Sometimes You Want to Watch What’s Familiar

Recently I have been rediscovering a lot of old television shows from my youth.

This is not to say that the television shows being made today are not as good as the ones back then as much as it is to say that there are not as many good shows to choose from.

Too much television today is dedicated to the so called reality shows where reality is a long way from what is depicted.

While reality shows may have once been based in reality they soon turned more towards the scripted side where the lines between what is real and what is scripted becomes blurred.

The scenarios in these “reality” shows become so absurd and predictable at times that the only thing missing is a laugh track and the announcer saying that it was filmed before a live studio audience.

I have often said that the only true reality shows on television are live sports broadcasts and episodes of COPS.

The trend of catching up on television shows from my youth was likely kicked off by rediscovering MacGyver. Photo R. Anderson

The trend of catching up on television shows from my youth was likely kicked off by rediscovering MacGyver.
Photo R. Anderson

With the return of baseball approaching my nights will once again be filled with the soothing background noise of nine innings of competition on the baseball diamond.

Granted there are many television networks that air replays of classic games but for me if it is not live I do not want to watch it.

This is the same philosophy I use in not watching tape delayed Olympic coverage. I like the Olympics and like keeping up with the medal count but if I am not able to see the action the moment it is happening I am not interested.

Once a sporting event is over I just do not want to watch it. I may watch clips of a key play if I missed a particular game but I just cannot watch a game once the outcome is already known.

So while sports is an in the moment sort of thing I have discovered that many of the television shows that younger me liked have withstood the test of time.

Some of those timeless shows that I have been rediscovering lately include The X-Files, JAG, and surprisingly enough the Dukes of Hazzard.

Of course the trend was kicked off about a year ago when I started watching old episodes of MacGyver which as noted before is one of my all-time favorite television shows if for no other reason than my mom is convinced that I am related to the star of the show.

The first two shows on the list spanned my college years and now a few decades later I have found that while some of the plots may be a little dated for the most part they still include well written scripts that are well acted out.

Despite premiering over 20 years ago the X-Files and their "truth is out there" plots have stood the test of time.  Photo R. Anderson

Despite premiering over 20 years ago the X-Files and their “truth is out there” plots have stood the test of time.
Photo R. Anderson

As for the Dukes of Hazzard, those storylines of the show from my elementary school days are slightly more dated with the excessive use of CB radios instead of the cell phones that would be used today.

Few can argue though that for the most part a car jumping a ravine and a multigenerational family dynamic in a small Georgia town is as fascinating today as it was back in 1979 when it first aired.

I am sure there are many reasons why these old shows offer comfort and entertainment so many years after leaving the airwaves and arriving on Digital Video Disc (DVD) but for me the reason is rather simple.

Watching the old shows gives me a chance to relive some old memories and think about how I used to rush through bath time to make sure I was sitting in front of the television set by the time the opening credits were rolling for the Dukes, or how I would rush home from Sunday night church to catch the latest case for Mulder and Scully.

Now that I think about it there was a lot of rushing involved the first time I watched the shows so maybe now I am able to watch them at a slower pace after rushing home from work.

I also do not want to paint the picture that all I did in my youth was watch television. While there was a lot of television watching there was also a lot of time spent playing pick-up games with the kids in the neighborhood after school and reading.

Like the X-Files Jag is an over 20-year-old series that is still worth watching all these years later. Photo R. Anderson

Like the X-Files Jag is an over 20-year-old series that is still worth watching all these years later.
Photo R. Anderson

I am sure that all of us have television shows from our past that trigger memories of simpler times or perhaps time spent watching with someone who may no longer be with us.

Whatever those shows are that spark those memories they are worth holding on to as long as we can.

As mentioned above there are still some good new shows on the air and new memories being made each night by families across the globe.

While the shows bringing those families together may vary the connection being felt and the memory imprints cross through cultural and generational lines.

While scripted shows from my youth seem to be holding strong I often wonder how many of the crop of reality shows will stand the test of time.

That is nothing against the families who gather together to watch American Idol or the myriad shows like it. I just wonder if 20 years from now watching this season’s Idol episodes will be as magical as watching Bo and Luke Duke driving a tank with a hidden moonshine still in it.

Speaking of moonshine, odds are without the Dukes on the air there would not be that popular show about those moonshine making moonshiners on the Discovery Channel. What is the name of that moonshiners making moonshine show anyway?

It is hard to say what show from my youth I will rediscover next. There are many more on the list that I enjoyed during various phases of my life that are probably worth traveling down memory lane for.

Of course there are also some shows that are best left in the decades from which they came so the trick is finding the balance and the show that is still as good today as it was back then.

In a world of reality television I will take the memories of well scripted television from the past any day.

Of course when that fails it is always fun to curl up with a good book and let the garden of my mind paint the pictures for me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some more old shows to rediscover.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

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