Well, I guess I should introduce myself. I’m John. Or random_squeegee on Twitter, but John is fine. Since I don’t really read comics and I bought a previously-owned Xbox 360 for $50 that I use to play games that came out three years ago, by default I’m the TV guy. Which is fitting, since I met my wife on a messege board for a tv show. The show was Farscape, which was canceled because a woman named Bonnie Hammer exists. If you’ve never seen Farscape, you’re a pretty shitty nerd, but you can rectify that by watching the whole series on Netflix streaming. God, I love Netflix.
The other day I was watching Quantum Leap on Netflix . You can watch that too, except for the pilot. And the series finale. And a bunch of others, which are disk only for some reason. You know what? Forget what I said before. Fuck Netflix.
Aw, I can’t stay mad at you, Netflix. With your weirdly specific category suggestions.
Anyway, I was watching the episode, and despite the nearly twenty years between viewings, I could remember pretty much the entire thing (evil lady jumper!) But I completely forgot about the terrible remix of the theme song they used for the entire final season, which is probably for the best.
It’s weird what you remember and what you don’t. I remember watching Punky Brewster on WSBK TV38. I remember the commercials (“Won’t you take me to/Punky Town!” That, and the unrelated “Oo Ah Oo Ah, they’re so witty/Talkin’ ‘bout the boys from sitcom city.” ) I remember there was a Saturday morning cartoon about Punky and her magic, wish-granting ewok, that Wikipedia tells me was a “leprechaun gopher” named Glomer. I remember Henry was Commandant Lassard from Police Academy. I remember all this, yet I can only remember two actual episodes. One of them was about the black girl getting stuck in an old refrigerator (which also happened to a kid in one of the G.I. Joe PSAs. You have to remember this was at the height of the Cold War, and as Indiana Jones taught us, climbing into a refrigerator will protect you from a nuclear blast. Just, you know, don’t get locked in, because apparently 80s refrigerators had locks.)
The other one, as described in further detail at Cracked.com was about an evil cave spirit that systematically murdered all of Punky’s friends.
Also, this happened.
Incidentally, the Cracked article also mentions the refrigerator episode, so maybe those are the only two anyone remembers.
I know for a fact I watched Who’s the Boss? every week. I can recite the theme song; it automatically plays in my head every time I see a blue van. But I can’t even think of one episode. Not one. And it was on for eight years! I remember Tony Danza saying “Mona” and “Angela” a lot, but even that may have actually been a guy doing an impression on America’s Funniest People. Remember that show? With Dave Couiler and Arleen Sorkin?
Better known to nerds everywhere as the voice of Harley Quinn.
And to housewives everywhere as Calliope on Days of Our Lives.
Somewhere, a nerdy housewife just shit her pants.
So why can’t I remember specific episodes? The cynical answer is that, apart from a string of kick-ass theme songs unmatched by any other period in history, 80s shows were all bland and interchangeable. Or maybe it’s that I watched Transformers because robots are awesome, but I watched Who’s the Boss? because it wasn’t time for bed yet, so the level of interest wasn’t there. But I think there’s more to it than that. I think the way we watch and even think about TV is much different than when I was growing up.
It used to be that you’d watch something once, and with the exception on the occasional rerun, never see it or think about it again. Unless it’s a particularly memorable episode, like when the grandfather died and came back as ghost on Growing Pains. That tends to stay with you because A., the grandfather was Gordon Jump, aka the Maytag Repairman; and B., THERE WAS A FUCKING GHOST ON GROWING PAINS.
Now, if you don’t see something the night it airs (or even if you do), you can catch it On Demand, or on your DVR, or on Hulu, iTunes, Amazon….or you wait and buy it on DVD or Blu Ray, or watch it on Netflix streaming (unless, of course it’s a disc-only episode). And you don’t just watch it, you write about it in forums, you post about it on Facebook and Twitter. You spend hours coming up with theories about Lost, which you are certain are true–despite the fact that the show ended two years ago—because they were never officially debunked onscreen. You hit refresh over and over, waiting for episode reviews to post, minutes after the end credits. You build tiny meth labs out of Lego and buy Troy and Abed in the Morning coffee mugs. You follow fictional characters on Twitter.
Now, you don’t just remember all the episodes, you know the episode title and who directed it. You know who’s going to guest star because you read about it three months ago. Or at least I do. If there was an internet in 1986, I’d probably still know every line of dialogue from every episode of 227.
Well, that’s my first post. Maz probably put up five more since I started writing this.