Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Introducing the Boys to Classic TV: 70s and 80s style

A bit belated, but these are photos from our family Valentine's dinner.  I suggested the boys wear a Valentine's Day outfit.  I was thinking along the lines of a nice red sweater; they threw on their (red) boy scout shirts.  Certainly we hold different visions of festive holiday wear. 

Cuddle time with one of my favorite cuddlers!

I sat the boys down and told them there are somethings in life that should be experienced at least once.  I rattled off a few traditional bucket list items —visiting national parks, exploring foreign countries, tasting exotic foods—and then dove into more commonplace experiences.  We brainstormed a few items and then jumped into the first on the list.  Experience #1: viewing vintage TV shows. And by vintage, I mean the TV programs that were a part of my youth....in the dark ages (the 70s and the 80s).

First stop: The Cosby Show.  

Thanks to Amazon, we accessed an array of Cosby episodes.  The Cosby Show was a favorite in my house during my tween/teen years.  I fondly remember Dr. Huxtable, alway clad in vibrant sweaters, delivering funny punch lines teamed with his signature animated expressions and physical comedy.  

I loved all the Huxtables and can't tell you which I adored the most.  Too-smart-for-her-own-good Sandra.  Flighty Denise.  Girl crazy/academically challenged Theo.  Independent Vanessa.  Baby Rudy.  I cherished them all.  With each episode, I felt like I was part of the family.  I was standing alongside them when the goldfish met his watery demise in the commode, when Theo pierced his ear, and when Vanessa got busted for sneaking out of the house.

The boys found the Huxtable clan to be absolutely hilarious and I appreciated the humor even more as I've slipped into the role of parent.  The kids and I mocked the wardrobes and the 80s lingo, but the meat of the show—the love and humor found in family— still captivates today.

Second destination: The Brady Bunch

With such a warm reception to the Cosby Show, the boys were eager to view the next sitcom.  As I flipped through the cable channels, I came across The Brady Bunch. It was as if the heavens opened and choirs of angels sang "hallelujah." 

The Brady Bunch was my all-time favorite childhood sitcom.  I dreamed of being a Brady.  Sitting between Jan and Marsha at the dinner table. Tossing the football out back with Greg and Peter (hoping it didn't hit my nose like it did Jan's!).  Braiding Cindy's hair.  Eating Alice's dinners.  Visiting Sam the Butcher.  And on and on.

I couldn't corral the boys quick enough around the TV.  The boys liked The Brady Bunch, but perhaps it didn't live up to my hype.  (I may or may not have called it "the best show to ever hit TV.")  They liked the fact that a heavy male presence was part of the family (although they didn't understand the need to add sisters).  The story lines kept their attention, but the pace of the action was slow.  That was apparent.  In our fast-paced, visually stimulating world, the Brady story failed to dazzle the boys.  But the frequent use of "neat-o" and "groovy" kept us all in stitches.

Third stop: The Dukes of Hazzard

I hold vivid memories of sitting on the couch next to my siblings gazing at the General Lee.  I recall Roscoe's silly antics and Bo and Luke Duke's fancy driving.  Who can forget Boss Hogg's nastiness and Lulu Hogg's color?  

When I discovered The Dukes of Hazzard on Amazon (also on cable TV), I thought the boys would be hooked.  It certainly had all the ingredients of a successful boy show: 

fast cars + chase scenes + a dog + good guys + bad guys = a winner.

The boys found the General Lee to be fascinating.  A car with a horn that blares "Dixie" and access only through the windows was perhaps the coolest thing they've ever experienced.  (I instantly wondered which child would be the first to attempt a window-entry into the vehicle...anyone else betting on Cooper?)  The chase scenes were fun, but special effects/stunt actions have certainly improved in a few decades.  I think my minivan could race faster than the General Lee!

Watching the show through parent eyes was an experience. Did Daisy's shorts shrink?  Did Roscoe's language become saltier?  Is the premise of each episode that law enforcement is a bunch of bumbling, corrupt idiots?  (Perhaps I'm reading into things too much.)  

(Word of warning to any parent: the word "virgin" was tossed out in the pilot episode.  That fact was not lost on the eldest Wood boy and sparked a bit of conversation!)

But decades later, The Dukes of Hazzard is still beloved by my boys.  Any show with cars scores well in their books, even if the video is grainy and the action is slow.

The boys and I have only hit the tip of the TV iceberg.  I have yet to introduce them to other "classics" such as Family Ties, Saved by the Bell, Knight Rider, The A Team, Different Strokes, Mork and Mindy, and more.  Just give it time.

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