While "Dream On" was a hilarious exaggeration...I was still able to relate to its underlying genius. Specifically, the implication that in the 50's and 60's, TV was a free baby-sitter...and that over-exposure caused an acute short attention span and skewed developing minds, like mine.
I DON'T RELATE ASPECTS OF MY LIFE TO GOLDEN-AGE TV SHOWS. BUT I ADMIT, I DO GET WARM AND FUZZY WHEN I SEE AN OLD FAVORITE.
I recently discovered that I get the "THIS," TV network, (locally on channel 250). THIS specializes in old movies. However, its late-night line-up includes, old half-hour shows from the 50's and 60's...like, "SEA HUNT." SEA HUNT, HAD A FOUR-YEAR, 155 EPISODE RUN FROM 1958-1961.
I would estimate that the last time I saw Sea Hunt, (in re-runs), I was ten. I remember being fascinated by Mike Nelson's underwater adventures and run-ins (swim-ins?), with villains while salvaging various forms of treasure.ENVIRONMENTALLY WAY AHEAD OF ITS TIME, EACH SHOW CLOSED WITH A PLEA BY LLOYD BRIDGES TO PROTECT THE OCEANS.
The Sea Hunt, episode I watched yesterday was good. But that assessment depends how you interpret the word, "good." Think of it this way, did you ever go to a hardware store and see how they advertise the three options for rakes or driveway sealant as "good-better-best."Good-better-best, what does that mean? Psychologically, the store is implying that GOOD - Means, worthy. BETTER - Is a higher quality version and BEST - Represents the state-of-the-art, top of the line. In reality that is not true because everything is relative. So until there's a benchmark to establish how good, good is...we can't assume the value of "good."
In street slang, the word "bad" means good. Specifically, somebody or something that is admired, envied or tight in a thorough way. On the other hand, to a coin collector, "good" means bad condition.
TATTERED, WITH THE ELEGANCE OF ITS FINE DETAIL WORN AWAY, YOU COULDN'T EXPECT TO SELL THIS 80-YEAR OLD BEAUTY IN "GOOD" CONDITION FOR MUCH MORE THAN FACE-VALUE.
So that "good" rake or driveway goop might be inferior. And the, "better," sub par and the, "best," only adequate. I'm afraid that Sea Hunt, for my current sophisticated taste didn't leave me feeling warm and fuzzy. In fact, it slipped all the way down to the "good" meaning "crappy," category.
In its defense, Sea Hunt and similar adventure shows, had to establish a setting, convey the problem and climax the show with an exciting solution...in less than thirty minutes. The job of the writers must have been difficult because they had to squeeze a salient plot, into such a short time...and rarely succeeded.
BETTER re-runs that I've recently seen like, "ZORRO" and "RAWHIDE," also suffered from the lack of top-notch scripts. What made "Zorro" stand-out was that it was produced by Disney and had access to movie studio resources like sets, costumes and make-up.
When you examine the BEST, (my favorites), like, "SUPERMAN" or the "LONE RANGER," the action was so stimulating, that the story, acting and backdrops were secondary. To a pre-pubescent like me, how can you top Superman? The dude could fly for god's sake. He had the full spectrum of possibilities that x-ray vision could provide and represented truth justice in the American way.
The poor Lone Ranger, as great as he was...couldn't compare. To the tune of the "WILLIAM TELL OVERTURE," I'd get so fired-up in the opening credits. But deep down, I knew, even at a tender young age that he was mortal and could still take a stray bullet in the back. Plus he had limited range, (even when he was riding Silver). And while it was admirable that he never stuck around long enough for his doubters to thank him...he still couldn't bend steel in his bare hands.
By today's standards, all these shows had stupid plots. But Sea Hunt had no big name studio behind it and the uniqueness of the underwater peril and fight scenes quickly wore-off. Therefore, without fireworks or bells and whistles to occupy a child-like mentality, the viewer is forced to notice the weakness/implausibility of the script. That's what happened to Sea Hunt. And that's why the show was merely good. It was so good at being GOOD that in celebration of seeing it for the first time in 45 years, I shut it off after ten minutes...here's why.
The lame episode I saw, opened serenely in the living room of Mike Nelson's friend. Nelson is trying to convince this much older diver to retire. With the essence of this man's masculinity and livelihood at stake, an argument breaks out. The shouting stops when a vase next to an open window crashes to the floor. Was this a smart symbolic ploy to establish the ferocity of their differences...no! When the man looks out his window, the scene abruptly and comically cuts to stock-footage of hurricane scenes...duh !
Back in the living room with no sound-effects to suggest such a violent storm is taking place, the older man turns on a transistor radio. They listen as the intensity of the weather is explained by a news reporter. Another voice-over interrupts with an emergency news flash...a local fishing boat is missing at sea. Nelson and the older man identify the boat as their friend's. On his behalf, they start making phone calls in an attempt to help him.
The audience is reminded that after an hour of trying, they are unsuccessful in getting any new information. Suddenly, there's a knock on the door. The ship captain whose boat was lost at sea is ushered in. Despite the hurricane and his ship going down in rough seas, he is completely dry as he calmly said, "I guess you heard what happened?" THEY MUST HAVE HAD A SERIOUSLY LIMITED BUDGET. IF THE CAPTAIN WAS AT LEAST COVERED IN SEAWEED, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN LESS INSULTING TO THE VIEWER'S INTELLIGENCE.
At that point, I shut Sea Hunt off, perhaps forever. I bet "Dream On" only flashed back to Sea Hunt when they were out of "good" ideas.