The death of Davy Jones this week got me thinking about the TV shows that we (my sister and brothers and I; my parents weren’t much for TV) watched in the years we lived at the Queensborough Manse – The Monkees of course being one of them. Our TV set, which we had for the entire 11 years we lived there, was nothing to write home about – second-hand, I am sure, and black and white (which meant Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color didn’t mean all that much), and before too many years had passed the on/off switch stopped functioning so that we had to turn it on and off by plugging and unplugging it. (Obviously there was no such thing as a remote – or clicker, to use the technical term – in those days. One actually had to get off one’s bottom to change the channel.)
We got two channels initially: CKWS Channel 11, the CBC affiliate in Kingston, Ont. (and did you know that the call letters stand for Kingston Whig-Standard? I once worked at that newspaper); and WWNY Channel 7, the CBS affiliate in Watertown, N.Y., now apparently a Fox channel. The latter’s local star was a guy named Danny Burgess, and he seemed to be the host of every locally produced show, from Saturday-morning kids’ stuff to the weather report. He must have worked about a hundred hours a week.
It was very exciting a few years later when a CTV outlet, CJOH in Ottawa (home of newsreader Max Keeping) appeared on the dial at Channel 6. And finally, sometime in the early ’70s, the brand new Global Television Network (“It’s a brand new point of view!”) on Channel 3. (I would, much later in life, be an employee of Israel “Izzy” Asper, founder of Global, when his Canwest Global corporation bought the Montreal Gazette and the rest of the Southam newspaper chain from Conrad Black. I have to say that back when Global started it really was something. “New” and “fresh” were not operative terms on the Canadian TV scene at the time.)
Anyway, four channels. Talk about choice! That big old antenna really reeled ’em in.
So let’s get nostalgic. Sit back, relax, let the memories flow, and let those corny soundtracks echo in your head:
The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Petticoat Junction, Bonanza, Gilligan’s Island, That Girl, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, The Partridge Family (the Partridge Family!! Worth a whole separate post), Emergency!, Green Acres, The Dick Van Dyke Show, various incarnations of Lucy, Romper Room, the Uncle Bobby Show (don’t get me started), The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., The Honeymooners, Lost in Space, Medical Center (how do I remember that? Was that the one with dreamy Chad Everett and his hair?), the Carol Burnett Show (watch this Tim Conway-Harvey Korman sketch) Hawaii Five-O, Gentle Ben, Cannon, The Streets of San Francisco, Scooby-Doo Where Are You?, Josie and the Pussycats, Mr. Dressup, Chez Hélène, The Friendly Giant, Adventures in Rainbow Country (whose lead character was the unimaginatively named Billy Williams, whose mother was played by none other than Miss Moneypenny, Lois Maxwell), The Beachcombers, Front Page Challenge.
And then there were those odd foreign ones – like Follyfoot, from England, which I liked partly because I never could figure out what the deuce was going on and why all these unrelated characters were hanging out together on a horse farm – and what on earth was that Lightning Tree theme song all about? And The Rovers, Australian, I believe. Come on now, sing along: “The Rovers, the Rovers, follow the wand’ring sun; the Rovers, the Rovers – their world’s exciting and it’s fun.” Let’s get a visual:
What have I missed? I’m sure readers will have many more to add. But rest assured I have not forgotten the best of all, the funniest TV show ever: Get Smart. I saved the best for last. Here are a few choice moments:
Who has more fun than we do?