Sunday, February 04, 2007

What's New Since 1980? Not Much

I called my father today. It was a regular check-in, "How ya doin'?" kind of weekend call. He's 80, so he doesn't get out as much as he used to. The first time I called, he was napping (of course). Old people are like dogs in a lot of ways. If they run out of things to do, they'll just nap. I kind of envy it. I called him later and asked "What are you doing now?" He said, "watching TV" I asked what he was watching. He said "Bonanza." Bonanza! It's Super Bowl Sunday and he's watching Ben, Hoss and Little Joe.

This really comes as no surprise to me. About ten years ago, while we were building a house, we stayed with him for a few weeks. It dawned on me then that he does not watch any television show produced after about 1980. He pushes the envelope a little by catching late-season reruns of "Dallas" on TV Land, but that's about as far as he will go. He has no awareness of the current hot TV shows. He's never seen American Idol or Lost or Desperate Housewives. Don't get me started about any of the Law & Orders or CSI's. He's not into any kind of comedy or reality shows. Jerry Seinfeld? Never heard of him.
This man is a huge fan of Country & Western music. I wanted to take him to see "Walk the Line," the Johnny Cash-June Carter biopic. He asked me, "Do Johnny & June play in it?" I said, "No. Johnny Cash is dead." He wasn't interested. The only current TV production he will watch is a boxing match. Even then, he prefers old fights from the 70's he can dig up on his satellite dish. I am intimately familiar with his viewing habits not only because I stayed there a while and learned more than I ever wanted to know about J.R , Bobby, Sue Ellen and Pam, but also because I have programmed the Wish Lists on his TiVo.
James Gandolfini? Who's that?
Did I say TiVo? Yes, the flip side of this man and his enigmatic entertainment tastes is that he may be the only 80-year-old in Louisiana with a TiVo and XM satellite radio. Of course, his XM is on one channel: 13 (Hank's music no more current that about 1970). At least he's consistent.

I asked him recently why he watches the same shows over and over again and doesn't start with anything current. He said he doesn't know any of the actors. I asked how he can get to know them if he doens't watch. He just shrugged. The other day, he was flipping through the channels and ran across All My Children on ABC. There's a character on the show named Adam. My dad said, "Say, isn't that old Candy from Bonanza?" I looked up David Canary's roles, and I'll be damned. It certainly was.

I wonder when we start to get like this. My wife's grandfather, in his 80's and 90's, wouldn't watch new shows, either. He got by with Lawrence Welk like my dad does with Lorne Greene and Larry Hagman. I have a buddy at work who refuses to upgrade his TV to HD, even though he can well afford it. He steadfastly maintains he's happy with his Trinitron. He loves a good football game, but doesn't have time for any TV shows. He said he keeps his radio tuned to the 70's channel on XM where he can listen to songs by great lyricists like Steve Miller. This guy and I are the same age, so that alarms me a little.
Come see me in thirty years or so. However we're being entertained, I'll probably still be watching Seinfeld reruns. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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Winter said...

I realize I'm only 26 but I find myself drawn to shows and music that I watched growing up..

Seinfield being one of my all time favorites!

M@ said...

I think we're all like that a bit....

Recently, I found a good "classic" fight and routed for the white guy... who was fighting Muhammed Ali. My guy lost. I was bummed.

Anonymous said...

Daddy D's daddy is a wise man ... I'm 52 and I prefer the shows on TV Land, especially the sitcoms I grew up with, "Green Acres," "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Leave It to Beaver," especially.

Too bad "Rawhide" and "The Rifleman" can't be found anywhere right now.

The last good thing made for TV since the 1970s was "Seinfeld."