They say “You are what you eat”, but I think a more appropriate axiom would be “You are what you watch”. As someone who spent a good part of their formative years parked in front of a t.v., I can honestly say that what I watched as a kid helped shape me into the unique (some may say eccentric) individual I am today. I would wake up early Saturday mornings to watch my cartoon block, starting at 8:00 a.m. and ending around noonish when the – ugh – more educational programming would kick in. Sunday mornings were early wake-ups as well although the offerings were fairly meager by comparison and ended much earlier, usually around 11:00 a.m. when Batman would give way to Sunrise Service et al. Weekdays, I would rush home from school at lunch to enjoy smoked meat sandwiches (sometimes KFC and Bubble Up) and catch The Flintstones, then rush home again after school so I could catch the big Get Smart/Hogan’s Heroes/The Beverly Hillbillies trifecta. Evenings were, of course, family time – and what better way to celebrate kinship than the NBC Mystery Movie, Dallas, and, to a lesser extent, Laverne and Shirley. Some nights, my sister and I were even permitted to stay up past our usual bedtimes for “special events” like The Oscars, The Emmy’s, The Miss America Pageant, and any of the Planet of the Apes movies.
Looking back over those early years, it’s not all that hard to pinpoint the shows that had a significant influence on me growing up. My top ten…
10. Dallas (1978-1991): My family’s very first commitment to “appointment television”, Dallas was the show we never missed – well, at least those first five seasons anyway. We would gather in the living room every Friday night, my father sprawled out on his big green easy chair, my mother, sister, and I on the couch, and watch the trials and tribulations of the Ewing family. Who knew being filthy rich could be so complicated? While my father would drift in and out of sleep and my mother would tut-tut the scheming, philandering J.R., I rooted for my favorite t.v. villain (and secretly harbored a 13 year old’s fantasy crush on Charlene Tilton). Eventually, J.R. became a mere shadow of his former nasty self, my parents lost interest, and family night became a thing of the past. We did try to recapture that former glory with Dynasty but, sadly, it just wasn’t the same.
9. Spiderman (1967-1970): The show was essentially two hours of original footage re-edited and re-used ad nauseum to make 52 Franken-episodes. I would even hesitate to call this an animated series because, really, most of the action sequences were comprised of quick cut still images or the same six-person crowd continually cycling through the shot. Still, it offered some outrageously memorable sequences (“Hey, that doorknobs a hand!” “Look at the football-helmeted caveman riding the dinosaur!”) and the coolest jazzy soundtrack. To this day, I feel this cartoon is the closest you can get to experiencing the euphoric high and paranoiac low of a drug experience without actually doing drugs.
8. The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971): If this show taught us anything, it was that with a little luck, even the biggest backyard doofuses could stumble onto untold riches. And, decades later, today’s modern celebrities have proved ’em right.
7. Soap (1977-1981): The anti-Dallas, Soap was a show my mother strongly objected to on moral grounds. Not that she had actually ever watched an episode, but the press the show received for its controversial adult storylines was enough to turn her off. And enough to make me tune in. If nothing else, this one introduced me to the infuriatingly unsatisfying reality of “the incomplete series”, the end of season cliffhanger that would, unfortunately, never be resolved because the show had been cancelled.
6. Gilligan’s Island (1964-1967): Whenever homework would get me down, I’d tune into the adventures of Gilligan and his pals and marvel at how good they had it. No homework. No school. No Saturday morning swim lessons. Nothing but comfy hammocks, coconut cream pies, and the odd radioactive seed that imparted telepathic abilities. Yup, I envied them and nary a week went by when I didn’t wish I could be the eighth stranded castaway.
5. Hogan’s Heroes (1965-1971): Holy crap. In hindsight, how incredibly politically incorrect. But as a kid who didn’t know any better, I loved this show. And, more than any other show, I so desperately wanted to see a follow-up special, sort of an “After Hogan’s Heroes” which explained what happened to Hogan, Carter Lebeau, and their lovable Nazi captors after the war ended. Surely Schultzie had been able to resume a fairly normal life after hostilities had ended, but what of Colonel Klink? Did Hogan and the boys end up putting in a good word for him? I sincerely hoped so.
