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Classic Shows - Which Do We Love More, The Shows or The Era?


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#1 of 34 Frank Soyke

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Posted May 19 2013 - 06:10 AM

I'm goin to get a little phiisophical thistoday and pose an question. Which is it the we love more, the shows themselves or the reminders of the era in which we saw them. To begin with, let's admit that (depite it's many shortcoming's) this time in society is a great time to be a fan of classic TV. I mean, we can go to our local Target or tap a couple keys on Amazon and get pristine (hopefully) full season sets or most of our favorite shows. It sounds like it would have been seen as perfection as recently as 25 years ago. So what is their possible to really complain about?

 

Sometimes I get to thinking is it actaully the shows I'm sho so jazzed up about as much as the memories and time they take me back to when I first saw them. To illustrate, I had the choice to watch my favorite Hogan's Heroes epsiode on a 16mm print or my perfect DVD copy of Season1. Which did I chose? I didn't have to even think about it. It was the 16mm all the way. Now compared to my DVD set, it was grainy, the coler was red, there was sometimes a drop in sound. And there sat my high quality DVD sat right on the table next to me. What the heck was wrong with me? Sure, the DVD copy was far superior in quality. No sound drops. Bright colors. But I just didn'y enjoy it as much. Same epsiode on both so what exactly is my problem? What did the 16mm subpar copy have that my "perfect" copy didn't? Plenty. Original bumpers and commercials. The sponsers product on the lower left ending theme screen. It just had a different feel. "The right feel." I thought, "This is the way is was."  It made me remember a whole lot about my life that the DVD copy didn't. It's kind of abstract, but it was the feeling I was looking for when I bought the DVD set. This is REAL nostalgia

 

Now this an example that I have taken a little bit of poetic licenense with. It didn't happen exactly this way, but it has happened to me quite a few times. So now the philosophy. I think for me, it's not so much the shows (although I love em) as the nostalgic experience they give me overall. Think about it, 35 years, I left the room to get a snack during commercials. Today, I'd be glued to the TV if my favorite program was running with original ads.I din't care about the local ads or t"une in next week" stuff. Today, if you are fortunate enough to have access to these, it makes for a great experience. It takes you back to period of your life that the shows can fully not if they stand alone.

 

Think about the following long gone MO, You know it well. Your favorite TV is on in the afternoon. You never miss it. You have been waiting for your very favorite episode to appear in the cyle. You have seen it so many times you know the episode before it so you are clued in when it's coming. The local TV Guide comes in the mail and your scour that time period hoping that this might be the week. You read the premises of this week shows and determine that these plots make your show at least half a season away yet. Disappointment sets in. Hey, here's a consulation, your fav episode from your next favorite series IS running this week. Oh, well. Not a total loss

 

Today I just pull it off my shelve and watch it. 30 seconds and it's ready.

 

Which would you prefer? I know my answer

 

Crazy, huh???



#2 of 34 jcroy

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Posted May 19 2013 - 06:19 AM

For me, it is definitely the era.

 

In terms of viewing hardware, I still use a 20 year old cathod-ray-tube television for watching older shows.  (I use a WDTV streaming box connected to the composite video input on the tv).

 

For more recent shows which were done in HD from the start, I mainly use my big flatscreen tv.

 

 

Even with the best computer video upscaling program and other tricks, most older shows still look kinda awful on my big flatscreen tv.  (Basically not much different than "polishing a turd").


Edited by jcroy, May 19 2013 - 06:23 AM.


#3 of 34 jcroy

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Posted May 19 2013 - 06:44 AM


Sometimes I get to thinking is it actaully the shows I'm sho so jazzed up about as much as the memories and time they take me back to when I first saw them.

 

I use to think this way too, in regard to older shows I use to watch a lot when I was a kid and teenager.

 

In recent years, this "illusion" has largely been shattered when I watched these same old shows again, now through the eyes of a middle aged adult (and not as a kid or teenager).  I came to the realization that most of my favorite tv shows from the 80's and 70's, weren't much different than Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner (conceptually).

