My friend Jangoz commented here about his family's first tv, how they had one channel, but there was always something good on, as opposed to today with hundreds of channels and very little worth watching. I can always find something worth watching, usually documentaries about war or history, but there is not much on network tv I look forward to. LOST, FAMILY GUY, MY NAME IS EARL, and SOUTH PARK are about the only shows I seek out.
When I was little in the fifties one of my earliest memories is of neighbors coming over to our house to watch I LOVE LUCY on our tiny tv screen. There is a foto of me as a baby being held by my dad looking at our pride and joy; it looks like it had about an 8 inch screen. I guess size didn't matter in those days. Once we moved to California our tv viewing got more sophisticated; ED SULLIVAN, THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY (in its various incarnations) and wrestling were all part of the menu, and I can remember laying in bed trying to go to sleep while my parents were in the living room enjoying THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES and BEWITCHED. I could hear the shows but never got to watch them, as they came on after my bedtime.
One night though, my parents went out barhopping, and my sisters, twins who were eight years older than me, decided to stay up late and watch the late show, and figured they'd better let me stay up too, or else I'd fink on them. I was a little brother, and prone to do this. I think they assumed I'd get bored and fall asleep, but I stuck it out. The movies that night were REBECCA, which I liked and made me into a lifelong Hitchcock fan, and KILLERS FROM SPACE, which terrified me and gave me nightmares! Cheesy movie, but those aliens with the ping-pong ball eyes got to me!
Another significant event was in June of 1957, when we were just settling into a new house, and my mom harangued my dad into putting up the antenna under a deadline; KING KONG was going to be on Channel 5, San Francisco, and I remember him on the roof with less than an hour to spare, cursing and dropping tools, but he got it up! I was six and what scared me about KING KONG was not the dinosaurs or KK himself, but the scene where he's looking in the window. Nothing was scarier than eyes looking in a window at you!
My mom was odd, though. She wouldn't let us watch Bugs Bunny cartoons because she hated the way he'd smack his lips while eating carrots. She didn't like Groucho Marx, because when he hosted YOU BET YOUR LIFE he'd waste too much time joking around. She was there for the quiz, not Groucho! She hated Jackie Gleason, but would watch his show just to see Frank Fontaine as Crazy Guggenheim. And one year James Drury was supposed to be the Grand Marshall of the local Rose Parade, but it rained and he didn't show up. That ended our watching THE VIRGINIAN, which she liked, but she couldn't forgive him for slighting our town.
Nowadays, with Tvo, whole days can go by without the tv being switched on. The shows I want will be there when I want to watch them; even so, often, I just get in bed with a good book and read.