~my thoughts about life~

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Evolution of Television

When I was a kid, we had a big, square TV that sat on a stand.  You had to turn the dial to get one of 4 or 5 stations.  We got channels 3, 5, and 8...the big networks.  There was PBS in the middle and then our favorite, channel 43.  That was the one that had cartoons after school.  We were very limited in our TV watching.  After school, we were allowed to watch one show.  That meant that my brother and I had to agree on something to watch together.  Anyone under the age of 30 has no idea the significance of Saturday mornings to a 1980's kid!  We had free reign on Saturday mornings.  We got up, probably around 8:00 and watched cartoons until they went off.  It seems like that happened around 10:00.  We were even allowed to eat breakfast in front of the TV.  That was a huge deal and made us love Saturdays so much more!  On Saturday nights, we ate dinner, took our baths, and I got pink sponge curlers in my hair for church the next morning.  My brother and I had to learn our memory verses.  We had to have all this done by the time The Muppet Show came on at 7:00 PM.  It was the best show of the whole week!  When it was over, we went to bed!  It was routine.  It was expected.  It was normal.

On occasion, something magical would happen on an unusual night.  There would be a SPECIAL on!  I can still remember the animated graphic of the word "Special" that would turn around on the screen.  It had some sort of techno/drum music that played with it.  When you saw that graphic come on, your anticipation heightened nearly to the extent of Christmas morning!  There were going to be cartoons on at night!  It might have been Charlie Brown and The Great Pumpkin.  It might have been The Cat in the Hat.  Whatever it was, it was pure bliss.  We would usually get with our cousins so we could all watch The Special together.  

My kids don't get that excited about anything in life!  They don't understand how spoiled they are!

When I got a little older, we were the first in the neighborhood to get a TV with a remote!  Wow, we were big time!  My dad broke his back and was confined to a hospital bed for six months.  My mom went out and bought him a TV.  I guess it was around that time, when I was 10, that we got a VCR!  Oh wow....the history of television changed forever!  I was always slightly jealous because we didn't have Beta Max, but VHS was perfectly acceptable.  Everyone wanted to come to our house to watch TV because my dad had a huge antenna on the roof.  We didn't mess with rabbit ears on top of our TV set...no ma'am.  That was small potatoes.  We also had added channels 61 and 19 by this time!  There was also channel 17, but I think that was mostly a Hispanic religious station.

On Sunday nights, the Disney Sunday Movie came on with host Michael Eisner.  We had church on Sunday nights, so we videotaped it.  My brother and I would watch those movies over and over.  We got to the point where we could quote them.  Some of our personal favorites were The B.R.A.T. Patrol, Mr. Boogedy, and Ask Max.  If anyone else has ever heard of any of those movies, I would really love for you to comment about it!!!

At this point of my life, I only knew two people who had cable.  One was a poor family in our church.  They lived in a crummy house, had shabby clothes, and even smelled bad.  But they had cable!  They would videotape countless movies and let us borrow them.  No matter how bad they smelled, I was willing to borrow those tapes!  The other person who had cable was my grandmother.  She lived next to a high-rise apartment building and could get no stations with an antenna.  She was forced to get cable.  This made going over to grandma's even more exciting!  She watched her "stories" during the day while she ironed.  As the World Turns was her program of choice.  But in the evenings, the cousins and I would watch Nickelodeon!  That was the greatest thing since sliced bread!  There was a show called You Can't Do that on Television where they would slime people for saying "I don't know."  More than anything, I wanted to meet Allister and get slimed!

As a teenager, the world of sitcoms broke out.  There were shows like Who's the Boss? and Growing Pains.  There was never a shortage of a good, family show to watch in the evenings.  A couple of my favorites were Small Wonder and Alf.  A couple years later, The Wonder Years premiered and it was our go-to Saturday night entertainment.

I miss those wholesome shows.

My parents never got cable.  They felt that it was an unnecessary expense.  After I got married, I felt I was grown up enough to make my own decisions about television viewing.  We got satellite.  Now, I'm not talking about the enormous, swimming pool sized dish that stood on a huge base in the back yard.  (My great uncle in Indiana had one of those....we could never actually find anything to watch on it, but we sure did enjoy seeing the dish rotate around to pick up different stations!)  Hubby and I got DirecTV.  Over the years, the cost grew and grew.  I eventually turned into my mother and realized that this expense was totally unnecessary!  I cancelled it.

Now, I don't think you can call it full circle, but we're back to having only the stations that we can pick up with our digital antenna.  To be honest, it's not much greater than that huge contraption my dad had anchored to the roof of our house.  It cuts in and out quite often, so we just don't watch TV much any more.  I've taken to reading instead.  Life is better, I'm happier.  TV is garbage.

Except for Downton Abbey.  Don't mess with my Downton Abbey!!!


The Lovely One said...

I remember those days!

I agree that tv is garbage. I admit that I watch Bachelor (and Modern Family and Big Bang), but I cringe when I realize that my kids probably watch those shows more often than I care to admit!

I've never heard of those movies. I remember as a child, before we got cable, that those Sunday night Disney movies would come on a channel that we couldn't get good reception on. I can remember switching to one channel and hearing the sound but there was no clear picture, and the next channel would have the picture but no sound! I remember sometimes switching back and forth between the two channels so I could try to figure out the movie!

Mimsie said...

Fun post, reminiscing. We decided when we got married that we would not have tv. My family hadn't gotten it until I was in my teens, and my husband's family never had one. Lest I sound goody-goody, I have to say our kids waste too many hours on computer games, so there is that. But I've never regretted not having one. I am the type who would be spending hours every day watching old movies.