 

I suppose now, I regard such shows as a "guilty pleasure" than anything resembling "high art" (whether real or perceived).


Edited by jcroy, May 19 2013 - 06:46 AM.


#4 of 34 dhammer

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Posted May 19 2013 - 07:08 AM

I guess for me it would be the era. It reminds of a happy, carefree time that many of us would like to escape and return to.  I think it is interesting that today we can see old shows in a quality that the original viewing audience never could. Not even close due to the technology than and now. I love being able to buy shows or movies that I can watch anytime. One could make the argument that before you had to make an effort to watch a show that was shown whenever they chose to, and this gave the experience a certain mystic or urgency.

 

I first got into retro tv on DVd for 2 reasons: A time machine for me to travel mentally back in time. The other was to share with my children the shows that meant a lot to me. Also to spare them from much of the garbage that is out there now. But I have to say, I still really like those old shows. I am glad I can go home again.


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#5 of 34 sidburyjr

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Posted May 19 2013 - 09:36 AM

I've had the experience of seeing DVDs of some great shows from 20 to 30 years ago and realized how awful they were.  Nevertheless, I think it's the content rather than the era that attracts me to old TV shows.

 

I have a friend who has the complete Star Trek (TOS) recorded on VHS highest quality complete with contemporary commercials from the local station.  And he enjoys watching them without skipping the commercials.  In some cases nostalgia rules.



#6 of 34 Ethan Riley

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Posted May 19 2013 - 10:11 AM

In terms of dramatic context, very, very few shows age well. I remember as late as the 70s thinking that Star Trek TOS was a very far-reaching progressive series. Now it seems hopelessly mired in negative 1960s sociology going as far as rampant misogyny. As progressive as it seemed at the time, the Enterprise now seems like the Playboy Mansion. Seems ridiculous now. Very few shows (even today's shows) come up with those little universal truths that play forever. Family Ties was fun to watch in 1983 but it's now just stuck in that era; Alex Keaton was amusing then, now he comes across as a teenage version of Paul Ryan. People might watch I Love Lucy, the Brady Bunch or Bewitched today and wonder why the moms didn't just go out and get jobs...!

 

The only show that didn't age is--suprisingly enough--Dynasty!!! Setting aside the giant hair and shoulder pads, they were actually talking about fracking back in 1982! (Blake's shale-oil extraction process sound familiar?) Some of the women, you will note, behave like the reality show vixen wives of today's television landscape. If you watch the first few seasons now, you'll notice the show was eerily prescient about a number of present-day geopolitical and social issues. Funny, that--because Dynasty is often referred to as the show that "defined the 80s."


 

 


#7 of 34 Neil Brock

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Posted May 19 2013 - 10:42 AM

My answer is in two parts. For shows that I loved as a kid, its definitely the era, for the most part. Up until I was 8 or 9, the majority of what I watched were sitcoms or sci-fi. For those shows, its the nostalgia as frankly, very few comedies hold up as very funny, especially the gimicky ones. Part two are the great dramas from that era that I discovered as an adult. I love watching shows that I was too young for at the time, like Naked City, Route 66, The Defenders, The Nurses, The Eleventh Hour, Breaking Point, etc. Most of those shows were character studies and revolved around the guest stars, not the stars. They were anthologies but not anthologies, if that makes sense. All that aside, nothing beats watching a show with the original commercials from a 16mm print. You can take all your gorgeous remasters off of 35mm and I'll take my faded prints with the commercials any day. Of course, my feeling only runs up until around the time I was 18. Anything after that, they are just annoying commercials and I'd like to be rid of them. But unlike many of the people here, I have no problem with 16mm print transfers, like Room 222. That's one reason why I will never get rid of my tube sets and when they go, I'll be off to Goodwill to find replacements.


