virtue of having tagged along with me at conventions, they have also seen many of these and other actors in person.
I guess looking ahead it is safe to say my relationship with my kids will live long and prosper. I just hope my home movies will do likewise. It will be nice if they can be preserved for the next generation and beyond.