Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Childhood TV Shows

Growing up we had a black and white TV and my father rationed out the time we could spend in front of it. But the shows were did get to watch, although simpler, hold very fond memories. Not necessarily detailed memories but they still create a warm feeling inside me.

Sky King is a favorite amongst people my age. Sky King was a cowboy who flew his plane Songbird, captured bad guys and helped people in distress. His niece Penny was another character in the show and she helped him with his good deeds. I watched the show during the late 1950's when airplane flight was not common for the general population.

Rin Tin Tin was a German shepherd who lived with his young master at Fort Apache in Arizona after being orphaned by an Indian raid on a wagon train. Rin Tin Tin helped the soldiers maintain order in the area. What kid didn't love the dog who saved people?

Annie Oakley was the only female hero on TV in my youth. She and her brother lived in the small Western town of Diablo with their uncle who was the sheriff. Annie was a sharpshooter and she, her horse Target and her brother helped keep law and order in the town. That girl could shoot and ride a horse like no other!

Garfield Goose was another Chicago show but not nationally known. Garfield Goose believes he is King of the United States -- Garfield is a puppet. Frasier Thomas is a human who is Garfield's prime minister who understands that the goose is not king but dasn't tell him such. The entire show was kind of a silly notion but the concept worked and I know I loved it.

Diver Dan was a program I watched around the same time as I was a Garfield Goose fan. Diver Dan wore one of those helmeted diving suits, knew a mermaid, had a nemisis named Baron Barracuda whose sidekick was a cigarette smoking fish. The evil barracuda really made the show as we waited to see how mean he would be each episode.

Zorro is still well known because of the Antonio Banderas movies. At the time Guy Williams was playing Zorro on television, a Mexican setting (it was Spanish/Mexican era California) with Mexican characters in lead roles was unheard of. The sword fighting was an exciting change from shoot outs and the way Zorro left his famous "Z" on doors and shirts became iconic.

The Lone Ranger had the ever popular Wild West setting with the masked Lone Ranger as the man making wrongs right. The unique twist in this show, besides the mask, is that the Lone Ranger's sidekick,Tonto, is an Indian (Native American today--Redskin or Indian in the show). It was rare for a minority to have a key role in a television show in those days. As with Zorrow, it is hard to resist a man in a mask, especially a man who is charming, polite, and helps damsels in distress.

Superman was the Lone Ranger in tights and New York City rather than the Wild West. While Superman's side kicks were Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. Like the Lone Ranger's mask, Superman's costume hid his true identity. Lois Lane, like Annie Oakley, was a tough woman who didn't let men get in her way.
Any special effects in these shows were primative compared to todays' shows and the acting was not too refined. But as kids, we didn't have a basis for comparison and were thrilled with the stories and excitement provided by these shows. Televisions weren't on 24/7, we had three channels to watch, and there was no sex or swearing allowed. The violence shown was simple shoot 'em up, knock 'em out, or in Zorro's case, fancy fencing. There were no blood and guts and no torture. While all the glitz and glamour, fancy special effects and stunts of today make for good viewing, there was something to be said of the simplicity of the shows in the 50's and 60's. The plot lines were simple, good triumphed over evil, and did it without much complication.

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