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#8 of 34 Regulus

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Posted May 19 2013 - 11:39 AM

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I have an "Unofficial" Set of Kraft Suspense Theatre. One of the episodes has its original commercials intact. The Show itself lasts 52 minutes. As for the next seven minutes (I presume the missing minute was the time alotted for local ads), 30 seconds are a promo for next weeks show, 6 1/2 Minutes are for Kraft Food Products All the ads were presented in an informative manner, there was no obnoxious shouting, and each commercial was shown only once. Its a far cry from what we see today.

 

 

PS, One of the commercials has a recipe for a Chili Mac Casserole. I jotted the info down and made it myself, it's quite tasty. :thumbsup: Because of the manner I got this recipe I call it "Bootlegger's Chili Mac". :biggrin: :laugh: :rolling-smiley:


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#9 of 34 Ejanss

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Posted May 19 2013 - 12:01 PM

I can't with good conscience say it's JUST the era, since I can watch Jeannie for the performers without really enjoying any other hyperactively cutesy sitcom from the 60's where adults acted like 6-yo's.

But in defense of Star Trek, there is the occasional episode that puts the era into context:  Every fan is supposed to giggle at the Joe-Friday naivety of the "Space hippies" allegory of The Way To Eden episode, since every 60's series back then had to do one Establishment hippie-fear episode.  (Ie., in every 60's sitcom, there was at least one episode where, if you met a progressive young friendly hippie, he/she would invite their twenty friends to move in and have freakouts in your living room, and then laugh at your dear-old-dad over-30 attempts to throw them out.)  Kirk, of course, represents the conservative Establishment, while Spock plays the William Kunstler intellectual who tries to open-mindedly analyze the abstract ideals of the movement.  At one point, he tries to explain Vulcan philosophy to the hippies, who react "Logic, man, that's mindblowing!"  And you realize, what you're watching is a prophetic metaphor for why the show DID catch on in the 60's--We were in the middle of Vietnam and international CIA atrocities, why would a show about being uniform shirts in a space Navy catch on?  Probably because Kirk's idealistic speeches in the other episodes, and the examination of social issues through other alien planets showed the middle-of-the-road young people that you didn't have to "drop out" (or drop anything else) to question authority or want to change social dissatisfaction; you just needed a sci-fi or fantasy change of scenery to think about your morality and show you people actually making other people's lives better.  (Which point would be hammered home less subtly in 1977.)  In 1968, if you were a suburban kid who didn't want to drop out of college, and couldn't go to Woodstock, the "hippie movement" consisted of Tolkien, the Monkees and Star Trek.

 

As for the 70's, the first episode that springs to mind for me is a Columbo episode where Lt. Columbo investigates a murder on a movie set.  The show was produced by Universal, and in the "That's Entertainment!" days of '74-'76, every studio was grappling with the death of the studio system and the selling off of the backlots, and MGM going into the hotel business; the dialogue in the episode subconsciously reflects the studio's own idea that movies would probably be dead in our lifetime, TV would permanently replace movies, and all those old classics would run in forgotten exile on late-nite local stations, where only those old folks who understood would still remember them.  And back then, that IS how they saw it--The shakeup of the studio system put a lot of ex-40's-60's actors out of their studio contracts, and I now have a fondness for 70's TV like Love Boat, Fantasy Island or mystery shows being used as an excuse to keep old retired movie actors working.  We all joked it was "charity service" back then, but what's wrong with being charitable?

It's alien now to look at variety shows or Hollywood Squares on GSN, to think that we thought we had to protect the god-given right of famous actors to find gainful employment.


Edited by Ejanss, May 19 2013 - 12:09 PM.

