Getting in the Mood

TV themes. Do you remember when they lasted longer than only a couple of seconds? When the sound of your favorite show put you in the mood for an episode of fun, suspense or tears? Did you know the lyrics by heart? Did you recite them or sing along? Do you still find yourself humming those songs while you cook, do laundry or are cleaning up? Do they still put you in a good mood like they used to? Bring back memories of characters once dear to you like friends or relatives?

Today, a lot of shows save up time by using trademark teasers rather than songs that last longer than a mere moment. Castle, Malibu Country, The Good Wife are some of my favorite examples. If you sneeze, you may miss the catchy intro. Sad news for anyone who suffers from hay fever or catches a cold. There are exceptions no doubt: Elementary Downton Abbey or Rizzoli & Isles. I enjoy all of these shows once in a while but the less new programs offer a catchy melody or song, the more I miss that positive trigger classic television used to lure me in. Granted, for the sake of commercials, screen time has been cut down over the years. While a Perry Mason episode still lasted an average of 50 minutes and Bewitched an entertaining 25, most shows only get 43 (or 21) minutes today. So while it was great to hum along to Family Affair or Hart to Hart in the past, it makes sense for Go On to save up time and use those theme song seconds for the storyline.

Although I know the reasons and appreciate a couple of contemporary programs for their beautiful tunes, I still miss those beautiful TV songs that used to stick with me all week. Bugs Bunny, The Mickey Mouse Club, The Flintstones. I Love Lucy, The Muppets, Bill Cosby, Growing Pains. Murder She Wrote, Family Ties, The Golden Girls. Love Boat. Cagney and LaceyScarecrow and Mrs. King. Even shows I didn’t like for anything but their catchy themes such as Family Matters or Full House. Do you still remember your favorite melodies?!

The Muppet Show

TV classics: The Muppet Show

USA 1976-81, 5 seasons,  122 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, CBS, color. Created by: Jim Henson. Cast: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz, Louise Gold, Steve Whitmire, Kathryn Mullen, Eren Ozker, John Lovelady

Plot summary: It’s time to play the music. It’s time to light the lights. It’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight.

The Muppet ShowReview: Julie Andrews sang with them, Shirley Bassey annd Petula Clark. Johnny Cash appeared for a gig and Madeline Kahn. Nancy Walker joked with them and Harry Belafonte. Roger Moore paid them a visit and Liberace. The list is long and colorful: stage, TV and film stars standing in line to perform with the fluffiest gang on television, the Muppets.

Created by puppeteer Jim Henson, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and company took television by storm in the late summer of 1976. Set in the Muppet Theater, The Muppet Show is a variety program for children and adults alike. With recurring skits such as Pigs in Space, Musical Chickens or Muppet Labs, the Muppets put their famous guest stars in the middle of their chaotic show and at the heart of turmoil, fun and drama behind the scenes. As one of the central stars of the The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy is the warrantor for melodrama and jealousy fits, an epitomized Diva whose love for “Kermie” is as tempestuous as her performances. A direct opposite to his girl-friend, Kermit the Frog hosts the show with as much dignity as his colleagues permit and always finds a way to keep the ball rolling on stage. They are supported by regulars such as Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and Animal who each have trademark acts which range from telling bad jokes over doing doomed stunts to playing drums.

Who doesn’t remember their favorite scenes and characters or Statler and Waldorf’s encouraging interjections from the balcony?! With the first three seasons available on DVD, The Muppet Show can now be revisited by old fans and new ones alike. Beaker, Rawlf and Camilla the Chicken are already starting the music and lighting the lights. It’s time for The Muppet Show tonight!

The 70s

On the next couple of Fridays I will bring you information about and recommendations from beyond my favorite decades, starting today.

The 1970s

Fashion in the 70s was colorful with patterns that could make you dizzy. Skirts were super long or super short. You had knee-high boots and ethno-chic tunics. Trousers were flared and paired with platform shoes. Popular colors were hippie rich and often psychedelic. A deep rich brown combined with a bright orange and sunny yellow, or a combination of colors that weren’t necessarily easy on the eyes. 1970s fashion was about fun, second wave feminism and comfort. The music world presented ABBA from Sweden and Saturday Night Fever on dance floors worldwide. Glam rock and punk entered the scene, while microwave ovens became more popular in US homes.

On TV, Mary Tyler Moore had her successful debut, as well as The Muppets. Following affirmative action, Woodstock and the relaunch of an arduous gender debate in the 60s, 1970s television was the mirror of a society still heavily entangled in the Vietnam war. M*A*S*H was a direct answer to the pains and fears of an entire generation, inspired by its preceding feature film and novel. Other examples for successful shows from that era are Happy Days, my decade favorite Hart to HartThe Love Boat, or The Waltons with their rather classic entertainment qualities. New family realities and changing structures were picked up on The Brady Bunch, The Odd Couple, The Partridge Family or Three’s Company, the ongoing debate on gender equality on a variety of shows that circled around female leads. Not that TV hadn’t presented women as central heroes before, but the tone had changed and the atmosphere. Charlie’s Angels, Maude, Police Woman or Wonder Woman didn’t have much on Lucy Ricardo, Donna Stone, Samantha Stephens or Susie McNamara. It was a different fabric these “new women” were made of, independent and hard-boiled yet often sexed up. They were supposed to find their way in a man’s world, no matter what, and their wardrobe and wisecracking attitude helped them accomplish that goal.

On the silver screen, gritty, sexed-up, shocking or taboo-breaking was in vogue: The Godfather, The GraduateKramer vs. Kramer, Norma Rae, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or Taxi Driver were big hits, as well as the emerging genre of disaster movies kicked off by the adaptation of Alex Haley’s Airport. Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of either one of these films although I have always greatly appreciated each film’s stellar cast. Cabaret or Love Story  are more my cup of tea, along with the surfer movie Big Wednesday for three simple reasons: California, William Katt and his mother Barbara Hale. I guess you can see my priorities.