The other day I was surfing through some channels on TV and came across a local station that plays those old classic shows like Andy Griffith Show and Gunsmoke as their actual core programming. I am sure it costs them next to zero to play these old fossils, but who doesn’t live ancient TV relics more than I do!! So I started watching some of these old shows that I grew up on via syndication.
To be honest, these shows are pretty much as I remember them. They are definitely worth the time to view and are fun to revisit. But there was one show that caught me more off guard than I planned.
Gomer Pyle, USMC is about the goofiest premise this side of Mr. Ed. A hick from Mayberry, NC not just enlisting in the military, but to make it into the Marines? I thought that is the hard one to get in!
And as you can imagine, wackiness ensues.
Pretty much all the storylines revolve around Gomer doing something completely outside the norm for a…..well….anyone and Sgt. Carter getting mad about it. You would think this premise would be fresh for about 10 minutes, like a SNL skit. But the show was on for 5 season! 150 episodes! All pretty much the same. All pretty much funny.
However the thing that struck me as odd is that this is a show I think would never make it on TV today. This show, along with Sgt. Bilko and CPO Sharkey, make a mockery out the military. I mean people knew this was not a realistic depiction of the armed services, but the shows did not deify the military at all. And all of those shows were quite popular. Now, I don’t think any portrayal of the military as being anything but strong and orderly would ever make it without utter scorn from Americans. Not even if the show was pure comedy, I think people would be so offended.
It is a funny thing, we live in a a world where TV dramas push the envelope all the time; harsher language, more nudity, stronger content. And people like it. Yet when it comes to comedy, shows like All In The Family, Jeffersons, even Gomer Pyle would never make it on the air these days. In other words, in some ways we are less sensitive, and in other ways we are far more thin skinned.
I don’t quite get it. Maybe that is why TV drama is in a golden age and TV comedy is in the tank (with a few exceptions); you have to give creative minds room or else you end up with Two and a Half Men, a Roseanne reboot, and something with Kevin James in it. Doesn’t sound too appetizing, huh?
Oh well, at least I can watch channel 117 to get my fill of nostalgia.