March 2014
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Straight To My Head

This brief bit of nostalgia originally appeared on Obscurorant 1.0 in January of 2005 and is probably the beginning of the conceit of the Broadcast Kid. It is a conceit I feel more strongly when I watch my childrens’ reactions to what we call ‘regular TV’ – namely puzzlement that it can’t be paused and annoyance at the interruptions of commercials.

I have lightly edited this updated version.

Not surprisingly, there are those who are startled by my lack of exposure to Little House on the Prairie. Let me explain by simply saying that I was a Channel 56 kid.

Channel 56 was the main UHF channel in the greater Boston area. During the late 70s and early 80s this station provided three vital services for children of my generation….

1. After School Cartoons – In those days every TV station (or so it seemed) played cartoons on Saturday morning, but channel 56 was your destination for weekday afternoon cartoons. Sure, they were lame cartoons, like Mighty Mouse, but at least you’d get your cartoon fix, to hold you over until the sacred hours of Saturday AM.

2. Creature Double Feature – All the Japanese monster movies you could ever ask for, from Attack of the Mushroom People to Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla. I loved these movies, adored them, and a showing of a film like Destroy All Monsters, which featured ALL the noteworthy monsters (Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah) was an occasion for much rejoicing. Create Double Feature also introduced me to Giant Robot, the patron saint of this blog.

(Special geek note: I was so enamored of these films, that when none were available I’d ‘create’ my own by drawing elaborate scenes of battle between Godzilla and a variety of opponents.)

3. Syndication Central – Channel 56 was were old shows went to live on in eternal syndication. The main reason I never saw Little House is that it wasn’t on Channel 56. However, I did spend endless hours watching the following shows:

Happy Days: I think I saw every single one, from the season with Richie’s big brother who mysteriously vanished to Richie’s wedding via phone. I preferred the original Arnold.

Laverne and Shirley: my all-time favorite sitcom. I still cannot believe that Milly-wah-kay does not have a museum or something dedicated to this show. I still love the patented Lenny and Squiggy entrance, when somebody mentions something squalid or disgusting, the door pops open, “Hello!”  Off the top of my head, I only know the first verse of the Laverne and Shirley theme song.

Alice: Did Alice have a theme song? I can’t remember.

Facts of Life: I liked the original cast, which included Molly Ringwald. I pretty much lost interest when the focus shifted entirely to Blair, Jo, Tootie and the other girl. As a result of this program, I still think chicks in plaid skirts are hot. (90s fashion also helped in this regard.) I doubt TV warped my moral compass, but it definitely did something to me.

Good Times: I still know the theme song to this show by heart. I may just sing it to you after a few beers.

Three’s Company: Is this not the stupidest show ever? Yet I tuned in, repeatedly. To watch endless variations of the exact same plot: somebody overhears something, mistakenly assigns a sexual meaning to what is overheard, hilarity ensues, John Ritter does a pratfall at some point. Roll credits.

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