4. Star Trek (1966-1969): Not only did I watch the original series, but I also tuned in for the animated series and bought the entire line of 8 inch action figures (they weren’t dolls, they were “action figures“). One Halloween, I even went out as Kirk. I just slapped an aluminum-foiled wrapped cardboard insignia onto my canary yellow pyjama top with the brown trim and – voila, transformation complete!
3. Get Smart (1965-1970): There are few of the old shows that still hold up today but this is definitely one of them. The very first program I actually taped on the family’s humongous top-loading VCR, my library of tapes contained the entire six-season run. Get Smart, more than any other show, shaped my skewed sense of humor.
2. The Flintstones (1960-1966): At noon, we would have to endure the unendurable five minute adventures of Max the 300 Year Old Mouse. But it was a small price to pay because the “odious history lesson disguised as a cartoon” would eventually segue to The Flintstones at approximately 12:05 p.m. Between commercials for Gaslight Village (“Yesterday’s fun today!”) and banal segments of Hinterland’s Who’s Who (“The spotted owl is a denizen of temperate coniferous forests…”), my sister and I would delight to the adventures of Fred and Barney. I own the entire series on DVD and plan on hosting a Flintstones party – provided I can convince anyone else to attend.
1. Batman (1966-1968): Superheroes, colorful villains, Yvonne Craig and Julie Newmar in tight-fitting bodysuits – what more could a kid ask for?
Today’s Q&A –
Anonymous #1 writes: “1.) I’m wondering something about being a Showrunner. It was my understanding that a Showrunner doles out the notes and makes passes to his/her liking on everyone else’s script. So how is it then that you’re getting notes on your own script? 2.) Will Carter every find out that McKay named a whale after her?”
Answers: 1) All scripts benefit from the input of everyone in the writing department. Regardless of who wrote it, if the script is problematic in some respect, then it needs to be changed. 2) Probably not.
Lorr54 writes: “Hey, I work in that forest! Stop by my cube sometime.”
Answer: Leave me a trail of breadcrumbs to follow.
The First Lily writes: “Now back to Reunion. A mess hall scene with Joe? I love the friendship between all the characters, and in particular one of the friendships I love more is the one between John and Ronon (I’m also a huge fan of John/Rodney friendship, team friendship, etc).”
Answer: Well it’s an episode about friendship and belonging, so hopefully you’ll enjoy it.
Anonymous #2 writes: “1)Will we be seeing a bloopers reel sometime on the dvds? 2)Is Mortal Coil giving you so much trouble because of tangles in the story or is it more just work to write?”
Answers: 1) It’s very possible. 2) It’s a script with some very tricky – and subtly complex – story elements. It’s out of my hands now and over to Paul who already has some ideas for the scenes in question.
Anonymous #3 writes: “Joe, do you expect lower ratings for Tao of Rodney due to the Spiderman 3 premiere on Friday May 4th?”
Answer: I’m hopeful our ratings will continue to uptick and…Spiderman 3? Aw, shiii –
Yvette writes: “Any chance of getting some younger script writers and/or characters for SGA?”
Answer: We were thinking of writing in a sassy talking baby.
Joshua Meyers writes: “ Have you/network/mgm ever considered having sg on another night because more people would be home on other nights like wednesday or thursday?
What day did they show sg1 on showtime? Have you ever considered yourself as a excecutive producer before the promotion and would you ever consider
having a sg show on the same platform as Sanctuary?”
Answers: That’s a network decision. Don’t know. Which promotion would you be referring to? Not really.
Pilgrim writes: “A while back you answered a question where you told us who you thought the SGA team would be if they were comic book supervillains. So I was wondering, who would they be if they were superheroes?”
Answer: Sheppard would be the leader, Cyclops. McKay would be the scientifically-minded Beast. Teyla would be the attuned-with-nature Storm. And Ronon would be the heaveyweight Colossus.
Mary writes: “Do you actually believe in Vampires?”
Answer: Does Count Chocula count?
Minigeek writes: “Your previous puglet photos have inspired me to make a short film.”
Answer: I’ll produce!
Michelle writes: “I second the person who asked why you can’t delegate your soul-sucking script to Brad or someone given all your show-runner super-powers.”
Answer: Uh, first of all, Paul and I may be the Atlantis Showrunners, but Brad and Robert DO NOT work under us. Secondly, if I tried to get Brad and Robert to do a rewrite on one of my scripts, they’d more than likely bludgeon me with the damn thing.