Monday, August 26, 2013

Parental Discretion Advised

Can you smell it in the air? Season premieres of all your TV stories. They are about to launch. You can almost feel it. Of course nowadays we have the luxury of DVRs. Could you imagine how laborious it would be to try to watch all these shows live or record them on a VCR - like ANIMALS?!

As a child it was more visceral. Nobody really informed me of season premieres or reminded me what the cliffhangers were from the season finales. (It's like my parents completely ignored their civic duty all together of keeping me up to speed on what happened on Mork & Mindy.) I could just kind of sense when it was happening.

I do remember that when I was younger my siblings and I were forbidden to watch the television phenomenon known as Three’s Company. Probably for the same reasons you were forbidden to watch it. (Too many pratfalls.)

It was not uncommon for youth my age to be banned from Three’s Company. But my television restrictions did not stop there, ladies and gentlemen. My parents also forbade me to watch such popular small screen sensations as Diff’rent Strokes, Happy Days, The Dukes of Hazzard, and The A-Team, among others. And it wasn’t due to the violence, language or suggestive subject matters. You want I should tell you why I was not allowed to watch the Dukes and Boss Hogg squabble over bootlegged moonshine in Hazzard County? “Because those shows are stupid,” said my dad, laying down the law.  (How Mork & Mindy made it through the approval process remains a mystery. Child Protective Services is still investigating.)

That’s right, not because these shows were inappropriate, but because Dad thought the writing on these shows was sub par. We had one TV in the house, and we were going to watch what Dad wanted to watch. What’s interesting is that my parents were not overly moral about television. They were not the type to threaten to throw out the television or unplug it. They didn’t lecture us about mindlessly spending hours in front of the TV (because we didn’t, because there were only 13 channels). My dad’s legitimate concern was that these shows were not entertaining to him, but were, by his definition, dumb. And he would not expose his children to such drivel.

What DID we watch? M*A*S*H, All in the Family, Rockford Files, Magnum PI. See, it wasn’t that he didn’t like television in general, he just didn’t care for specific shows. 

In fact, to illustrate my dad’s appreciation for television, I will share with you a quick story. We were moving across town, and everything we owned was loaded into the moving truck, including the TV. We couldn’t unload the truck until the next day. It was a Thursday.

“Dad,” I began, as we sat, eating Kentucky Fried Chicken on the furniture-less kitchen floor, “it’s Thursday, and we’re going to miss Magnum PI.”

“I’ve thought about that,” he said, searching through the bucket for a leg. “And I think I’ve figured it out. The furniture section at JC Penney has their couches facing their new, color televisions. We’ll just go down to the mall and make ourselves comfortable.”

“That’s brilliant,” I said, marveling at his ingenuity.

“Not completely,” he said. “JC Penney closes at 9 p.m., and that’s when Simon & Simon comes on.”

Yes, my dad had discriminating tastes. And now that I have children at that same age, I totally get it.
I don’t want to brag, but my kids watch pretty awesome shows, and Katie and I have successfully steered them from watching the Disney Channel as well as other twaddle and rubbish. And that’s my contribution to the world. Uh-you’re welcome, Society.

Nanu-nanu, and good day to you, sir or madam. 

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