Tuesday, July 29, 2014


This will be a one-off, unusual post on SSUWAT, because we're not really editing this to be witty and refined. We're posting this because we're furious, darlings, and if you're a follower of this blog at all, we suspect that you'll be angry, too, once you read the link to the New York Times column which has gotten us so hot and bothered:


That article made us ANGRY. We're actually personally offended by it, because it belittles our taste and questions the validity of same. Not only is this writer an arse, but we're astonished and disappointed that this childishly written article appeared in the New York Times at all -- it reads more like a blog post (we know of which we speak, obviously). Everyone's entitled to their opinion, of course, and what's funny to some won't be funny to others -- but we still laugh out loud at "I Love Lucy," and its situations (in our opinion) are funny because they're timeless. You don't need to be a nostalgist to find one of those episodes funny. What REALLY irks us about this article, though, and the legitimacy bestowed upon it by its inclusion in such a respected and venerable publication, is that it's such a slap in the face to people who still get so much pleasure out of these shows, irrespective of their ages (we certainly weren't around for "Lucy" or "The Honeymooners" or "Green Acres" in their first runs), AND another nail in the coffin for people who are TRYING to restore and revive the amazing treasures in the vintage television vaults which are not nearly as widely known as the heavy-hitters this writer so cavalierly dismisses. The real question is, WHY was this article was even published in the first place? There are people, including dear friends of this blog, who are fighting an UPHILL BATTLE to preserve and restore vintage television, in the face of opposition from corporations who couldn't care less. This idiotic column is just an example of why so many priceless things remain in the vault, because "they" assume that there's no audience for, or value to them. As we said, art and comedy are subjective -- but with 700 channels on cable to choose from, how is a rerun of "I Love Lucy" infringing on this nitwit's enjoyment of contemporary television? Keep your Kardashians and Real Housewives if that's what you're into, but don't tell us that Lucy Ricardo riding a subway with a loving cup stuck on her head isn't still as funny in 2014 as it was in 1955.

Read the article. And although we never beg for comments, PLEASE, darlings, tell us that we're not crazy and not alone in our outrage. 

Our reaction to that blasphemous New York Times column.


  1. It's just an example of the NYT trying to regain its position in journalism by publishing the type of article that you'd never see in USA TODAY. Fortunately, Mr. Genzlinger has the opportunity to watch hundreds of choices other than classic TV, so he should do that and shut up about topics he knows nothing about.

  2. Once I figured out that TV was once again free using a simple antenna, I found myself watching less cable. The majority of time watching cable was me flipping the channels on the remote saying, nope, flip, nope, flip etc. I never stuck with one program. After a depression set in from watching too much hurricane coverage provided 24 hrs. a day for 144 hrs. on a cable news network, I decided that I had, had enough. I cut the cable cord! I now watch free TV and HULU and pay a modest price for Netflix or rent through Redbox. To my surprise, many friends have done the same thing.

    Not many of todays shows capture my interest but, I can always find the latest episode if necessary on the internet. Why bother though when I'm glued to the three hour Brady Brunch marathon on Sunday morning. Followed by Love Boat and Remington Steele. For me and I suspect a lot of others is the fun in spotting a young Donna Mills on Bonanza or Constance Ford (who should have been a big star) on Perry Mason and as the writer pointed out, maybe you'll get lucky to catch a young Richard Dreyfuss as I recently did chewing through scenery with his costar Lee Grant on the Mod Squad!

    I find myself saying, "What ever happened to her?" Then the wikipedia comes out and I stroll into history of the, "Should have been more famous and He's way more handsome than what they try to pass off as such today."

    I suspect the writer of the article is still a twenty something. What's current on television today is their territory. I'm sure someone like me has pointed out one too many times how dreadful the content is or how horrible the music can be today. I get it. Their defensive about it. A good friend said the other day in a sort of sad way, "They have no musical legacy. I doubt they will be listening to Britney when and if they make to prom." I have to agree. I won't be watching reruns of reality programs in the future and neither will they. It's really all about jealousy. We have reruns of old shows that make us happy. They never will have that same comfort.

  3. Happy to climb on board here (note lyric reference to Love Boat theme). I have a year left on my Directv contract and I. Can't. Wait. It occurred to me the other day that I am paying about a hundred bucks a month for Turner Classic Movies and Tennis Channel. Other than those (which I can pay less for and get close to their content via web apps) I'm pretty much a MeTV and PBS guy which the digital antenna can get me.

    And, eyeM8y, I'll see your Donna Mills/Bonanza sighting, and raise you a Jack Nicholson/Mr. Lucky from 1959 sighting!

  4. Looks like good opportunity for me to vent and whine on the forums. Problem with Retro-TV is the same stuff is repeated over and over. As mentioned, there are lots of shows (and also movies) still locked away in the vaults. Maybe it is license and royalty fees plus the time it takes for someone to dig through shelves and boxes of tapes or film. Probably many of these programs are pretty bad and very kitsch (though may encourage TJB to write an article), however, there may be some brilliant works that everyone simply didn't get it back in the days.

