Nostalgia for Television Conventions Past
Hello Blogosphere! It is I, Jerksica, joining the realm of writing here on the interwebs instead of merely running my mouth on the weekly Blogulator podcast. As a generally discontented person, I'm looking forward to sharing with you one of the few things I don't hate - television.
Okay, so that's not entirely true. There are a great many things I hate about television. It hasn't been a perfect love affair, but who needs perfect? My relationship with television is symbiotic and co-dependent (or at least I like to think television needs me too). I could do without its passive-aggressive shrugging at my insightful, constructive criticism, and its proclivity for bringing unwanted guests like commercials and sporting events into my home. But television has also given me so much sincere joy that I simply cannot trust anyone who says they "never watch television" or need to remind everyone that "they don't even own a television." Hey Hippie: sometimes I eat entire pints of ice cream and don't wear pants. I don't feel the need to brag about my faults and shortcomings. If you don't own a television, get some therapy and try to make yourself worthy of its glowing electrical love.
In any case, dear readers, television, like all of us, has changed, man. The conventions of television's past co-exist with today's brave new social media, streaming, DVR world. Here I share my old, crotchety lady perspective on what I miss from the television I knew in my childhood.
Watching Live Television: Remember when you would schedule AROUND the airing of a specific show? And people would call you on your land line, and you'd say, "call me back later, real human friend looking for interaction. I'm watching my program full of scripted friends that love me the way I deserve to be loved!" I know it may seem convenient to have On Demand and DVRs and web streaming now, but I long for the days when the TGIF line-up on Friday nights brought us all together from 7-9, when you'd wait for the commercial break to grab a snack, and when cliffhanger episodes meant something other than a need to just click on the next episode.
Full-Length Theme Songs:
The 80s and 90s were awesome because television believed in the power of the theme song and full-length opening credits. Hey, I enjoy the sparse aesthetic of the title "Revenge" appearing over a stormy ocean as much as anyone, but I have a soft spot in my usually tiny, hard heart for a good theme. Sure, it made a 22 minute sitcom actually a 20 minute show, but what you lost in additional saccharine dialogue, you regained in sweet neon titles, gratuitous dancing, and actors mugging at the camera in faux-surprise. And those themes would live beyond the show itself, ear candy worming its way into your brain. I still remember all the lyrics to "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper" and "Family Matters." And I'm not embarrassed to admit that I've gathered around my smart phone with other theme song lovers to answer the question, "how did that Perfect Strangers song go again?" Sure, there are several shows today that offer theme songs - New Girl and Raising Hope come to mind. But these drip with irony, and leave hollow, bastardized remnants of theme song greatness in my ear holes.
Crossover Characters: Remember when networks would meld the realities of their shows, crossing one character into another show's universe for promotional purposes? Yeah, that rawked. Steve Urkel would show up to help Stephanie Tanner come to terms with glasses, or the Spin City crew would tune in to watch Sports Night. Last season, there was a romance between Abed on Community and Cougar Town. Danny Pudi appeared as an extra in a Cougar Town scene and it blew my mind. Where was I? Was it 1991? Had I forgotten to take my pill?
These are the conventions that kids today just don't understand or appreciate. Come on television, let's catch the early bird special at Denny's and make it home in time to share some live prime-time together.