LB: Old TV Shows are Being Rediscovered by New Viewers – Yikes!

Cannon_William_Conrad_TV_Intro_1971

Well, well, what do you know? According to the New York Post, “older shows are seeing renewed popularity among a new generation of viewers, who learn about the shows via social media, because they feature well-known actors or directors, or are discovered simply by scrolling through Hulu or Netflix.”

According to the Post:

Maria Claudia Sanchez wasn’t even born when “Twin Peaks” originally aired on ABC — but it’s one of her favorite shows.

Even though it was from the ’90s, it doesn’t look dated, because it’s just so interesting,” says Sanchez, 17, of Weehawken, NJ. She says she recently watched the series with her mother on Netflix — where she has also discovered shows like “Freaks and Geeks,” “Undeclared” and “Doctor Who.” “It’s easier to watch [on Netflix] than record something on TV and make the time to watch it.

Now I’ve gotta admit. This really made me smile. A new generation – my grandchildren’s generation – seeing shows I wrote, like CANNON (that’s the star,  Bill Conrad, above), BARNABY JONES, POLICE WOMAN, POLICE STORY, IRONSIDE, MEDICAL CENTER, MEDICAL STORY, THE BOLD ONES, THE FALL GUY, MIKE HAMMER, MAN UNDERCOVER, WALKER TEXAS RANGER, HAWAII FIVE-0, THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO, THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, and even more.

Now theywould understand what I did all day and night all those years. Now they would appreciate the talent and effort of the Old Brode. Life doesn’t get any better than this, right?

But then I watched a few old episodes…and my happy fantasy started corroding.

After all, those shows, from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and even ’90s are a whole different thing from most episodic shows today. For the most part, instead of featuring the titular heroes, they’re really about the villains, with the guest stars getting as much air time as the recurring stars, and sometimes even more.

And the talk! The characters in 20th Century television have this habit of yakking, yakking, yakking. Confiding their hopes and dreams, planning their diabolical crimes, declaring their love, avowing their principles. No one on TV does that anymore. They just exchange significant looks and we all know what they mean.

Visually everything’s different too. The colors are brighter. A huge majority of the scenes take place during the day. And instead of just popping from place to place, the characters would actually get into their cars and drive there…and we see the drive-aways and the drive-ups as well.

And then there’s the establishing shots, to make sure the audience knew where everyone was…

As I think about all this it strikes me that while I think some of what we did back then was “better” than the way things are done today (all those causes, for example, lost and otherwise), a lot more of it was a hell of a lot worse. Way too much time was spent underestimating the intelligence, attention spans, and equipment of the audience.

And even more time was spent bending over backwards to not offend anyone. About anything. I can’t think of one TV episode I ever wrote – or produced, for that matter – that had anything resembling a sex scene. And it was a huge breakthrough in the early ’70s when POLICE STORY actually showed one of its heroes cohabiting a bed with a woman who wasn’t his wife. And he doesn’t burn in hell for it or anything! (Man, did we have to fight for that one.)

What if my shows can’t pass the tst of time? What if my grandkids don’t like what they see? What if they can’t even bring themselves to sit through more than the credits?

What if I go from being the highly respected and slightly serious Old Crank I am today to just another airhead who’s nowhere near as hot as he thinks?

Curse you, Netflix!

Damn you, Hulu!

What happened to “here today, gone tomorrow?” This stuff wasn’t made to stick around.

I’m more insecure about my old output now than I was back in the day.

See what you all have to look forward to when your careers catch on?