    Speaking of old programs, too bad they don't show stuff like when Connie Francis was on Arthur Murray Dance Party TV show because she wore some of the most beautiful dresses, also the other gals (makes today's women's fashions look boring).

    Then we get to movie channels, I don't bother with AMC which totally gone downhill and TCM is heading the same way. Like Encore showing Dante's Peak, do they really have to show Singing In The Rain three times a month? I heard back in 1950s the major studios were cranking out 400 movies a year. Many are probably lost due to film deterioration. Probably many of the movies are stinkers but there may be some nice gems. One time TCM had a group of Mamie Van Doren movies (probably the first and only time they will show those films).

    But then paradigm is either streaming video or getting a DVD. Especially considering over the air TV has become mysterious for many, when I talk about doing amateur television (real TV over the air on ham radio freq), people look at me like I'm from outer space.

  5. It is EXACTLY because those earlier shows had heart, explored timeless human values in amusing ways , respected their characters and yes, were hilarious....that they MUST be devalued now . I have no idea what this person actually thinks. It's likely an assignment they were given to churn for their paycheck imo

    The Philistines are on the march darlings .The awfulness is not an accident . Everything is simply a product today and poor products are far, far easier to control . The producers of these products DO NOT want quality , they both fear and hate it . It must be attacked ...even quality found from half a century ago ...because it's the very concept that is hateful to them

  6. I really don't understand the point of that article. It really should have been titled "Crap I don't like" and appeared in the opinion section. While he is a critic, he's not really critiquing anything. He just seems incredibly dismissive of any show that's no longer in production. I wish he had spoken of what he likes watching, what he feels like is worth watching on television today instead of complaining about reruns. Because right now, all I'll feel is that he's the cliche old man complaining about those youths, with their terrible music, tv, and movies, just in reverse with a young man complaining about the older generation.

    P.S. Anyone who's only compliment to a TV show is how amazing "Boy Meets World" was and is, should immediately be ignored.

  7. I have loved LUCY for 54 yrs and will always stop and watch it, knowing every line and physical bit by heart - even the woman in the audience who will always say "uh-oh" just as Lucy makes the first fatal mistake of the episode. (Was it writer Madelyn Davis?) But I don't seek out or stop for any of the other shows mentioned in the article. If I want to watch a memorable bit from an old show, YouTube often has classic stuff available. TV watching for me these days is news, science, cooking and NURSE JACKIE. I find I'm reading more...

    That said, consider that younger people (under 45...) have gradually grown up with TV shows' centerpiece(s) being a flawed and unlikable person/couple/family/workplace - i.e. people you would NOT want as friends. ALL IN THE FAMILY in 1970 broke ground in this trend, with messy bits of life becoming the springboard for laughs. Fast fwd 40 years. Anti-hero as hero. Extrapolate over time the broadness of the character/relationship flaws, the degree to which leading characters are more snarky/annoying than anything else, then add into this the gradual inclusion of more and more sex. Voila: the basic formula for countless hugely successful sitcoms and dramedies. The tidiness in older material simply rings false to some people who did not appreciate it in its time. I never dismiss all the silly shows I grew up with - many of them helped form me. But I'm okay with leaving them all in the past. Except Vitameatavegamin. I mean, come on.

  8. Vitameatavegamin Indeed...NEVER gets old and I must speak up for Honeymoons ( Chef of the future, glow in the dark wallpaper etc, ) and " Car 54 where are You" ( where while on duty officer Tootie sees Shakespeare in the Park and tries to pull Taming of the Shrew at home )...and that's just off the top of my head

    Why does funny have to go overboard at all? It would be one thing if things were half as funny today. If these shows were as bad as this guy says this "think" piece hit job would not be necessary They were sink of their own volition. Past funny is an indictment on today's lameness ...the evidence needs to be sunk

    The other part of the keening is for how how low NYT has sunk . If you over heard this guy at the next table at a restaurant you'd ask tho be moved

  9. I was extremely angered by this article when I read it yesterday. In fact, I commented on it on the NYT site, and will share it here:

    "'Green Acres' is hilarious, and still holds up today. It was actually very creative, and even surreal. 'Bewitched' may very well boast the most talented cast ever assembled for a sitcom. It was full of great character - and even Shakespearean - actors. The first couple seasons were actually quite sophisticated, and focused more on familial relations (the original producer saw the show as being about a mixed marriage) than in later years when it was more about the magic (which the network kept pushing). I have seen a few reruns of 'Sex and the City' in the last couple years, and although it can still be very funny, what really hits home is what a ridiculous - and even unlikable - person Carrie is. I will stop with my pros-and-cons about a lot of these older shows. My point is that there were bad shows then, and there are bad shows now, just as there were good shows then, and there are good shows now. There are some that I adored as a child or teenager but cannot sit through today. 'Welcome Back, Kotter' is one of them. But there is still plenty of wooden acting on sitcoms. When I have seen Disney sitcoms on TV in public places, even with the sound off I can tell how awful the acting is. I agree with the comments of Rick and Emerald Gnesh and TDK that are posted here. I think a major difference is that years ago the bad sitcoms were often just silly or bland. Today many of the bad sitcoms, as Emerald Gnesh wrote, are full of 'endless crude jokes and pathetic attempts to shock.'"

