Before I begin my ramble about my view of television through the years, I share with you a few “well-worn” images from my files.
I’ve shown about a billion (or so it seems) images from White Sands New Mexico on this blog over the years. All those photos with pure white gypsum sands, often with a pure blue sky overhead. Then dozens at sunset with the sand painted various shades of yellow and gold. Still, there is always more from White Sands,
Sometimes, high contrast and powerful color is not present. In this case shadows make the image cooler than most from White Sands.
The image below only has some minor color to share with us because well, that’s the way it looked when I created the picture. Beauty in indeed in the eye of the beholder. Stark can be beautiful too. I always thought my job was to show you a place, and do so if possible, in all versions of its realities.
Some places need only a little thought to photograph. I mean, get the exposure right, make a composition that shows what you are seeing at the moment, and go click.
The location below was in south central Colorado.
Monument Valley Arizona, Utah, is one of God’s most beautiful locations in and of itself, but there is life in that desert and below we find a mare with foal.
Finally, even Illinois can be fantastic when you find a Red Fox on the move but willing to let you take its picture.
Some days are just great.
I rejoice at the fact that today we can view old television programs daily on a variety of stations and networks. Memories from my tiniest years into my late twenties are stirred up and revived by such shows. The good, the bad, and the ugly. If we can be moved to laugh or cry at the good ones, surely we can enjoy the absurdity of the bad ones. In some ways, I prefer the bad ones.
Each of us who has a bit of seasoning, I am sure has our own ideas of what is good or bad.
When I was little, I often watched Superman. The shows I watched were already old shows which we being syndicated. It comes on today every week and yes, I have watched several of them. I will admit, they are so bad and geared towards four year olds, that it can be hard for me to watch. Still I make it through about two episodes a month. I suffer in order to remember. To remember a more pure and simple time. Good and bad were clear. A little too clear perhaps, but there is something to be said for standards.
Some shows, from the beginnings somewhere in the forties, through the mid sixties after when television changed dramatically, are absurdly bad, but some are meant to appear bad. So we can laugh at their absurdity. They are so bad that they are good. Even smart.
In the 60s, Green Acres was born. Crazy people who lived in a sort of time warp. Everybody had some sort of mental defect. There was even a talking pig. How silly! The reason the program was actually smart is, they were having fun with their own silliness. It was so stupid, it was smart.
I wrote about how bad Superman was, but later came Batman.
I was older with this one but unlike my friends, I did not like it. When it first began a series of reruns, I was older and I finally got the sarcastic vision they had for themselves. The screen would light up with “comic book style” (remember this came from a comic book), Bams, and Booms, and so forth. It was so silly, and I finally realized, it was intentionally made to be silly. A living comic book. It was still not my cup of tea but at least I could occasionally could enjoy the sarcasm and the reverse humor.
In the sixties there was a situation comedy called Get Smart. It was a blatant attempt to be silly and make fun of the very show we were watching. It was obvious because of the way they delivered their lines, and because they simply put the silliness on vivid display. I found it reasonably funny but I still prefer the ones where you realize their unrealistic parody of actual life, only after four or five episodes. The best, should fool you for a show or two at least.
Some shows seem to have been meant for small children,, but had many “duel meanings” to their words and their actions. They wanted grownups to “get it as well”. The cartoon show, Rocky & Friends, also marketed as Rocky & Bullwinkle, with Rocky being a flying squirrel, and Bullwinkle being a moose, had that double life going on. There was often something else going on beyond the obvious, and adults could enjoy it.
Almost no shows from the fifties, including comedies, but especially serious dramas, were any good at all when they began. That of course is my opinion. It always took them at least a season, to become worthy of watching.
Police shows such as the original Dragnet from the late forties early fifties, M Squad and more were lame in the beginning, but as they moved forward they began to share more thought provoking stories, with much more serious consequences. They became better as they shared more true stories, and dealt more with the human condition and used more natural acting styles. Highway Patrol made the biggest changes, as they made the life of these cops more realistic.
Now westerns are westerns, and I love them good or bad, from the advent of televisions for the masses, in about 1948 or so, into the 1970s after which this genre, mostly disappeared from our screens.
Once again, it was the good the bad and the ugly, and I love them all.
Most of TV’s earliest westerns, were made for kids. As time went on, shows made for both children and adults, appeared, and finally before its TV demise in the 80s and 90s, many became adult only shows. Mostly of course on cable TV.
Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Annie Oakley, The Lone Ranger, the Cisco Kid and more, were kid’s shows. That of course does not stop me from watching them today.
The first successful adult western was Gunsmoke. It became the longest running drama of any kind or genre of all time. It did change with the years to fit the changing times of the 50s, 60s, and 70s.
Some shows such as The Rifleman, were made with a good message. In this case it was a good intentioned widower who had a farm just outside of a New Mexico town. He had a young impressionable boy who he raised with the utmost morality and care. With that said, he killed from one to six or so “bad guys” with his rifle in every episode. He followed rules but he must have killed a hundred people during the duration of the show.
Variety shows barely exist any more, at least as they did from the early 50s to the 90s. The Ed Sullivan Show was the most successful and the longest running. Yes, I did see the Beatles first appearance and have seen the same from Elvis, but only in later years.
I remember when cable first appeared worldwide. New cable shows and the movies they played, made me realize that our world was becoming not more realistic as some said, but simply more perverse and often hateful. You can be silly in a charming sort of way, or in a fashion that lowers the human condition. I was certainly no better than anyone else watching TV, but I gladly have omitted cable from my life. Although, 24 hour a day reception would be nice again.
Thanks for reading my rants. As always, I never know what will cross my mind when I begin writing.
May God Bless,