On The Silly Side by Jimmy Del Ponte
(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)
“Stop spinning that dial!” Remember when you had to actually get up and walk over to the TV to change the channel? I remember my little brother sitting in front of the new TV at 5 a.m. waiting for the programs to begin. Santa brought the family our first color TV and all that was on that early were test patterns. The TV came from Lechmere Sales in Cambridge and it replaced our big, old black and white Admiral television set.
When we were young kids, everything was in black and white. Westerns, crime dramas, sit-coms, news and even cartoons were black and white. When color came along it was like Dorothy first entering Oz. Everything was beautiful. But we were still glued to the TV when it was all black and white. All three channels!
The first shows I remember watching when I was a kid was Captain Kangaroo. Bunny Rabbit, Dancing Bear, Mister Moose and Mr. Green Jeans entertained us starting in 1955. We never thought that it was funny that Mr. Green Jeans was actually Mr. Grey Jeans. The Flintstones came along in 1960 and I have a Winston cigarette commercial in a DVD collection. It shows Fred and Barney smoking Winstons and talking about the flavor, richness, etc. Cartoon characters who now endorse kid’s cereal were hawking butts. We’ve come a long way, baby!
Superman with George Reeve debuted in 1952 and was filmed in black and white until 1954. If you look closely to the flying scenes, you can see a flat section on Superman’s stomach area from where he was lying on a platform. It was like a new world when we finally got to see the color versions that they didn’t show on TV until 1965. The color episodes blew the black and white ones away but black and white was fine with us.
Here they come! Some of our favorite black and white shows were The Dick Van Dyke Show, Dark Shadows, Dragnet, Twilight Zone, The Munsters, Mr. Ed, I Love Lucy, Dragnet, The Untouchables, The Three Stooges, Abbott and Costello, My Favorite Martian, Gunsmoke, Lost In Space, The Twilight Zone, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, I Dream Of Jeannie, The Andy Griffith Show, Car 54 Where Are You?, Sgt. Bilko, The Lone Ranger, Sky King, Sea Hunt, The Addams Family, The Honeymooners, Cisco Kid, Zorro, Lassie, RinTinTin, My Friend Flicka, Rawhide, Combat, The Rifleman, Leave it to Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet, Burns and Allen, Huntley and Brinkley, The Wild Wild West, Burke’s Law, Hogan’s Heroes, Peter Gunn (great theme song!), The Fugitive, Perry Mason (although the theme song was creepy), Dr. Kildare and Ben Casey, Peyton Place, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Mr. Rogers, My Three Sons, all cartoons, Patty Duke, The Ed Sullivan Show, Secret Agent (cool theme song!), Dobie Gillis, Gilligan’s Island, Bonanza, Father Knows Best, Make Room For Daddy, Mission Impossible, The Outer Limits, Laurel And Hardy, all the old soap operas that our moms watched religiously, and The Little Rascals. We also watched a lot of game shows and quiz shows like What’s My Line, and Password.
In Boston we had our locally produced shows like Major Mudd, Romper Room, Big Brother, Bob Emery (which my sister and I were on), and of course Rex Trailer’s Boomtown.
We now have hundreds of channels to choose from in all sorts of cable packages. I remember when Channel 56 and 38 came along. It was a pain trying to tune in those stations but they offered us two more channels. We had 2, 4, 5, 7 and now 38 and 56! UHF and VHF. I never knew which was which. Man, we were really living it up! Oh, by the way, you can see a lot of great locally produced shows on our own Somerville cable channels.
Sadly, I just glanced over to the MSN homepage and saw that George Lindsay, who played Gomer Pyle’s cousin Goober on The Andy Griffith Show, passed away at the age of 76. Remember his bad imitation of Cary Grant? “Judy, Judy, Judy.” Rest in peace cousin Goober.
We can still see some of our favorite shows on cable. With Mother’s Day on Sunday, I will leave you with two shows that featured moms. Who can forget The Donna Reed Show, and who can remember My Mother The Car?
Reaching For the Stars singing competition will start auditioning Thursday night at The Armory on Highland Ave. Auditions will continue May 17, 24, and 31. $500 top cash plus recording studio time, and other great runner up prizes. A $30 one-time audition fee will be charged.
Auditions start at 6:30 p.m. Prepare a (no longer than) 90 second a cappella song and good luck. More info at www.artsatthearmory.org.