Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Back in the dinosaur ages... there were some pretty creative television shows. One of the favorites at our house was the one with KITT the talking car. My kids would sit glued to the television set, barely breathing while that show was on. The car didn't just talk--it did all sorts of cool stunts.

Of course, there was MacGyver. That show introduced the concept of adaptation--use what you have to fix your problem. Week after week after week, kids watch Mac demonstrate creative problem solving. Did he stand around wringing his hands, hoping for someone to rescue him? Heck, no! He hauled out the duct tape and chocolate bars and made it work... whatever it was.

Nickelodean had a wonderful series called the Tomorrow People. It was about a group of kids that had all sorts of psychic powers. They lived a secret life, always on the run from the government that wanted to use them for bad things. The series explored all sorts of concepts like time travel, personal responsibility, consequences and loyalty. Recently, my son located a site that had several old episodes on the internet. It was interesting to watch them nearly thirty years later.

Of course there was the Six Million Dollar Man--and Woman. And even to a lesser extent, Wonder Woman. What did all of these shows have in common? There was no doubt about who the good guys were. There was no ambivalence about who the kids were supposed to root for. And whatever temptations were trailed in front of them, the good guys never fell for them, never gave in, never took that short cut. Sure, they were smart, good looking, could do nifty tricks but underneath all the whiz-bangery there were clear values. For the most part they solved their problems without firearms or even major violence. Sexual connotations were almost nil. The heroes and heroines were frequently involved in situations that demonstrated compassion and humanity.

I suppose that's why I'm really not interested in watching television anymore. There are already too many bogeymen in my life without watching a few more on TV. There are already enough cheap jokes and careless jibes in the world around us. Why watch more on the box?

I do miss the real deal. Especially the talking car.



  1. I never understood why a talking car was that interesting to watch.

  2. The talking car is back, actually. KnightRider has been reborn in a new series (if it's lasted this long).

    I, too, loved MacGyver and will still watch reruns if I find them. It was great to have a brainy hero. After a while, it got a little campy, but it was always fun. And I remember hearing that all (or most) of the things he did--the chemical reactions and things--actually do work. On the more dangerous ones, they'd leave something out of the show so clever children wouldn't accidentally blow up their siblings.

    But I also like that in some current shows, things are more ambiguous. Just like life. You can turn those shows into teaching moments, too. Maybe even better than the purely black & white shows. How often is life so clearly defined? People don't walk around wearing white hats or black hats so we can identify them.

    Just a thought.

  3. I have a theory that there are no more new ideas out there for television. When my students ask why I don't watch television I tell them it's because I've already seen it. The OC? It was called 90210 (which is back now too.) Heroes? We called it the X-Files. And I'd sooner eat glass than watch reality television.

  4. We used to love to watch The A-Team, because of the cool vehicles they built at the end:)

  5. Ah, I veered toward the funny stuff. I never missed Mary Tyler Moore. I still think it's funny today.

  6. I have the complete MacGyver collection on DVD. Let me know if you ever want to have a slumber party. Also have dueSouth. There's something about a deaf wolf who reads lips and argues that you just have to love.