Have you noticed all the new retro TV channels that have come about since our over-the-air television broadcasts switched over to digital? Every broadcast outlet that traditionally broadcast a signal to their local market suddenly had more bandwidth to fill with programming. In metro Detroit, that meant some broadcast channels started offering lifestyle stations and syndicated programming from the 60s, 70s and 80s.
My husband and I have quickly become addicted to running marathon sessions of programs like The Twilight Zone, The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island. It’s oddly comforting. Since I’ve seen most episodes of these series several times, when they were first broadcast and when they first became syndicated when I was a teen, the familiarity of both the characters and stories has me feeling like a toddler watching the same episode of Teletubbies over and over and over because the predictability makes them feel good.
I’ve also noticed some very entertaining aspects of the production process during the 60s and 70s. Today, Mike Brady, instead of getting out of the car from the driver’s side LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE DO, crawled over the passenger side and used that door instead, even though he was driving. (When was the last time anyone driving a car got out on the passenger side of the vehicle, unless the door on the driver wide was broken?) Yesterday, Carol Brady and Alice the Housekeeper got out of the car, after an imaginary trip to the grocery store with Mike. They were each holding two full bags of groceries in their laps, in spite of the fact that they were riding in Mike’s station wagon. We’ve noticed several similar oddities in most of the old programs we’ve been watching.
Why do the characters on these old programs do such strange things? It’s called “blocking” and it’s the way the director has the characters on a production stand, walk and interact with props. Apparently, it was more efficient to have Mike hump himself over to the passenger side than it was to have him walk around the car. Too funny.
I agree with blogger and TV historian David Hofstede, who calls this time of television “Comfort TV.” He recommends watching programs for a similar era together, for example, watching shows from 1971 like The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family and the Odd Couple in close proximity. With stations like ThisTV and MeTV, plus Netflix, Hulu and so many other streaming services, it’s become so very easy to revisit the programs we used to love. Why not take a little comfort in what you’ve already seen? And besides, I forgot to mention that the cheese factor in these programs is awesome!