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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Other Topics  |  Television  |  1960s - TV's Golden Era?? « previous next »
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Author Topic: 1960s - TV's Golden Era??  (Read 4715 times)
JaseSF
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« on: March 05, 2008, 12:39:54 AM »

Was TV ever better than in the 1960s? I didn't grow up in that era but all I've discovered and heard about since makes me think it must have been so. Maybe it was the newness of television that people were willing to take more chances on stuff. Who knows? Whatever the case, can you imagine some TV channel today devoted to shows that started or came out in the 1960s? Just imagine: The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Star Trek, The Fugitive, The Addams Family, The Munsters, Batman, Bewitched, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Dark Shadows, Doctor Who, I Dream of Jeannie, The Invaders, The Jetsons, Land of the Giants, Lost In Space, My Favorite Martian, Karloff's Thriller, The Prisoner, The Saint, The Avengers, Thunderbirds, The Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Wild Wild West, Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Way Out, Get Smart, The Man From UNCLE....I doubt any other era produced such a varied, long-lasting and often surprisingly sophisticated level of entertainment to match this period.
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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2008, 03:06:28 AM »

i dunno about the 60's alone, but i was just remarking to a co-worker how i doubt that 20 years from now that people are going to be seeking out big brother 5, flavor of love 3, or dancing with the stars 4 on whatever home video format we've got going then.

although, it's not like all the flop television series of the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's are really that in-demand, so maybe it's difficult to get a proper perspective on this. i mean, it's mostly the GOOD stuff from the past that we're familiar with, you know?
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JaseSF
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« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2008, 02:34:52 PM »

But no other decade seems to come close to the 1960s for sheer volume of quality content, especially influential stuff and stuff from the sci-fi, horror and fantasy adventure genres and truth be told, the comedy genre as well. There's been lots and lots more stuff put out as the years have wore on but overall, I'd say the quality to quantity ratio has decreased as time has progressed.
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« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2008, 06:46:19 PM »

yah, but the one problem with TV in the 60s was lack of choice.  Cable didn't exist yet so you were stuck with what few channels you could tune into with your rabbit ear anntenas
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2008, 02:54:30 PM »

i dunno about the 60's alone, but i was just remarking to a co-worker how i doubt that 20 years from now that people are going to be seeking out big brother 5, flavor of love 3, or dancing with the stars 4 on whatever home video format we've got going then.

although, it's not like all the flop television series of the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's are really that in-demand, so maybe it's difficult to get a proper perspective on this. i mean, it's mostly the GOOD stuff from the past that we're familiar with, you know?
Yeh, and it's also worth pointing out that nearly every "classic" TV show of the 1960s that JaseSF named were flops!  Seriously, STAR TREK, LOST IN SPACE, ADDAMS FAMILY, MUNSTERS, BATMAN, MY FAVORITE MARTIAN, LAND OF THE GIANTS, THE TIME TUNNEL, THE INVADERS... did any of them survive more than three seasons (most that I name were only two...)?  And STAR TREK notoriously struggled for ratings its three seasons.  Compare these shows with BONANZA, GUNSMOKE, THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET, ROSEANNE, SEINFELD, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, just for longevity.  My point is initial success is not indicative of staying power. 
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2008, 03:25:58 PM »

yah, but the one problem with TV in the 60s was lack of choice.  Cable didn't exist yet so you were stuck with what few channels you could tune into with your rabbit ear anntenas
Not true; Cable television has been around almost as long as broadcast television as a by-subscription option, though mostly in the early days, in areas were reception was poor.  And an evening reviewing the "200 plus" channels (or whatever the claim is) by my provider (actually satellite) these days yields little "choice." 
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« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2008, 12:49:07 AM »

You make some great points allhallowsday as I've come to expect from you...obviously you're right that most of them were flops (although a few I'd argue were not: Bewitched, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Wild Wild West, Twilight Zone, Avengers and Doctor Who lasted quite some time, especially that last title there). What I find compelling is that even the flops in the 1960s often seemed entertaining and in many cases downright daring. It seems to me that producers were willing to take more chances in those days... and the stories just seem more interesting. Of course the huge amount of great and very talented character actors available no doubt was a large part of that too.

And maybe it's just that so much of today's good stuff is buried under mounds and mounds of stuff that's much less compelling. There's too much reality, game show and talk show tv cluttering up the airwaves nowadays seems to me and I really wish more of the classics would get some airtime even if it was at all hours of the morning. Sadly Paid Advertising TV seems to have pretty much done away with that element.
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« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2008, 06:03:31 AM »

I recall very few shows from my early childhood in the sixties...I mean-I I was born in '62...what I do remember...(and these went into rerun through various uhf channels through the '70's).

