Tuesday, June 19, 2007

YouTubesday: Television and the Young James, Part 1

Like many things in my childhood television consumption was a closely regulated thing in our house. We were allowed no more than one hour of television per day, including weekends. Now like many of the regulations in the house this could be worked around in a variety of semi-ingenious ways. Watching educational shows like "Nova" or "Nature" with dad was sometimes effective until the parentals caught on to what we were doing. When my sister and I could agree on a show we would sometimes attempt to say that the television being watched only counted against her television since I was playing with G.I. Joes and just happened to be in the same room, or vice versa. This pretty much never worked. This jackboot of oppression meant that I had to wait until my teenage years before I could enjoy such classics as "The Dukes of Hazzard" because, lets face it, there was much more important television out there to be watched. Things like "Fraggle Rock":

Like "The Muppet Show" (previously discussed here) "Fraggle Rock" was one of the shows we could watch without sacrificing any of our precious television time. My dad really enjoyed Jim Henson's work and so we got a free pass on this one, at least until we cancelled HBO.

Even though neither of my parents are what you would call sci-fi/fantasy fans I think a lot of my affinity for this sort of escapism comes from them. I can remember my dad reading The Hobbit to me when I was very young and he took me to see Ralph Bakshi's 1978 film adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. Together they managed to take me to see "Star Wars" three times in the theater, therefore it should come as no surprise that I spent more than one of my precious hours of television watching the sci-fi shows that cropped up in the wake of the "Star Wars" phenomena. In particular I remember enjoying "Battlestar Galactica":

Starring the unfortunately named Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict (who will appear later in this post), and Lorne Greene, who for the longest time I would confuse with Lorne Michaels of SNL fame, the original "Battlestar Galactica" saw a theatrical release of the pilot episode in a few countries before it hit TV screens on September 17, 1978. Sadly in its original incarnation "Battlestar Galactica" would only last one season. Fortunately Glen A. Larson was more than ready to fill the sci-fi void with his next epic, "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century":

This show was very important to a young, developing James, as it is the first time I can remember noticing a woman and...well lets just say that Erin Grey as Col. Wilma Deering had me saluting. Apparently she had the same effect on Buck. Don't believe me? Just check out what his dreams are made of:

I would just like to say that late 70s sci-fi uniforms are still hot, although I could have done without the dancing sequence, I mean come on Buck, really? I was only seven or so at the time and even I knew that dancing like that was not going to land you a hot buttered muffin like Erin Grey.

I was shocked to learn that the pilot episode had a very different opening sequence and there are actually words to the theme song. "For five hundred years Buck Rogers drifted through a world in which reality and fantasy merged into a timeless dream."

I think we all know what is what in this opening. Much like "Battlestar Galactica," "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" did not stick and ended up being cancelled after just two seasons. At this point sci-fi television faded from my radar, although I did enjoy what few episodes of "Misfits of Science":

Starring a young Courtney Cox and featuring future "Heroes" creator Tim Kring as the writer for one of the sixteen episodes, the show did not even make it to a full season before the plug was pulled. After this, for me, science fiction would be the realm of cartoons until the release os "Star Trek: The Next Generation" in 1987 as I was not allowed to watch the "V" miniseries and "The Greatest American Hero" was somehow off my radar at the time. Speaking of "The Greatest American Hero" lets go ahead and throw the opening for that one up here as it is notable for the song, if nothing else:

Too bad because in retrospect, while she is no Erin Grey, Connie Sellecca is pretty easy on the eyes.

During this time I was also a fan of "Whiz Kids" another ill-fated show which almost made it one whole season before being cancelled.

Much like "Revenge of the Nerds" and "Cloak and Dagger" would in 1984, this show really appealed to the nerd-pupae that I was.

Wow kids, it is already getting late and I have barely gotten through 1984. I guess we are going to have to make this one a two parter. Oh well. As a parting gift I will leave you with these clips from "Buck Rogers." First up we have Erin Grey and Brianne Leary in a steam room with a rope:

And we'll end with Col. Wilma Deering in spandex preparing for Buck's birthday party:

Was that a condom joke in there? Why yes! I think it was. Go on Buck, drink Bacardi like its your birfday.

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