I have to confess I do not have cable, satellite, or go on Hulu or what ever means that people use to watch their programs or films. And for you overseas readers of my blog, the programs I’m going to mention have been shown here in the United States, but you might be able to find episodes on the internet.
Being an Elder/Elderly Goth and determined to keep some things in my life simple, I remain firmly using the old-fashioned Antenna reception, even if it has gone digital.
Darklings you have to remember I grew up at a time when Television was in its infancy, with programs such as Superman, Hopalong Cassidy, Howdy Doody, the Lone Ranger, Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond, Milton Berle, Sheena: Queen of the Jungle, Perry Mason, just to give you an idea.
And for some reason even today, I stubbornly remain fixed with Antenna reception, I mean why I should have to PAY to watch programs when I can get it for free, something that a number of people seem to forget, or wait for something to down load.
One thing I do remember, I always enjoyed best programs that talked about mysteries, ghosts, and hauntings, anything that was other worldly. It was, in a way, a form of storytelling, and I enjoyed that as well when we had family gatherings.
It never failed, one family member or another would tell something funny, sad or spooky about an event or experience either by them or a friend or a long dead family member.
These stories I managed to write down, the funny ones were like some of Mark Twain’s stories as narrated by Hal Holbrook.
So sitting down either in front of the radio (there still were radio programs going on in the 50’s) or in the evening in front of the Television for our session of “storytelling” was a wonderful way to relax. But that did not prevent us from having family fun night, because there usually was an evening in which there was nothing of interest that was the nights we’d played games or put puzzles together.
The only time we didn’t watch either Television or play games was during Easter, from Holy Thursday through Holy Saturday, no Television nor games, we could read books, but not comic books, I could color in my coloring book, and not until Easter Sunday could games be played. I remember Grandma being very strict, no Television until after Easter Sunday and no radio unless it was on a classical music station, which made the men folk very unhappy, so they would sneak over to a neighbors’ house to listen to what ever baseball or football game was playing.
Frankly I enjoyed the enforced quiet during that time, it gave me a time to think, reflect to even talk to my parents about family and things, sitting out on the back porch looking at the garden watching the birds come to the feeder or taking a bath or a drink in the bird bath, and I still prefer the quiet to this very day.
But what programs did I watch? Well I’m going to focus on the ones that were spooky and perfect for the Elder Goth.
Let’s start with Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond, this ran from 1959 to 1961 and all the stories had something to do with something supernatural
The Adventures of Ellery Queen—there were 4 T.V. productions, the one’s I remember is Murder is my Business and then two others in the late 1950’s and early 1970’s and always with a twisted solution.
Danger (T.V.) this was psychological suspense—I do not have any idea if there are any surviving episodes.
Science Fiction Theatre with Truman Bradley---I loved all the persudo science as presented in these stories, I rank it right up there with One Step Beyond.
The Addams Family---need I say more---there were times when I wished the Addams were our neighbors although my Mother would have been slightly concerned but not too much. She always said that they appreciated family values even if they were slightly skewered.
Outer Limits ---“We control the Horizontal, we control the vertical….”
Thriller with Boris Karloff---“I promise you this will be a thriller…” and a wink and some of the stories would just blast you out of the water.
You Asked for it (from the 50’s and 80’s)- -- “Remember ‘You Asked For It!’” some of the things they showed like a woman kissing a cobra, that was part of a ritual, not fake either. (A side bar on this) Some years later a friend of mine who deals in books on magic managed to get 16 mm film of almost all of the “You Asked For It” episodes, including the one of the cobra kissing woman, he said that a team of anthropologists were very interested in that episode as it was a verified ritual to bring rain and there were very few filmed segments of it and it was no longer being done.
And there were The Munsters ( I wish I had bought the dolls) , Creature Features, Dark Shadows (T.V.), Ghost Story/Circle of Fear (not to be confused with a book of the same name), In Search Of…., The Magician, Mission Impossible, Man From Uncle, Blacke’s Magic, Friday the 13th (TV.), Tales from the Crypt, Tales from the Dark Side, Night Gallery, Twilight Zone, Unsolved Mysteries, The Sixth Sense (T.V.), The “X-files”---oh that was a winner
Of course we cannot forget “Kolcheck the Night Stalker”, everything stopped when this one came on, my Mom and Dad would talk about the stories that were presented and they’d tell me about what they had heard, so some of the stories on this program were based on legends or known myths.
But when my folks passed away, it was sad for me, I became depressed, I really had no interest in things, no one to talk to who understood these things, not even my siblings, it took me a long time to find other like minded people besides my Great-Aunt, until years later when “Supernatural” appeared on the independent channel, then things got interesting with their satiric take on the old legends.
I’ve found that many of the current programs are boring, all this “reality T.V.” is not “reality” to me, but a forced exaggeration of bad manners and manipulation. And the vampire TV. programs, again “boooorrrriiiinnngggg” geared to teens and pre-teens. Nothing I, as an Elder/Elderly Goth, could really “sink my teeth” into.
