In an attempt to fill up the vast, rolling plains of airtime that have recently opened up with the onslaught of newly launched digital channels, the various TV networks have been pulling anything they can grab out of their archives, dusting it off, and throwing it on air willy nilly. As a result shows that haven’t seen the light of day in decades are now turning up randomly all over the TV schedule, often in back-to-back double episodes or in odd timeslots such as 5:00pm Monday to Wednesday, followed by 12:20pm Thursday, then 6:30am Saturday for the early risers. It’s historic TV madness!
One of these shows that has been dragged kicking and screaming off the shelf is that old standby Family Ties, the show that launched Michael J. Fox to stard0m and ensured that we’d never get to see Eric Stoltz drive a Delorean. Ah, the memories! The maddeningly catchy sha-la-la-la theme song! The curiously craggy face of Michael Gross! Ubu the dog with his frisbee! Good times…
But the thing that struck me most forcibly during a recent viewing was a scene that showed just how right L.P.Hartley was with his lunatic ramblings about shadowy umbrellas, hooded eyes and the past as a foreign country where they do things differently (and how!).
So, the titular family are sitting around in the kitchen when Alex (played by Marty McFly) gets a phone call from a girl. From the half of the conversation we hear it’s clear that this girl has managed to obtain tickets for some event. Once off the phone one of the parents (honestly I forget who, they’re pretty interchangeable) asks if said tickets are for Barry Manilow.
A joke of course – clueless parents totally out of touch with the music young people are into, assuming that Barry Manilow is somehow cool enough that their son would be clamouring for tickets. But no. No canned laughter rings out. The Manilow comment is passed over without comment, the actual joke is that the tickets Alex is so excited about are to a lecture by a famous economist.
The only logical conclusion is that in the early 80’s cool kids went to Barry Manilow concerts! Or at the very least TV scriptwriters thought that cool kids went to Barry Manilow concerts. Madness!!
Ancient TV aside, the old black dog has been stalking me quite efficiently recently, to the point that I’d very much like to spend my days curled up in a fetal position, weeping quietly under my bedsheets. Unfortunately it’s been too hot for that, so I’ve had to pull myself together and come into work instead. I’ve been doing my best to deal with it by subverting my angst into fantasies of extreme violence against everyone who has ever crossed me. This is startlingly effective but hardly qualifies as a long term treatment plan. I did manage to get my bike fixed however so I’ll try some needlessly aggressive bike riding instead and see how it goes.
That’s all for now folks!