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#10 of 34 maskedmala

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Posted May 19 2013 - 01:21 PM

For me, it's both shows and era. Those were simplier and happier time. RESPECT was something worth for and, I just love those half hour TV shows like:

Dante (w/ Howard Duff), Mr. Lucky (w John Vivyan), Richard Diamond (w/ David Janssen), China Smith (w/ Dan Duryea), Johnny Midnight (w/ Edmond O'Brien), New Adventures of Charlie Chan (w/ J. Carrol Naish), Boston Blackie (w/ Kent Taylor), Colonel March of Scotland Yard (w/ Boris Karloff), The Thin Man (w/ Peter Lawford), Shannon (w/ George Nader), I Led Three Lives (w/ Richard Carlson),

Ivanhoe (w/ Roger Moore), Richard the Lionheart (w/ Dermot Walsh), Captain Midnight (w/ Richard Webb), The Count of Monte Cristo (w/ George Dolenz),

It's About Time (w Joe E. Ross), My Mother the Car (w/ Jerry Van Dyke), No Time for Sergeants (w/ Sammy Jackson), Dusty's Trail (w/ Bob Denver) and some more like : Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion, Decoy, Gang Busters, Lock Up, Passport to Danger, Racket Squad, Rocky Jones Space Ranger, The Third Man.

 



#11 of 34 Ron1973

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Posted May 19 2013 - 01:30 PM

For me, it's the era but with a twist. Most of the shows I like are before I was born but I caught so many in reruns as a kid on local TV. 

 

I know y'all probably get tired of hearing it but WREG was a powerhouse for unedited classic TV up until the early 90's. The fact that the kept rerunning scratchy prints that got worse each go around never bothered me. It added character to the show as being authentic and let me know I was watching an unedited episode. I even love the old Viacom "V of Doom" that was at the end of so many episodes.

 

Cleaned up episodes are nice. I'd love to see The Beverly Hillbillies cleaned up and remastered. But they will never have the "memory" attached of sitting home after school and watching the Clampetts go to England. Memories are tied around those shows. I remember CBS cutting in the middle of one of the England shows to announce Dan Quayle as Bush's running mate. Though I did like Bush, I was mad that they cut in!!! I also remember during the initial run of "The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies" how that CBS cut in to announce that Anwar El-Sadat had been assassinated. I'm sorry, I'd rather see Uncle Jed!

 

I even have fondness for some of the commercials of the era. One that sticks out for me is a local commercial starring Jerry "The King" Lawler well before his WWE days. A guy was stranded in the middle of Memphis with transmission trouble. Lawler was mad because he was holding up traffic. The dude complained he was having transmission trouble and Lawler told him he should've went to Dunn's Transmission and proceeded to give him a push that sent him flying through the streets of Memphis right into Dunn's Transmission!!!  :D


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#12 of 34 Hollywoodaholic

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Posted May 19 2013 - 02:21 PM

It's both. Nostalgia television may be as close to a time machine as we can get, but also "you can't go home again." There's just no way you can completely reproduce the experience and the excitement you once felt. You can get a ghost of that. But the whole reason I believe this HTF exists is because of DVDs and the opportunity to re-experience the content of our youth through a different viewfinder. And I, for one, do get very excited about seeing the content I once watched on a dim rounded tube like I'd never seen it before. That 'ghost' is now HD or near HD. And whereas much of what we once lauded we now laugh at, it's also thrilling to see a closer version of what the original filmmakers were actually looking at or working with. And when the actual story content holds up, or reveals things we never noticed as kids, but now see through eyes and ears and world experience closer to the age of the writers who created it, that's just a wonderful bonus. 


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#13 of 34 jimmyjet

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Posted May 19 2013 - 06:49 PM

the shows, if i am talking about the shows that i really like, with good meaning.  but i prefer to see them with as much clarity as possible, and no commercials.

 

if we are talking the dumb shows, then i would probably enjoy watching them more for nostalgia.  i might enjoy the hillbillies, green acres, mr. ed, my favorite martian, but just a little bit at a time.