 I recall from the 60's-
ED SULLIVAN-My dad loved this show....lotsa music and jugglers and some guy and his monkeys...!!!
DRAGNET-basicly...I watched what Dad watched....I liked this one too.
ANDY GRIFFITH,GOMER PYLE<MAYBERRY RFD,BEVERLY HILLBILLIES,GREEN ACRES....Dad like all them 'rural' comedy type programs and...HEE HAW.
the JACKIE GLEASON HOUR,DEAN MARTIN,and other variety shows....oh yeah...ROWAN and MARTIN'S LAFF-IN..(saw parts of a  week-end marathon some years back on TV Land of this...has NOT aged well!!!),the SMOTHERS BROTHERS(ugh!),

Ma liked the LUCY SHOW...and old Little Rascal shorts and old movies.She LOVED Shirley Temple.
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« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2008, 07:19:59 PM »

...obviously you're right that most of them were flops (although a few I'd argue were not: Bewitched, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Wild Wild West, Twilight Zone, Avengers and Doctor Who lasted quite some time, especially that last title there)...
Well, "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and "The Wild Wild West" lasted four seasons, which I suppose is a measure of success.  "Bewitched" was certainly a huge success.  I don't count "The Avengers" or "Doctor Who" since these British productions were shown in syndication in the USA, and that's a whole 'nother market (who didn't watch "The Avengers" on Sunday afternoons???) 
Y'know, I never did answer your initial question, so now I will: Was TV ever better than in the 60s?  No.   Thumbup
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« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2008, 09:53:39 PM »

Quality wise yes I prefer the 1960s all the way.

But from a technical perspective and in terms of overall success, it is perhaps true that the later decades proved more of a success. The 1960s shows are the ones I'm most likely to rewatch again and again. Not to say that there's not some exceptions. For example I loved Kolchak and The Hulk in the 70s, enjoyed Three's Company and All in the Family in terms of comedy as well as shows like WKRP and Welcome Back Kotter, in the late 80s, early 90s we got the Simpsons (certainly one of TV's biggest successes), in the 90s Seinfeld was a huge success and then there's shows like E.R. and The X-Files which certainly had long runs on the airwaves.  Perhaps I'm just jaded to prefer the 1960s the same way I prefer movies made before the 1970s? I actually wasn't even born until 1973 so I didn't grow up with this stuff. I just find I love it. Doctor Who. The Avengers. The Prisoner. The Outer Limits. The Twilight Zone. Star Trek. Bewitched. The Munsters. The Wild Wild West. The Fugitive. Boris Karloff's Thriller.  Actually I like most stuff I've seen from the 1950s era too such as Adventures of Superman and Tales of Tomorrow. I have a job thinking of much I really liked in the 1980s in terms of TV aside from that era's music videos. There's nothing new I like as much as any of that stuff aside perhaps from the new take on Doctor Who and its spin-off Torchwood and I find I'm far more likely to watch those on DVD than when they air on TV.
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« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2008, 01:01:06 PM »

I don't want to sound like a snob,especially on a B movie forum, but I was watching a PBS special the other day about the Pioneers of Television. Back in the day the film industry felt it was in stiff competition with the new medium of television and experienced directors,writers and other creators would sometimes advise the young up and coming creators to get into television if they wanted a real future. Directors like John Frankenheimer and Robert Altman got their start in tv along with tons of actors like Clint Eastwood.  Some of these folks said that they felt television declined in part because the advertisers wanted to dumb it down for "the Masses".  Anesthetizing crap is probably easier for the networks to produce and the bulk of tv's audience to digest.
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« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2010, 04:24:39 PM »

We used to have two antianes one had this derection device you could operate this gizmo and this small electric motor would move the antanue in a different derection
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« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2010, 03:33:53 PM »

I don't know whether the '60's was TV's Golden Era or not, but I do know that it was a great era for two things.

(1) Was the TV villain, as here are some of my favorite TV shows, that (IMHO) featured some of the greatest TV villains ever seen on TV.

"Batman"
"Burke's Law"
"Columbo: Prescription Murder," which would give rise to the later "Columbo" TV series.
"Jonny Quest"
"The Lone Ranger" (the animated series)
"The Wild, Wild West"

(2) And even more so, the animated TV series, non-Disney. And here are some of my favorite animated TV shows from that era.

