Do you remember how fun it was, when you were a kid, to be excited, and worried, and, every so often, a little frightened by what you saw on TV?
I sure do, and my older kids, now teenagers, certainly do as well.
I was born in 1971, which put me at ground zero for all sorts of Saturday morning mayhem, syndicated afternoon fisticuffs, and imported Japanese destruction. These were revealed, in the cold light of adulthood, to be more than a little phony. Captain Marvel never once fought Mr. Mind’s Monster Society of Evil, because he was too busy reminding Timmy not to go whitewater rafting on a full stomach. The Sleestak had these crossbows which were slightly less threatening than a Nerf gun. Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers did indeed fight Bigfoot and the Fembots once or twice, but they spent most of their time driving around Burbank looking for counterfeiters in turtleneck sweaters. Batman only got a third season by cutting the budget by two-thirds and double-banking episodes to turn into feature films for South America. Goldar, Silvar, and Gam fought the same monster for four episodes running because the producers couldn’t afford that many monster costumes.
But a funny thing happened. I maintained my nostalgia for these shows regardless, collected them as best I could back in the heady, ridiculous days of VHS tape trading, and dumped them on my children in the early 2000s and watched them eat them up. Sometimes literally. Those tapes were kind of fragile, it turned out. Eventually, when they were a little older, and these old shows started coming out on DVD, we started watching them together with a little more structure, and added one or two similar programs that excited, thrilled, and occasionally traumatized British audiences in the mid-to-late 1970s to our rotation.
The result was some of the happiest experiences of parenthood. Whether watching my boy get so excited that a beloved arch-villain had returned that he started weeping, or my girl look at her toys and her inflatable chair in abject horror, convinced that they were now about to come to life and eat her, we can and do look back with smiles and laughter. There’s something about the shared experience of watching classic adventure TV as a family that turns the mediocre into magic, and the low-budget into life-fulfilling.
The above paragraphs will hint at what we’re going to enjoy together as my toddler son turns four. I don’t wish to be too specific about what horrors and adventure await him, but we’ll be watching a pretty wide range of family-friendly adventure shows from about 1966 through the present day. Some of them have stood the test of time and are, sensibly, considered classics. Some of them were awful then and nostalgia hasn’t improved them one bit. Some we’ll watch the full run, or just about, and some I’m sure we’ll cut off after just a few episodes.
In each entry, I’ll try to keep things simple and short. I’ll mention a little bit about the production, if I know it, what Daniel thought of it, especially if he’s sharing anything I’ll want to remember, and whether I have any memories of the episode either from my own childhood or when I saw the show with my older kids a decade back.
I hope that he enjoys everything, and that you out there reading this will remember how much you enjoyed the TV of your yesteryears as well. Please feel free to share and to comment, but please remember this is a family-friendly blog. We do not allow negativity in the comments; polite disagreements are welcome, even about politics, but the only person allowed to be a jerk in these pages is the author.
A Note on Sources
I wish to set a good example for my son about piracy and artist’s rights, and so, wherever possible, we will use legitimate sources – DVDs that I have purchased – for the shows that we watch. On rare occasions, but only if the disks are out of print and unavailable for reasonable prices, we may use YouTube for limited samples of the program. Examples for this include The Bugaloos and Lidsville. If the show has never been released legitimately in the English language on DVD, then we will not feature it at this blog. I hope that favorite shows like Horror Hotel, The Space Giants, and Salvage-1 are released in English, and soon, so that we may enjoy them again.
If you were inspired, excited, or horrified by something from TV or the movies when you were a kid, we’d love to hear from you! Share your terror in a comment below!