#14 of 34 Brian Himes

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Posted May 19 2013 - 07:28 PM

For myself it's a combination of both. I have a very large fondness for the 1970's. I was a kid then and TV was a very large part of growing up then. I have my favorites, Charlies Angels, Battlestar Galactica, The Carol Burnett Show, Space 1999, The Muppet Show, and many others that take me back to those times. I use those for nostalgia and to relive the era. On the other hand, because there was only three networks to choose from, I didn't get to see all of the shows that I wanted to watch at the time. Having them on DVD has given me the chance to discover some really great shows that I hadn't otherwise gotten to see during their original run or caught much in syndication. Shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All In The Family, Emergency, McMillan & Wife, Rhoda and many, many others.  

 

As for watching them with original commercials...well that's a matter of taste. If I want to see vintage 70's commercials, I usually just pop in one of my many homemade DVDs of just 70's commercials.


Edited by Brian Himes, May 20 2013 - 10:38 AM.


#15 of 34 Regulus

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Posted May 19 2013 - 08:18 PM

For me it's a little bit of both. I like watching the shows i grew up with, and the shows i missed at that time because I was watching something else when they were on (Remember VCRs did not become available to the masses until the mid-1970s), and their costs were EXTREMELY Prohibitive until the mid 1980s. (In the late 1980s I thought I'd be in Heaven if I had a Projection TV, A VCR and HBO - at the time a VCR cost around $2,500.00 :o A Projection TV cost more than most new cars, and HBO was available only to those who lived in the boondocks (There was actually a law at that time that PROHIBITED major Cities from having Cable TV!)). Times changed, Cable TV became available to us city folk. The prices for VCRs dropped dramatically, as did those for large-screen TVs. I now own two Large-Screen TVs, A 53-inch Projection HDTV that I bought on the National Day of Insanity in 2005, and a 32-Inch Flat-Screen HDTV I bought on the National Day of Insanity in 2007. Both have VCR and Blue-Ray Players attached to them. But No HBO (or any Pay-TV networks for that matter). In 2007 I decised it was no longer worth subscribing to Pay-TV, and i got rid of them. Fortunately you can buy a lot of the shows you grew up with at a very reasonable price, each evening I watch a lot of these shows, and relive the "Good Ol Days". :biggrin:


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#16 of 34 MatthewA

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Posted May 20 2013 - 10:56 AM

For me, it's the shows and the eras. In addition to seeing exaggerated versions of what life was like before I was born, I'm often in awe of the professionalism of those who made 39 shows a year for far less than what one would get for 22 shows a year today. The outdated social attitudes don't really bother me inasmuch as, living in the 21st century, we're aware of how outdated they are. If comparing a rerun of That Girl to the latest episode of Girls doesn't tell you times have changed, a quick glance at the copyright date should do the trick.

 

Sometimes, it simply reduces mental stress to watch an individual TV episode with a self-contained storyline, though the show itself has themes that seem to recur from episode to episode.

 

I also collected 16mm prints and VHS and Beta tapes of TV shows for years, and I miss the bumpers and promos that used to accompany the shows. But I will never give up the reduced space, lower cost and more consistent quality of DVDs or Blu-rays.

Nevertheless, those pre-DVD sources are sometimes the only way to watch later episodes of shows that are only partially available on DVD, or if the DVD versions are altered.


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#17 of 34 Richard V

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Posted May 20 2013 - 11:19 AM

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For me it's a little of both, the shows were simple, black & white (in more ways than the obvious one), and full of familiar faces.  The era has always been described as "a simpler time" but that does not convey that it was an era full of conflict, violence, and social upheaval.  The Cold War, The threat of the bomb, the Vietnam War, racial conflict, racial riots, JFK, RFK, and MLK assassinations, campus riots, domestic terrorists (The Weathermen, The Black Panthers), the USS Pueblo, the invasion of Czechoslovakia, etc.  A lot of those memories are not pleasant, yet for me at least, they occurred during my childhood and early adolescence, the very time when the world is supposed to be the happiest.  Perhaps it was because of these programs which allowed me to escape, that I find them so appealing today.  Gilligan's Island, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, Andy Griffith, The Twilight Zone, Cheyenne, Maverick, and all the others made it a special time.


