In doing research for a newspaper column, I came across the television lineup for the major networks between the years 1970 and 1976. Keep in mind there were only three major networks and very few minor networks at the time. In Chicagoland, we had NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS and WGN.
I spent most of my time watching WGN because it was the source for movies and cartoons. This is what I had always believed, at least, because when I came home from school every afternoon, this is the channel I flipped to. Gillian's Island, The Flintstones. The Mickey Mouse Club with Annette Funicello. But after I looked at the lineup of evening shows, and as I responded so enthusiastically to it—"Oh, my gosh! I remember that show! I loved that!"—I realized I must have spent most of my waking hours in front of the television, one with just a handful of stations and a channel-changing knob on the side. You actually had to get up off the couch and make physical contact with the TV.
Now that I think about it, my parents were the culprits. They would be tired after a full day's work and just want to plop down in front of the tube after dinner and not get up again until the nightly news at 10:00 (central time). An evening didn't go buy that we weren't planted in that little TV room, we called it, staring blankly at the flickering screen. It's a wonder any of us amounted to anything at all or that we even learned to read.
In no particular order, here is a list of the shows we watched on a regular basis.
Laugh—In, Love American Style, Bonanza, The Carol Burnett Show, The Walton, Flip Wilson, Dean Martin, The Brady Bunch, The Partidge Family, Room 222, The Odd Couple, The Sonny & Cher Show, Sanford & Son, Chico and the Man, Alias Smith & Jones, The Streets of San Francisco, All In the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, Phyllis, Bob Newhart, MASH, Night Gallery, Wonderful World of Disney, McCloud, Columbo, Kung Fu, Nanny and the Professor, Marcus Welby MD, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, That Girl, High Chapparal, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Little House On the Prairie, Rockford Files, Hawaii Five-O, My Three Sons, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Hogan's Heroes, Barretta, Welcome Back Kotter, Starsky and Hutch, Barney Miller, Ellery Queen, Kojak, Charlie's Angels
In my house, the TV is rarely on during the day unless I have absolutely nothing to do and feel like watching a little Turner Classic Movies action. We watch CNN in the morning and a little during dinner, but then I don't come back to any of it until around 8:00 when the kitchen has been cleaned and the book has been read.
We have a few shows we watch regularly—House, Dexter, The Borgias, Weeds, The Big C, Nurse Jackie, The Middle, Modern Family. But otherwise, if we're watching TV, we're watching a rented movie or old episodes of West Wing. And lately, we've been watching Band of Brothers, which has become my new favorite thing to watch. You don't just sit and take it in. You absorb it and think about it later when you're supposed to be doing other things. And you most definitely hum the music.
So, TV will rot your brain, and I watched so much of it as a kid, apparently, I must not be operating on all cylinders. Watch it in moderation, though, and it's not so bad. I'm sorry my parents didn't follow that rule years ago. Laugh-In, for goodness sake!