    If any of you who have commented on here have read the other comments that were prompted by this article, you will see that the majority agree with us. And Todd, I agree with what you said about the uphill battle and the corporations that couldn't care less. It is the same with music. Now that the copyright period in Britain has been lengthened, pretty much anything post-1963 will remain locked in the vaults. I could go on-and-on about how aggravating that is to those of us who care, but that is for another time. However, what do you bet that the Big Four (or is it Big Three now) labels will now be releasing countless CDs of the artists that have been the bread-and-butter of Jasmine and Flare and Sepia and many others who were the only labels that allowed so much great music to be heard again? Hint: Don't bet too much money!

  10. As you mentioned anyone has a right to state their opinion, but what might have been more constructive would have been an article on the sorry state of sitcom writing in the 21st century.
    The vintage shows mentioned managed to write funny, interesting, smart and in some cases charming programs (i.e. Lucy, Bewitched, Mary Tyler Moore , Newhart, etc) without mention of sex or bodily functions. If the current comedy shows deleted these subjects the shows would last about 7 minutes. Yes, there are exceptions, Modern family comes to mind, but watching the shows from TV's golden age reminds you how creative writing can be.

    Sent from my

  11. the writer is a douche nozzle. many were annoyed, here's another.

  12. Todd, you have every right to take umbrage. The article is smug, not to mention displaying absolutely no appreciation for television's past. To be honest, I don't want to watch a whole evening of nostalgia TV any more than I'd want to watch a night of current TV. That viewing era has passed. Anyway many New York Times readers responded in much the same way you have. It's just one smart-ass' blinkered opinion.

  13. Not only am I flummoxed by someone who wouldn't want to spend an hour or two with Lisa Douglas, what I really don't get is the infatuation these days with supernatural/apocalyptic/denatured post-Lynchian hour-longs that require an encylopedia to fully appreciate the labored backstories/subplots/character arcs, which are dissected with a solemnness more appropriate for Proust than for the consideration of a handful of people who happened to survive a zombie outbreak/meet up with some vampires/are rapture-rejectees. Over that I'll take whatever's brewing at the Ricardos quite happily, thank you!

  14. Here is a response to the article from the author Television Obscurities, another great blog that I follow: http://www.tvobscurities.com/2014/07/too-much-retro-tv-not-even-close/

  15. I read the article yesterday. Written by a puffed up little snot who's run out of ideas.
    Hurrah for classic TV and all who defend it!

  16. Well someone asked me what I watch on TV just the other day.
    I told them truthfully, I Dream of Jeanie and Bewitched.
    Sometimes the Monkees.
    Alas, that ended the conversation.

    1. That's too bad. If you told me that, it would have been the start of a great conversation!

  17. Getting back into this fray, there is a lot more retro shows than what are shown on these channels. And there are countless Ed Sullivan shows with many performances not available on DVD or what is occasionally shown on PBS. Obviously you can get performances by Elvis, Beatles, Beach Boys. But there are many other artists and performers. There are people here and there that have stockpiled thousands of VHS tapes that were film transfers from TV stations. Much of these are abandoned (to many VHS is old that means VHS is bad which means whatever is on it must be tossed).

    One such person had about 10,000 of these tapes accumulated from TV stations in southern California. It wasn't worth his time to transfer all to DVD (he probably did many for himself but obviously has limitations). People in broadcast are not interested because they have the original in vaults (which for all practical purposes more difficult to access than Ft Knox) these VHS tapes are not high def resolution, audio is so-so, and much of it is recorded OTA. I did see one of these that includes the ***full*** broadcast footage of when Beatles made their debut on Ed Sullivan. Unlike what you see on footage that is shown nowadays, the show had Ed Sullivan mentioning Beatles will appear after these other performers (it was like building suspense), he then seem to take a lot of time introducing. While they performed (a few songs), you can hear the screaming girls and they would switch to cameras facing audience trying to get a girl screaming. Much of the time they missed it. There were some other stuff here and there I've not seen before when viewing the original OTA footage.

    And then there are countless other artists many forgotten but there is some really neat stuff out there. Hey you fledging performers: Need ideas? View some of this stuff. It's been done before where new artists dig out material 50 years before they were born.

  18. That guy is an idiot and one with a narrow view to boot. If he doesn't want to watch them then don't. It's just that easy. Doesn't he have a remote control? Hasn't he been watching TV long enough to know how to bypass channels he's not interested in? TV doesn't operate for his exclusive pleasure. Yeesh!

    I love some old shows and not others, just like everybody else and even the ones I do enjoy I tire of occasionally so I take a break. But the channels that show older programs have provided me and many others with not just a chance to catch up on shows fondly remembered but also to see ones that either you missed on their initial runs or missed episodes of. I've been delightedly making my way through It Takes a Thief and Here Comes the Brides and loving every minute!

    Again that guy is a smug tool and you are right to be outraged.