It’s all about Me…TV. And yes, Mr. Shatner, that WAS a monster on the wing.

Wing and a prayer.

I found myself unable to pull back into 2011 for most of last week. I was living large and in the past on Me-TV (Memorable Television), the new WLKY substation hit on Insight channel 188.

Whether it was wading through the big hair and shoulder pads of the 80s dramas, the hoakey machismo of the 60s westerns or the slapstick body language of comedies that served to cut the teeth of a young “Saturday Night Live” cast  – I was in no rush to get back to reality shows, celebrity worship or mean-spirited sitcoms.

Sure, I embraced TV Land, the spawn of Viacom  with one of the most memorable launches in 1996, as it boasted its quirky offerings of nostalgic television, retro-fitted commercial spots and sound bytes that juiced the taste buds of the Boomers. Taking its title from a quote from Bullwinkle the Moose  -“Hello out there in TV land! – the network thrived.

As Me-TV takes on more affiliates in its short but impressive existence, I think there is room – and something – for everyone.

What I dig about Me-TV is the genre progamming or what I call “cultural bundling.” If you’re going to be a boob-tube time traveler, you want a smooth flight. No one should have to watch “M*A*S*H* “and  “The Honeymooners” or “Get Smart” and “Rawhide ” in the same hour.
WLKY’s President and General Manager Glenn Haygood agreed.
“The goal was to present blocks of programs that would be appealing  to specific viewers,” he said. “and the broadcast schedule is consistent with that.”
I was talking to Haygood on the phone as  Me-TV was on the box with the sound muted. It was a cowpoke run – “Bonanza” (wholesome), “The Big Valley”  (sexy) and “Wild, Wild West” (warped). Despite the distraction, what I didn’t miss was Haygood’s enthusiasm for the new addition to WLKY.

Me-TV had been around for about a y ear, starting in Chicago and had its Louisville launch on September 1st. And if you think Gomer Pyle is always happy…

“The audience is dedicated and the advertisers all have very positive feedback,”” Haygood stated. “Projected sales of  the launch packet were for six weeks out but they were gone in two weeks. The response has surprised even us.”

Sha-zam!

He’s also a fan.

“I personally like to watch “I Love Lucy,” he said,  “she was a genius! She could just move her eyeballs and get a laugh.”

I confessed that I could watch Rob Petrie trip over that ottoman in “The Dick Van Dyke Show” for years to come. We both agreed on the intuition of creator Rob Reiner.

“We saw that  a few seasons later, Rob had to sidestep that thing,” he laughed.

Haygood reminded me that new shows would be coming in to freshen the line-up as they move through the cycles.

The fast-moving promo clips are reason alone to tune in. Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards, in her Minneapolis apartment, watching Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie in New Rochelle, on a portable TV brings two generations of viewers together in 10 seconds.

“The clips are put together on a network level so you can watch for WLKY to pop up there sometimes,”  Haywood said. There is still some crucial work to be done amidst the “Three Stooges” eye pokes and special visitors to the Shady Rest front porch. “There are complexities with licensing, making it hard to do without triggering royalties.”

Haygood graduated college in 1985, just four years after the MTV launch so there’s not a lot of water behind his ears when it comes to classic television culture yet he did note that a big chunk of the Me-TV audience are the teenagers. Pssst – part of his research comes from snooping on the departed babysitters, logging into the TV history to see what they’d been watching.

As for me, my earliest memories of the family Motorola was my mother tee-heeing through the opening, literally, of “Gunsmoke.” The camera shot of the gunman at the opposite end of the street was framed by Sheriff Matt Dillon’s spread legs. Today, that would be parlayed into a Calvin Klein deal.

I had no inkling of “American Idol” as I watched tap-dancing children and torch singers on the Geritol-sponsored “Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour. Which was a half-hour show but who’s counting?

Lessons in spirituality and surreal storytelling came from “Davy & Goliath” and “Gumby & Pokey.” Not necessarily in that order.

To me, the re-runs of “The Little Rascals” in the 60s was my first taste of nostalgia programming.

Even though I am a between-the-cracks consumer as my cultural timing sandwiched me admist the boomers and hippies, and was able to appreciate, borrow and participate in shows my parents watched when they were young, as well as the zaniness sent my happy ass to grade school the next morning.

My favorite TV zip code? “The Twilight Zone!”  Could we not smell the smoke from Rod Serling’s cigarette? As he lectured us on the value of the fourth dimension, the ash had to burn at least two inches. Who trusts wind-up dolls? Not I. Is there an alternate universe at the bottom of the swimming pool? Hope so. And who can load their overhead luggage for a flight without glancing onto the wing for a gargoyle?

As one of the many iconic actors who debuted on “Twilight Zone,” Shatner’s performance in “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is nothing less than classic. Oddly enough, he continued in aeronautics and got the gig as Cap’n Kirk on the Enterprise. There were Klingons but  never on the wing.

So, go forth and enjoy the past! Amaze young ones with the high technology of days gone by  – kinescope broadcast,  polyester clothing, typewriters, avocado green appliances, laugh tracks, mobile phones the size of shoeboxes. Remind yourself of what it was like when folks lit up cigs n grocery stores, the workplace and airplanes.

In closing, I have a few deep thoughts:

John Boy Walton may have been the blogger of his day but I can’t imagine seeing Wally text the Beaver.

Do friends let friends leave the house looking like one of the Carringtons?

And is it so wrong to want to push Suzanne Pleshette down the stairs and crawl up into those brown plaid sheets with Bob Newhart?

 

2 Comments on "It’s all about Me…TV. And yes, Mr. Shatner, that WAS a monster on the wing."

  1. Mary Richards lived and worked in Minneapolis, not Milwaukee. There is now a statue of Mary tossing her hat in the air downtown.

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