Friday, January 27, 2012
Big Valley, Rockford, WKRP Still Worthy Entertainment
There has been an increase for televisions in homes every year up until last year. Hulu.com is one of the reasons 2011 marked the first time ever since television was created that less people claim to have a TV in their home than the previous year.
Watching on the internet has become easy and watching Hulu.com is easy, free and convenient. There is a Hulu Plus that charges money per month for premium shows, but unless you are an avid new TV show watcher, you might be alright with just giving Hulu a try.
They have a wide selection of shows to offer. It seems there's something to offer for everyone.
There is a wide variety of first episodes (the pilots for the shows) and in many instances, there is the full first year of a show.
It's interesting to see a show develop from its pilot through its first full season.
Often, though, after the pilot or first couple of episodes, the rest of the first season is not worth sticking around for. There are a slew of shows that fit this category.
21 Jump Street, Good Times, Barney Miller, the Bob Newhart Show, the Lone Ranger, the Rifleman, Lou Grant, the Practice and the Fall Guy all qualify.
The writing doesn't allow these shows to have the staying power to last and make sense a generation or two later. They become drab, the jokes sour, the plots fizzle and it becomes obvious there is very little reason to be involved with them.
It's okay to consider these shows for another try if the situation becomes desperate enough or if they weren't given a fair shot the first go-round.
Heck, there are dozens of shows that don't deserve to get watched for the first time at all, like the Greatest American Hero, Knight Rider or Grey's Anatomy. They are skimmed by, thought about and then the idea is dropped.
However, there is a next level of older TVland-like show that is worthwhile. This show has something that tickles the brain with interesting dialogue and emotion.
It could be part nostalgia, but no, it's not. The itching to see more comes from the combination of a redeemable plot, character development and decent writing that includes an unpredictable quality and quirkiness.
An entire first season starts to feel like a routine before bedtime or for when a person feels under the weather or depressed.
These shows are worth falling asleep to and on some days waking up to see what was missed from the night before.
The crazy thing is when the show gets too good and instead of dreaming, there's the desire to look back to see what's going to happen next.
Rockford Files, WKRP in Cincinnati and the Big Valley are all authentic shows. Each captures the mood and genre with a surprising and amazing amount of original context.
The Big Valley is a 50-minute episodic Western that began in 1965. It is based around the Central, Northern California era of the goldrush days from the late 1800's.
A bastard son, Heath Barkley, meets his brothers and sister after his rich father dies. The wealthy family bonds together for the good of the region, but with some dastardly unfriendly villains and twisted storytelling.
Bullets flying might wake up a sleeping giant in some Big Valley episodes.
WKRP in Cincinnati is a 23-minute sitcom made in the 1970's about a small mom and son radio station that changes its programming to rock n' roll.
A charming group of diverse characters take each aspect of the radio station and create a warm atmospheric, psychedelic mood mixed with a splash of one-liners and long-winded jokes. There's the business side of things, the show-business side and the news with Les Nessman, the award-winning scatterbrain Cincinnati newscaster.
The Rockford Files has plenty of car chases and telephone ringing, so a deep, deep sleep is necessary to get to REM. This show gives the audience a consistent, engaging private detective story with each 50-minute episode.
James Garner, the actor who plays Rockford is 46 years old in real life when he starts the show in 1974 and they don't try to portray him any younger than what he is. His performance gives the show a strong sense of reality.
Rockford always wins out, just like the Barkleys in the Big Valley, but the endings always have an unexpected twist. And, Rockford goes about his case from the beginning. No steps are taken out of order.
Big Valley, Rockford and WKRP have a couple of things in common. Mainly, they share few, if any, boring moments and they have some of the best of all-time television theme songs.
These shows are perfect for listening to while dozing off. The often heard theme songs feel as familiar as the pillow under the head does.