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#18 of 34 David_B_K

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Posted May 20 2013 - 12:10 PM

Sometimes the era can be repellant for me. I really don't care for the look of the 70's, and to some extent the 80's, and often find shows from those eras "dated", and not in a good way.



#19 of 34 Regulus

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Posted May 20 2013 - 12:49 PM

For me it's a little of both, the shows were simple, black & white (in more ways than the obvious one), and full of familiar faces.  The era has always been described as "a simpler time" but that does not convey that it was an era full of conflict, violence, and social upheaval.  The Cold War, The threat of the bomb, the Vietnam War, racial conflict, racial riots, JFK, RFK, and MLK assassinations, campus riots, domestic terrorists (The Weathermen, The Black Panthers), the USS Pueblo, the invasion of Czechoslovakia, etc.  A lot of those memories are not pleasant, yet for me at least, they occurred during my childhood and early adolescence, the very time when the world is supposed to be the happiest.  Perhaps it was because of these programs which allowed me to escape, that I find them so appealing today.  Gilligan's Island, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, Andy Griffith, The Twilight Zone, Cheyenne, Maverick, and all the others made it a special time.

 

There were some major accomplishments as well. Among these, the Mercury, X-15, Gemini and Apollo Space Shots.  Nixon traveling to Russia and China to hold summit conferences with their leaders. A new phraise was being heard, "Home Computer". Travel by air became more affordable to the masses, and larger planes were made to transport them. Whenever I'm watching a show from this era I think about where i was when these things happened.


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#20 of 34 jcroy

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Posted May 20 2013 - 01:22 PM

 

For me it's a little of both, the shows were simple, black & white (in more ways than the obvious one), and full of familiar faces.  The era has always been described as "a simpler time" but that does not convey that it was an era full of conflict, violence, and social upheaval.  The Cold War, The threat of the bomb, the Vietnam War, racial conflict, racial riots, JFK, RFK, and MLK assassinations, campus riots, domestic terrorists (The Weathermen, The Black Panthers), the USS Pueblo, the invasion of Czechoslovakia, etc.  A lot of those memories are not pleasant, yet for me at least, they occurred during my childhood and early adolescence, the very time when the world is supposed to be the happiest.  Perhaps it was because of these programs which allowed me to escape, that I find them so appealing today.  Gilligan's Island, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, Andy Griffith, The Twilight Zone, Cheyenne, Maverick, and all the others made it a special time.

 

 

 

There were some major accomplishments as well. Among these, the Mercury, X-15, Gemini and Apollo Space Shots.  Nixon traveling to Russia and China to hold summit conferences with their leaders. A new phraise was being heard, "Home Computer". Travel by air became more affordable to the masses, and larger planes were made to transport them. Whenever I'm watching a show from this era I think about where i was when these things happened.

 

Thinking about it more, I had a similar type of experience when watching stuff like reruns of Law & Order, albeit covering a different time period.

 

I more or less stopped following tv shows regularly sometime in the late 1980's, and started following tv regularly again in 2007.  I was largely ignorant of most television shows during this almost two decade period.

 

By sheer coincidence in 2007, the Law & Order rereuns I was watching just happened to start with season 1.  (I missed the first few season 1 episode reruns at the time).  At the same time concurrently, I was also watching reruns of Law & Order SVU and L&O: Criminal Intent.

 

So over the next year or so, it was like going through a panorama trip of "ripped from the headlines" type events dating back to the 1990's and early-mid 2000's.  Basically almost coinciding with my "lost two decades", where I was largely ignorant of the then-popular culture and many then-current events.  (Approximately the time period covering the "George HW Bush" -> Bill Clinton -> George W Bush administrations).


Edited by jcroy, May 20 2013 - 01:57 PM.





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