Dispatches from the Couch

Loyal reader Chris commented on my post from yesterday that he remembered the later cast of Benson – by which I’m sure he means Rene Auberjonois, Didi Conn, et. al.  To be honest, I don’t remember either Caroline McWilliams  or Lewis J. Stadlen, or the roles they played.   Chris also mentioned the concept of upward mobility in the show, and that isn’t lost on me, either.   We live in an age where a college degree is the very baseline of higher employment.  I have friends who have managed, and managed well without a degree, but most of them, once they land, through talent and hard work, into a position that would otherwise be a college degreed role, they end up getting that degree.  I can think of at least three friends or colleagues off the top of my head.  My father’s rise within the ranks in his job would be all but impossible today.  He left college with a few quarters to go, and managed to become a Hospital Administrator.  Ah, the 70s and 80s!

All of this leaning heavily into the history of Benson took me down a massive rabbit hole.

It's a good idea to have a bunny day.

The thing is, I fell in love with television at an early age.  I remember asking my parents once why some shows looked different than others.  What I couldn’t articulate (and I would have been no more than six at this point) was that shows shot on film looked different than shows shot on video tape, or that, even if they were both shot on the same media, they were processed differently.  Here’s an example.  Take a look on YouTube at clip from the show One Day at a Time vs one from Laverne and Shirley – they’re contemporaries in terms of production, but they look very different.  It’s not an entirely fair comparison.  One takes place in “current day” (early 80s), the other in the mid/late 1950s.   But the look of the shows, from the standpoint of the images themselves – different.  I can’t explain it easily with a bigger vocabulary, a degree in Journalism, and a library of YouTube clips – what hope did I have in 1981?

 Anyway.  I love TV.  I loved it even more as a kid.  I grew up during an amazing time for television.   I also grew up in a great city to be a television fanatic. 

 Atlanta, GA.  Channel 17, WTBS.  The Super Station!!!  I grew up with Ted Turner in my backyard.  This means that I was raised on a steady diet of Newhart, Carol Burnett, The Addams Family, Leave it to Beaver, The Munsters, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Green Acres, Brady Bunch, Andy Griffith.  Back in the day, shows started at X:05 and X:35.  And I watched.  And watched.

Around this same time, there was a syndicated show that appeared on WTBS called Down to Earth.  I’m sharing the theme song here because if you watch that, you’ll understand the plot of the whole show.  At the time, I was addicted to the theme song.  I taped it on my recorder and annoyed the shit out of my family, I think.


But the other one that has been on heavy rotation this week is a beauty from the late 80s/early 90s.  I am technically a little too old to have been “into” this show. But at the time, I was fascinated by children’s literature and television.  I had visions of going to work for Children’s Television Workshop after college.  And I think we can see how that went.

 There are a few reasons I love this song.  It’s the a capella theme from Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?  I played the game on my friend Jennifer’s computer, I loved it, and I thought the show was crazy clever.  I was a huge fan of Lynne Thigpen.  I would love to tell you that I know something about geography as a result, but I don’t.  I have, for what it’s worth, memorized the song.  Do it, Rockapella!!!


I also love it because I travel a lot, and the syllables in my full name fit the song pretty well.  Maybe I’ll be Carmen next Halloween.  Maybe not.
Anyway.   Happy Halloween.  Get yourself some good candy, but then brush and floss, OK?  We have to keep these teeth for a while.



Christopher said…
Even without listening I remember the theme to Down To Earth rhyming "trolley" and "golly". What a fun show. Cable, which brought WTBS along with several other networks, to Nashville, was a wonderful thing. There was also the USA network. Before it became a dumping ground for Law & Order it had the Cartoon Express, Commander USA, The Ray Bradbury Theater, and all sorts of wacky goodness.
And oddly enough I remember Didi Conn from Benson. For some reason her introduction, in which she's listed "reading upside down" under "hobbies" on her resume sticks with me. And I remember Ethan Philips who, like Auberjonois, would go on to be a heavily made-up Star Trek character.
However I think I'm slightly older since I remember watching the show Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? in college--never have played the game.
And further down the rabbit hole I remember asking my mother why some segments of Sesame Street looked different from others. The taped segments, I said, looked "like real life". Even now film has a glossier, less realistic look to me than tape.
Thank you. I'm going to try and climb out of this hole now.