Screen Couples

We all know them: the Stoneses, the Andersons or the Stephenses. For some, they may be a guilty pleasure, for others a mere necessity to get a story told. For me, they are the cherry on top of any tale: fictional couples and their personal stories. On the fringes of drama, comedy and mayhem, romantic innuendo has always been my favorite treat. From Date with the Angels and Family Ties to Murder She Wrote or Babylon 5, I have a weakness for double entendre paired with a healthy sense of humor, smarts and mutual respect.

Della and Perry1) Perry Mason and Della Street, for example, have been my favorite couple for more years than I care to admit. On paper, radio and screen, the lawyer and his secretary know how to put a smile on my face. Committed to their work as much as to each other, the true nature of their relationship has always remained a mystery. For some fans, they are the best of friends while others suspect some hanky-panky behind closed doors. For me, they have long been married, the epitomized working couple who combines independence with traditional values. And that’s the beauty of those characters and their story. They ignite your imagination and tease you to the point of sizzling frustration with a simple look, remark or smitten smile. It is a tradition Erle Stanley Gardner himself started in The Velvet Claws in 1933 and lasted until 1994 when the last Perry Mason TV movie aired on NBC. Perfected by its signature cast, Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale, Perry and Della have since lived on in the hearts of many fans, the flame of their romance burning more and more brightly towards the series’ end.

Jennifer&Jonathan2) The second couple I have loved for as long as I can remember are Jennifer and Jonathan Hart. Sophisticated, rich and charming, the Harts had everything including a mutually executed interest in solving mysteries. Following in the footsteps of TV’s Mr. and Mrs. North, they dug up trouble where it’s usually hard to find but their love for each other made their cases stand out from others. Together, they were invincible and (much like Della and Perry) have stood the test of time. A mere decade after Hart to Hart was canceled on ABC, the couple returned to television in 1993, matured, refined, and every bit as committed to each other as they had always been. Today, the Harts are still a dream couple for their fans, a twosome who showed their audience the ingredients of true love and how it beautiful life can be even if you are denied to have your desired offspring.

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The Cosby Show

TV classics: The Cosby Show

USA 1984-92, eight seasons, 202 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, NBC, color. Cast: Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Sabrina LeBeauf, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Lisa Bonet, Tempestt Bledsoe, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Geoffrey Owens, Raven-Symoné, Erika Alexander.

Plot summary: A lawyer, a doctor and their five lively children – come meet the Huxtables and their jazzy lives in Brooklyn Heights.

Cosby ShowReview: Since I’ve been looking at family sitcoms from the 1980s, how could I not mention my favorite family of them all, The Huxtables?! Led by Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad, the show was not only blessed with a cast of extremely talented actors, but also with great storytelling. Based on a lot of real life family issues, the Huxtable household was chaotic, lively and full of love. An unexpected but instant hit, The Cosby Show focused on an upper middle class family and their daily problems with a refined sense of humor that put the parents back in charge of their kids. Clair and Cliff, a lawyer and an OB-GYN, set the rules for their headstrong offspring as equal partners who never put their marriage second to anything. Balancing their careers and family, they also always took time for themselves.

Although the show didn’t shy away from touching serious topics such as teen pregnancy or living expenses, the Huxtables didn’t openly address racism but rather exemplified their values to their kids and audience alike. As an African-American family, they were proud of their education, history and family backgrounds. They loved jazz and promoted diversity without spelling it out. At Bill Cosby’s urging, the program was educational without being preachy. The Huxtables and their friends were not defined by the color of their skin nor referred to as anything but individuals. Although sometimes criticized for presenting an ideal that was far from reality for a lot of viewers, the show had a successful run of eight seasons with only the last one dropping noticeably in ratings. Available as a complete boxset, The Cosby Show can now be relished in all its unedited glory. For anyone who still remembers Rudy, Vanessa, Theo, Denise and Sondra, this is a real treat and a grand opportunity for fans to share their childhood favorites with their own children today.

Don’t remember Clair, Cliff and their kids?! Refresh your memories here.

Interview Treats

Many of you may already be familiar with these, but for those of you who are not, I am happy to introduce you to the Archive of American Television*. They offer a variety of in depth interviews with legendary faces behind and in front of the camera back in the earlier days of television. If you ask me about my dream job, this would be it: initiating serious, easeful conversations with the people who created my favorite screen memories.

Below you can find a selection of my favorite interviews, but there are many more for you to enjoy. If you’re like me, you’ll end up spending an entire weekend exploring the archive and listening to your favorite people. Just grab a cup of tea, some cookies and a blanket, then cuddle up on the couch with your laptop nearby and embrace the stories and memories of your childhood heroes. It’s a real treat!

Alan Alda, Julie Andrews, Bea Arthur, Tom Bosley, Carol Burnett, Tyne Daly, James Garner, Sharon Gless, Katherine Helmond, Shirley Jones, Eartha Kitt, Angela Lansbury, Jack Lemmon, Rue McClanahan, Mary Tyler Moore, Diana Muldaur, Phylicia Rashad, Della Reese, Marion Ross, Jean Stapleton, Gale Storm, Loretta Swit, Dick Van Dyke, Betty White, Jane Wyman and many others…

* The Archive of American Television is also on Youtube. You can find their TV Legends channel here.