September 14 – TV Debuts

Posted on September 14, 2016

Sometimes when I'm rhapsodizing over how wonderful it is to be alive today, partly because of technology, I mention how good TV is these days, compared to the Stone Ages of television (my childhood LOL).

And when I talk about how limited our TV choices were, back then, and how hokey many shows were, one show's name readily comes to my lips:

I say, “Well, we watched shows like My Mother the Car!”

Actually, I don't remember minding that show all that much, at the time. I mean, I was 10, so what did I know? But the preposterous premise (by which I mean the silly central idea of the show) is that a lawyer shopping for a used car discovered a car that is the reincarnation of his own mother! She speaks to him through the car's radio. I mean...that does sound dumb, doesn't it?

Of course, we were also watching other shows that had pretty preposterous premises – an astronaut becomes the master of a 2,000-year-old genie; a witch marries a mortal and tries to live an ordinary suburban housewife; a klutzy architect owns a talking horse; a reporter finds a Martian who is stranded on Earth (and happens to look exactly like humans) and passes him off as his uncle...Trust me, some of these shows were pretty entertaining!

Note that even bad shows that were
instantly cancelled managed to
sell merchandise!
Back when My Mother the Car debuted (on this date in 1965), most shows filled an entire “season,” and this one was no different. Even though the show was cancelled just a few weeks after its debut on this date in 1965, after a bunch of horrible reviews and ridicule were heaped upon it, there were 30 episodes made. And all 30 of them aired, taking the show into April of 1966. 

The show may even have gone into reruns. 

These days My Mother the Car is rated the second worst show ever, according to TV Guide, but it's still available as a boxed DVD set and on! Maybe it's so bad, it's good!

Another TV show celebrating its anniversary today is The Waltons, which premiered on this date in 1972. It was a big hit and ran for nine seasons and had not one, not two, but SIX TV movie sequels! Even though I watched My Mother the Car despite the fact that it was hokey, I did not watch or even try The Waltons – and yet I still managed to think it was hokey. But the main reason I didn't try the show was that I was going to college and then moving away to an apartment as I got a full-time job, and I just didn't have access to TV most of those years.

At the end of every show, viewers
would see an exterior shot of the Walton's
house, and they would hear various cast
members saying good night to each other.

Just one of the reasons I assumed it was hokey--
despite the awards the show earned.

The last in my premiere-anniversary list for today is the show Mork and Mindy, which had its debut on this date in 1978. This show ALSO had a preposterous premise, but it was so good!

First, the preposterous premise: Mork is an extraterrestrial from Ork (yes, that's right, Mork is from Ork; you have a problem with that?) in an egg-shaped spaceship. He has been sent to observe humans (and, coincidentally again, just happens to look exactly like humans!), but he doesn't fit in very well. Mindy is a human who teaches Mork about Earth and Earthlings and even allows him to move into her attic!

Very silly, but Mork and Mindy starred Robin Williams, and he was sooooo delightful and different, the show was a huge hit in its first season. It even out-
rated The Waltons (which was of course in one of its later seasons. But the network execs decided to move the show to another day to capitalize on its success and ended up making the show slip drastically in ratings. It lasted only four seasons, although it did go to syndication, DVDs, a comic strip, and even a Saturday morning cartoon! We can still watch Mork and Mindy on hulu (and maybe some other ways as well).

Mork and Mindy also shot Robin Williams to instant stardom, but I'm thinking that almost any show could have done that – he was pretty darned brilliant!

"Na nu na nu" was what Mork said has he said goodbye.

Of course, I still relish TV of today way, way, way over television of yesteryear. And one thing that makes it especially grand is that we can still see the best shows (and even the worst shows) from yesteryear, thanks to technology!

Also on this date:

Anniversary of the completion of Handel's Messiah

Plan ahead:

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