"Beany and Cecil"
"The Dudley Do-Right Show"
"The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo"
"The Flintstones"
"George of the Jungle"
"Hoppity Hooper"
"Jonny Quest"
"Journey to the Center of the Earth"
"The Lone Ranger"
"Mighty Heroes"
"The Pink Panther Show"
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« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2010, 09:32:39 AM »

True, the great thing about television in the 60s was the diversity. The industry wasn't afraid to try anything and everthing, and since television was a relatively new medium, they hadn't quite nailed down that success formula of finding something that pleases the most people for the least money and beating the crap out of it. They were still figuring out their audience, so we got something for everybody. Sitcoms that were set in places as diverse as a little podunk town, a desert island and a German POW camp. Situation comedies actuall had situations, instead of a bunch of quirky people in an apartment or a coffee shop.

The real turning point was at the beginning of the 1970s, when demographics became as important as overall viewership. That was the time of the big network purge, where a lot of shows were dropped, successful or not. But that led to a whole new kind of TV, with the likes of Mary Tyler Moore, MASH and All in the Family. You had overlapping, natural sounding dialog, higher production values, and stories that dealt with common topics considered taboo in 60s television. Couples slept in the same bed, women went through menopause, people used the bathroom, and they were concerned about the same things that concerned the audience. I mean, All in the Family (based on a groundbreaking British show) had bigotry front and centre, and an ongoing battle between the establishment and the counter-culture that was surprisingly fair to both. MASH presented a war with blood, in which people were explicitly killed and maimed, yet also managed to be a really funny show. The writing of these shows was probably as good as it's ever been. And then there were the huge television events, the miniseries such as Roots. Unprecedented. Nobody had ever been able to tell a story like that before - turning a book into half a dozen feature-length chapters that told the story over a week. People were really seeing what television could do.

TV in the 80s wasn't too bad, but it was definitely becoming more formulaic, and in some cases, pushing the envelope for the sake of pushing it, in an effort to imitate what worked in the 70s. It wasn't until the 90s that things really went to hell in a handbasket, with essentially the death of independent local programming, the intrusion of infomercials into hours that used to have movies and classic shows, and the programming becoming so formulaic that shows were almost interchangeable. Fox, which had offered a ray of hope when it started, became one of the worst offenders. And in most media we have been seeing a growing realization that you only have to make something good enough to draw your audience and advertisers. From their corporate point of view, any more than that is wasted. A sh!tty show that draws a relatively high viewership is much more profitable than a smash hit that costs more to make, so the networks have essentially stopped trying to make something great or unique. (This same trend, and my opposition to it, is one of the principal reasons I'm finished with the newspaper industry.)

And although the specialty cable channels once offered a haven, they are falling victim to the same disease. Discovery is wall-to-wall shows of people at work, and TLC is the same, except that the people are at home. Channels that once focused on a very specific audience or genre have gradually widened their focus, to the point where many have adopted generic names to match their generic programming. And since the big networks pretty much gave up the genre shows to the specialty channels, there ain't much variety to be had there. Maybe a couple of really outstanding shows.

The silver lining is that between DVDs and the internet, we can watch pretty much anything we want, any time we want, and as technology makes entertainment cheaper to produce, mass media is on a decline. So, we might yet see a renaissance of interesting shows made by people who want to make them, and who are guided by what they like, rather than what gets the biggest return on an investment.
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« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2010, 06:19:03 PM »

That's a very intriguing post Andy. Thanks for that. Very thoughtful. I agree for the most part with everything you're saying. Back in the 1960s, those behind TV weren't afraid to take chances and to try out new and daring, even risky, things. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't but it sure made for some fascinating viewing. The 1950s which I've been watching quite a bit of TV from due to Treeline's 100 Episodes TV Pack seemed much closer to radio in terms of style. It's like they borrowed the basic elements of radio shows and moved that over to television. Hence sound is a vital element in most early TV and honestly it still plays a huge role to this day in terms of quality TV. Sound and visual cues combined can make some memorable moving images that will act as cues to viewers and clues to let us know what is to come.

Nowadays they seem to either play everything ultra-safe by going with a proven commodity and the same winning formula time and time again (CSI, Law and Order and its spin-offs) or going for  all-out shocks and thrills or even stupid stunts to get people watching (stuff like Trailer Park Boys, Maury Povich, Jerry Springer, Jackass, most reality TV) or taking offensive to the extreme (Family Guy, South Park, etc.). There's very little on TV nowadays that's really taking a chance in terms of story, plot and characters. It doesn't help that so many shows are focused mainly on delivering shocks, sex, violence first off and story and characterization second. Not to say there aren't some great shows. I love Cold Case, Doctor Who and Torchwood myself but again all of these almost feel formula, are from a proven commodity or a spin-off thereof....
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