Not all TV is classic TV
I have often said that all television falls into two categories, good and bad. However, I have recently discovered that television can also be categorized as classic and non-classic. But there's a catch.
When I was growing up, there wasn't a lot of good TV due to the fact that there were only three networks (four if you count PBS, which I certainly didn't). Consequently, local affiliates had no choice but to fill their daytime schedules with reruns of popular sitcoms like The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island and The Monkees. These shows and shows like them have become classics almost by default. Bottom line: when an entire generation can sing the theme song of a show, it's a classic.
When cable came along, everything changed. The pressure was off the local affiliates, because there was more competition. I mean, how can Bill Kennedy at the Movies on WXYZ in Detroit compete with 24 hours of music videos on MTV? The phenomenon of cable raised the bar for classic TV.
Then came Nick at Nite. In the beginning, it was a godsend. Not only could I watch the shows I grew up with (Welcome Back, Kotter, Happy Days, Mork & Mindy) but I also got to see a lot of shows that were before my time (Dragnet, Route 66, Get Smart). I was in heaven. It was like a whole new world of television had opened up to me, a world I had only heard about from my mom and dad. In those good old days, anything shown on Nick at Nite was automatically deemed classic TV.
In the late '90's, Nickelodeon made an announcement that had TV nerds like myself weeping tears of joy. They announced TV Land, a 24-hour network showing nothing but classic television. I couldn't believe it. A friend of mine got me into the launch party for the network and I will never forget it. I met Donna Douglas, Ruth Buzzi, Steven Bochco, and Gary Coleman and danced to KC and the Sunshine Band till they threw me out for trying to take more than my share of gift bags. The day of the true TV fan had arrived ... life was good
Then something strange happened. TV Land ran out of programs to show. I know it sounds strange. How could they run out? Classic TV is around forever, right? Well, for some reason, TV Land decided that their current line of classics weren't appealing enough, so they had to branch out and grab some younger viewers with a whole new line-up of "classics." Shows like Head of The Class, Wings and Full House started showing up on TV Land's schedule. Also, right around this time collections of TV shows became much more accessible because of the invention of the DVD. The DVD along with the "new" TV Land proceeded to lower the bar of classic TV to a new low, roughly about ankle level.
Just because you grew up loving a TV show doesn't make it a classic. I don't care how often you roared with laughter when Tim Allen "oinked" at the camera, Home Improvement does not make the cut. Classic television does more than bring back memories of sleepovers and crank calls. It is television that appeals to multiple generations (Green Acres, The Munsters), television that parents can enjoy with their children (Leave it to Beaver, Lassie), and most importantly, television that refuses to be remade into a popular feature film (Bewitched, The Honeymooners).
So before I wrap this up, I'd like to give you readers a little primer on what is classic TV and what isn't classic television
CLASSIC: Mary Tyler Moore, Soap, Taxi, The Bob Newhart Show, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, The Odd Couple, The White Shadow, All in the Family
NON-CLASSIC: Too Close for Comfort, Benson, Who's the Boss, Bob, Bay City Blues, Doogie Howser MD, The New Odd Couple, Coach, Gloria
Keep in mind, this is just a partial list and I'm sure many of you will have your own to add, so, in closing, let the comments begin.