The Five: Okay, now I get it
Have you ever come across a show you used to watch as a kid and realized there was a lot of stuff that went over your head? I'm talking about those shows you enjoyed as a kid, but also enjoyed as an adult because they seemed to work on two different levels. Well, maybe it would help my explanation if I just dove right in and listed five shows I loved as a kid, and then rediscovered as an adult. If this triggers any memories, let it all out in the comments. Onward:
Batman: The old Adam West series was reran when I was younger, and I love it for its comic book / pop art aesthetic, kooky villains, and nutty fight scenes. What I didn't realize until I was older was how clever the show really was, and that it was actually very self-aware and downright hysterical at times. I don't know if I could imagine West playing a "serious" Batman, but I can't imagine anyone else in this role.
Three's Company: I watched this show as a kid, and even then I understood the whole gag about Jack Tripper pretending to be gay, and I also knew there was something a bit ribald about the whole show, but upon catching reruns many years later on TV Land, I was floored by how heavy they piled on the innuendo at times. I always knew there was something a bit naughty about the show, but at a young age my brain's innocence filter was still working hard to protect me.
Pee-Wee's Playhouse: If you grew up watching Pee-Wee's Playhouse like I did, I encourage you to check it out again. Beneath all the silliness, the series would also make the occasional wink and nod to the adults in the audience. This isn't surprising, as the idea for the show was sprung from a very short-lived TV show featuring Pee-Wee (Paul Reubens) called The Pee-wee Herman Show. Several of the characters from that series were also featured on Playhouse.
Rocky and Bullwinkle: I'm not sure why I loved this cartoon so much as a kid, because I certainly didn't understand a lot of the jokes. I guess I just liked Bullwinkle's goofy voice. Definitely a show that would portend the dry, irreverent humor of The Simpsons, Rocky and Bullwinkle featured some of the best writers in the biz, including Allan Burns, who would go on to create both Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda.
Looney Tunes: Actually, I still think I enjoy Looney Tunes on the same level I did as a kid, but there's a rich history behind these cartoons, which began as theatrical shorts and later found new life on television. Essentially, Looney Tunes did what their offspring, shows like Tiny Toons and Animaniacs, would do decades later. It satirized Hollywood and the politics of its day. Little kids can enjoy the explosions and crazy characters, but a little knowledge of American history adds a whole new dimension to these animated shorts.