By: Sandra L. Churchill
It’s a bit awkward to lump my husband and me into a group of people that we’ll refer to as “oldies but goodies.” When did that happen? There are days I still feel like a teenager… Oh, well, there’s a silver lining in everything—memories, shared experience with a whole class of friends, and the ability to identify (and recommend) good entertainment.
We sometimes get discouraged at the lack of family television available that promotes clean comedy and no-need-to-censure episodes of escape. Over the years, we’ve set out to “bring back” the hokey but nostalgic likes of The Brady Bunch, The Waltons, Happy Days, Mork and Mindy, Family Ties, and Growing Pains, that spanned three decades of television. Thanks to the library network, many boxed TV sets are free to borrow and share—which leads to a new culture of fans and spurs discussion at the dinner table.
Soon we found ourselves digging into our parents’ faves, such as I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. Cartoons joined the list with the best of Charlie Brown in Charles Schultz’ Peanuts series, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and other animated classics. We have also connected with our kids over favorite characters, which spanned into kid-themed cereals such as Count Chocula, Frankenberry, and timeless classics such as Captain Crunch and Lucky Charms.
Often our renewed passion for later-released shows such as Full House, Touched by an Angel, and Tales From Avonlea grew a new generation of fans at our house, so much so that new sets were often on our children’s’ Christmas and birthday wish-lists.
Sometimes vacation planning is impacted by the journey into “oldies-but-goodies” entertainment. Our budding I Love Lucy fans helped plan a trip to upstate New York to visit Lucille Ball’s hometown and museum, and our Anne of Green Gables crowd rejoiced over a quest to Prince Edward Island to visit the author’s former homestead and film site for the movie series.
The time capsule didn’t stop at television sit-coms—rather, it expanded to include classic detective series such as Columbo, and Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries. This led to the likes of British detective Hetty Wainthropp (referred to lovingly as “Grandma” at our house since her expressions and no-nonsense wisdom so resemble my paternal grandmother), Sherlock Holmes, and others.
Soon our children expanded their film horizons with Alfred Hitchcock’s black-and-white suspense thrillers and classics like Gone with the Wind. Occasionally, we even bring our youngest child to Showcase Cinemas’ Silver Screen Classics series on Monday afternoons to sample a bit of decades-old film on the big screen. While geared primarily to senior citizens, the black-and-white movies are open to everyone, portray a bit of history, and include a small soda and popcorn—all for $2!
Music of the ‘80s soon joined our collection—quickly evolving from “Mom’s and Dad’s music” to cool and different options that mix things up a little. Soon our teens’ favorite music included Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Cindy Lauper, and the Go-Gos.
What’s fun for us is a refreshing jaunt down memory-lane, entangled with new and emerging music, movies, and the occasional family-geared show that has real promise. (Our one “TV-magnet” for on-air shows is the Once Upon a Time series, which blends classic fairy tales with quirky melodrama, and creative story re-telling.) So over coffee one morning, at the dinner table, or while running errands in the car, why not brainstorm a list of your favorite movies, music, and television to share with your children? It will make you feel young again and provide some engaging conversation. So grab a pencil and paper and start your list! Come on, a new generation of fans is waiting…