Since I do not have cable or satellite service, there is no way I can see the ghost hunting programs, until they come out on DVD, and I buy them out of interest. And I can “tear them apart” as well, some of them, oh REALLY!! “Dude Run!!!” and you can see the tennis shoes on the fake ghost on that program.
Those T.V. programs for an Elder/Elderly Goth that I listed were all of interest to me. As a child my Mother never discourage me from anything that was ghostly, she always thought I should have a healthy interest in things unknown.
But Mother always made sure I watched Healthy programs like “Kukla, Fran and Ollie”, or “Howdy Doody” (please give me a break, although as a children’s program it could be fun), but Superman was always interesting and exciting (“Great Ceasar’s Ghost!”), to balance my viewing and she encouraged me to read as well.
My Dad adored the westerns and police dramas like Gunsmoke, Wyatt Earp, Tales of Wells Fargo, Wild Wild West, Dragnet, while I loved The Cisco Kid and Roy Rogers, some of the comedy radio programs transferred over to television like George Burns and Gracie Allen, The Jack Benny Show, Amos and Andy and of course Ed Sullivan.
One show that my Granny loved to watch was “Life is Worth Living” with Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, I’d watch it with her and we would talk about those spiritual matters that Sheen brought up. I learned about Death from Granny, she told me that the greatest gift was being able to die with dignity.
But please remember, television was not the focus of our lives, it was simply an attachment which we could ignore if we choose and there were evenings when we so choose to ignore it.
Those were family evenings, we’d play games, either board or card games, or put puzzles together and during all that we’d exchange what was happening in our individual spheres, Mom would mention if a repair that needed to be done, or an event that was coming up, my sister or brothers would mention a movie they’d like to see or something at school, Dad would be talking about finances (we’ll see if we can budget for it), and when we had other relatives over visiting it would almost always turn to something wonderfully spooky.
My Uncles and Aunts (I loved my Uncles but the women they married were pains in the you know what) lots of time they would talk about my Great-Aunt (whose home I inherited) and in scandalous tones, I felt that a lot of what they talked about was exaggerated. Although there were times I felt that my Great-Aunt was a little like ‘Prendergast’ the character in the Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child novels. And when I met her finally, I adored her, although she was honest with me about her personality. Yes she could be abrasive and manipulative, but in a way that was very helpful.
When she heard that Mother had passed away she was quick to call me and tell me that I was not alone, and it helped me get over the worse of my depression. I’ll never forget her saying to me “One never gets over the loss of a loved one, one never gets over the loss of a loving parent, only through the passage of years can we even begin to deal with it and even then, when you least expect it we suddenly feel that loss all over again, but then my Dear, That is Love.” That helped.
Now with ME-TV and RETRO-TV (here in the United States) can I begin to experience some of the pleasures of those old television programs and also Thanks to DVD’s I am not trapped by the vulgarities of “reality shows” or paying for service, nor cramped by the down loading of HuLu.
But I am always on the hunt for programs or episodes that can send a thrill down my back, more recently I’ve been enjoying “CSI: Las Vegas” and “CSI: New York”, the “CSI: Miami” was interesting until they took a vendetta twist that bored me to death (Yawn). And “Castle” is a fun program for an Elderly Goth, “Criminal Minds” there is something about going into the depths of depravity of a twisted mind that is morbidly fascinating, “NCIS” (the original) while not a convoluted as “CSI”, has it’s moments, I think I love the characters of Ducky and the Perky Goth Girl. “Bones” of course I enjoy for its forensic information. Of course “Supernatural”, but I always thought it was better dealing with haunted legends, going on the Angel course, well I’m not sure where that will end up. “Nikita” a wonderfully dark spy program, I never know what she is going to do next, but it is the villainess of the piece that I like even better.
One program that I had hoped would continue was “Alcatraz” I really liked the dark psudo-science fiction in that, but it was never given a chance to develop and lift off.
I never discount the informative programs that one sees on our Public Broadcast station such as “Nova”, or our entertaining ones like “Life on Mars”, “Foyles’ War”, “Inspector Morse” and “Midsomer Murders”. They can be a lot of Food for thought for an Elder/Elderly Goth.
But if one wants to be completely mundane---“Big Bang Theory”, I have never laughed so hard at a comedy in ages, thoughtful, educational, frustrating with Sheldon Coopers’ attitude, but wonderfully balanced by his Mother’s practical if overboard Christian sensibility---I think where she talks about the Christian Cruise she’s going on was a Hoot with “Gunning for Gun”---where you write your sins on a clay pigeon, spring it and then shoot it down; the “All You Can East Last Supper” Buffet; and of course the “Jonah and the Whale Watching” tour, the program is a microcosm of over-thinking, self-centeredness and practicality, as combined by all the characters.
Far better than that stupid comedy about 4 self centered, unthinking people that talk about and do nothing called “Seinfeld”, I know there are people who are “Seinfeld” fans but if I knew people like that I would immediately remove them from my life---they are dangerous---to other people. The only time the program was even remotely humorous was when the character of ‘Jackie Child’ appeared, as played by Phil Morris. His development of that character was wonderful.
So what will the new television season bring to this Elder/Elderly Goth?? I honestly don’t know Darklings, but ‘stay tuned’ as they say.