Make It Retro, Please

Published February 27, 2013 in The Ferndale Record

Disconnecting cable TV was a brave thing for me to do. It was a monthly expense I could ditch and feel pretty good about. But as a child of the TV age, it’s always been within my reach to entertain, soothe and keep me company. It’s not a popular thing to admit, but I love television and yes, my children were raised within TV’s warming glow.

So, I miss it, but not because of Downton Abbey, the series finale of 30 Rock, or Saturday Night Live. I can watch those online if I want. I just miss it being there, ready to distract and delight me on command.

Since my remote using days are over for the time being, I’ve become attached to Internet sites that dish up what I can rarely find, even with a bazillion cable or dish channels. I get the old stuff, whenever I want it. Nice, right? I’m not talking about I Love Lucy, which can be seen somewhere in the world at any time of the day or night—and with good reason: it’s a classic.

Recent exploration has led me back to television in the 80s when my hair was big and highlighted, and my children were babies. It was a time when anything seemed possible and Ronald Reagan was President. I wore Hard Rock Café t-shirts and a Mickey Mouse watch purchased on Main Street in Disneyland. When I dressed up, it was in clothing with shoulder pads large enough for aircraft to safely land upon and chunky, sparkly jewelry like Cybill Shepherd wore in Moonlighting.

Days were for keeping up with the family and evenings for losing myself in whatever tripe I could find on the tube. It was rarely soapy drama. No Dallas or Dynasty for me. I was more about MacGyver and The A-Team for adventure, The Wonder Years (if I needed a poignant pause), and every Friday night it was ABC’s lineup of comedy, mostly importantly, Perfect Strangers.

I don’t own the DVDs (yet), but finding full episodes of this show online reminded me of why I watched TV in the first place. It’s full-blown, utter silliness with physical comedy that rivals that of Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz. It’s sweet without too much sap, and the chemistry and timing between the lead actors is crazy good.

There’s no high moral message, no “something to think about,” just complete nuttiness that makes me laugh every time

I appreciate it even more now because it reminds me of those Friday nights when all my kids were under the same roof, no electronics distracting any of us. There we were, just hanging out, watching TGIF together.

Online viewing has other perks besides nostalgia. Before the networks and cable stations turned closing credits into half screens and filled the void with what’s coming up next, you could actually hear the music (sometimes good stuff) and read the credits without a de-squintization device (I know there’s no such thing, but if there was, it would apply here).

Until the day I have TV again, and I will, I’m entertained and informed with a good Internet connection. And not always, but sometimes, I’ll use technology’s built in time machine to revisit the exquisite buried treasure inside my computer.  I’ve got to say, it’s worth the trip.

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