Tag Archives: old time tv

Masked Man

Last Saturday morning I turned on the TV for some entertainment before getting started with my weekly routine. As I’ve mentioned, we don’t have cable or satellite, so the digital conversion more than doubled the number of channels from which we can choose programs. It’s surprising how often I end up watching the channel that has shows from my childhood. Or, maybe it isn’t.

As I sat down to eat my cereal, lo and behold, there was the Lone Ranger, and his pal Tonto! To say I hadn’t seen an episode of The Lone Ranger for 45 years wouldn’t be far off. It was fun to see it again.

As usual, there were bad guys and good guys, and then there was the dynamic duo – good, but perceived as bad, because of the mask and, well, the Indian. Yes, I said it. Native Americans were called Indians then.

Viewing the plot scheme as an adult, I realized that everything that was said or done was merely to lead to another horse chase. I also noticed that horses don’t really run that fast, so the cinematographer used a little trickery to give the illusion of speed.

There was also a lot of shooting while riding at break-neck speed on horses. The chasers fired away, and the chased (chase-ees?) turned around and shot again and again. It’s no wonder nobody hit anything. Also, they apparently were using “12-shooters” instead of the more well-known “6-shooter,” since there seemed to be no limit to the number of shots they took.

I remembered that Tonto, portrayed by Jay Silverheels, spoke somewhat haltingly, which made sense, since the character was using English as a second language. What I hadn’t remembered was that Clayton Moore, who played Lone (I assume that was his first name) really didn’t speak any more fluidly than his friend, saying things like, “We… must… go to the… place… where the gang has… their hide…out.”

The mask, the trademark silver bullets, and of course, “Hi-yo Silver, and away!” were just as I remembered, along with Tonto’s “Me go to town, Ke-mo-sabe.” That name, apparently, meant “trusted friend.”

Maybe the best part about watching the show (other than the William Tell Overture at the beginning) was the first commercial that came on. It was from a “debt relief” company that would like you to consolidate all your high-interest loans into one big medium-interest loan.

In other words, I was watching The Lone Ranger, and saw a commercial for “The Loan Arranger.” I loved it! The question remains whether the Loan Arranger is a good guy or a bad guy. We can send Tonto into town to find out.


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Olde Tyme TV

When I was a kid, my family got cable TV. Thinking back, it’s kind of hard to believe. We weren’t poor, but we sure weren’t rich, and it seems like the kind of frivolous expense my parents wouldn’t have allowed. It seems odd that we would watch cable TV on a black and white TV, but that’s just what we did.

Cable back then was not what it is now. Living in Oshkosh we gained the Milwaukee channels, WGN out of Chicago and a few other channels. No Weather Channel or CNN or C-Span were available then.

One channel I watched a lot was channel 18 from Milwaukee. They played a lot of old situation comedies like “I Love Lucy,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and “Dragnet.” Even better, they played really old sitcoms like “Our Miss Brooks” with Eve Arden and the teen-aged Richard Crenna, “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” and “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show.”

Those old programs were great, partly because most of them originated on radio, where writing and character development were essential qualities of a good show. “Our Miss Brooks” was very funny, very dry, and sometimes very sexy, in a subtle way. Miss Brooks was an underpaid high school teacher who tried very hard to become romantic with a fellow teacher named Mr. Boynton, who was too thick-headed to comprehend her desires. Along with them, the squeaky-voiced student played by Richard Crenna, Walter, and principal Gale Gordon, who later starred with Lucille Ball, were also thorns in her side.

Many of those old programs had this in common: a person could really relax and enjoy the travails of the characters, knowing that nothing offensive would happen, including overt references to genitals, and that at the end of each show, everything would turn out okay. Whatever impending disaster the episode had in store was averted, and life went on.

Another odd thing about those programs is that many of them had traditional nuclear families. While there’s surely nothing wrong with non-traditional families, the mother/father/son/daughter families have been an endangered species on television for many years.

We don’t have cable at our house, or satellite. Thanks to digital TV, we have more channels than before, including a few that play old programs. Many evenings I choose to watch “M.A.S.H.,” or “Bob Newhart,” or “Taxi” instead of “Dancing With The Surviving Idol Losers,” or “Miami CSI, NCIS, SVU.” That way, I don’t have to watch anybody get killed or autopsied, and the only people who get humiliated are actors playing characters.

I don’t think modern television is bad. Some of it is pretty well written, and many of the characters portrayed are very entertaining. I guess there’s enough worrisome and offensive news these days that I like to enjoy some shows that are neither worrisome nor offensive.

I guess my process of turning into an old geezer is well under way.

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Filed under 2011