Sunday, July 31, 2022

Through A Glass Darkly

 Recently there was a flurry on my Twitterfeed surrounding a forty-two year old promotional video for the American Broadcasting Company. It featured the stars of a great many of that network's prime-time shows "singing and dancing" their way into your homes. The reason I suspect that my social media bucket had this tidbit dropped into it is my demographic. And my algorithm. And the fact that I can remember sitting transfixed back in 1980 when it first aired. "Hey look! It's Hal Linden!"

If you don't immediately recognize the name or the face, that's fine. My head is where Hal and those spirits akin to Hal abide. He was the star of the cop-comedy Barney Miller, that ran until 1982. I would imagine that Hal didn't have that end date in mind when he slipped into that white tux and came strutting down that staircase. That was all part of the job. 

There was a time when there were three broadcast networks. Three channels to get all your prime-time entertainment. For every Barney Miller, there was a "blink and you'll miss it" show that wasn't any sort of institution. It's A Living, starring Ann Jillian is an example of a sitcom that lasted a couple seasons and then found its way to the "where are they now?" bin. New faces mixed with old on that star-studded sparkling set. Ricardo Montalban, whose career began in the 1940s can be seen dancing on the same stage as Burgess Meredith, who began his life on screen a few years before. We recognized them as the host of Fantasy Island and Those Amazing Animals! respectively. Yes, that's Tom Hanks, long before he was collecting Oscars, promoting his show Bosom Buddies. And under a hiatus-worth of beard and hair you can make out The Fonz, Henry Winkler. 

If you were so inclined. My wife, who is two years younger than I am let me know she had no real interest in guessing who was whom. She lives in a world with more choices of viewing than she currently has time. She did not feel the same siren's call to the wayback machine. That was long ago and far away. It was a time when there was an actual Battle of these same Network Stars. And do I remember Howard Cosell ingratiating himself to any and all who gave him the opportunity during the broadcast? You bet I do. 

But this is where I live. The past. The all-singing, all-dancing promotional video for a life lived in front of a cathode ray tube. 

Look it up. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like to imagine the executives sending the drafts back over and over again with large red scrawl "Needs more bland!"