Monday, May 5, 2014

Variety Was the Spice of TV

I was lucky to have grown up during the TV era of great Variety Shows. I liked them all. From Red Skelton to Carol Burnett, Dean Martin to Andy Williams and more, they were all entertaining. Each offered their own take on the word entertainment. To me, there was something special about Red Skelton-something in his eyes. When he was in a sketch playing one of his many characters he truly became that character-especially Freddie the Freeholder. At the end of a show I felt as if he was talking to me when he'd say, "Good night and God Bless."
TV watching got even better as Christmas approached. They all presented special Christmas programming. Each was an event in the home. We'd check the TV listings to make sure we didn't miss any of them.
 Sunday evenings were reserved for the family to gather around the TV set to watch The Ed Sullivan Show. With the dishes done and baths given to the youngest ones, anticipation would build before the 8:00 hour-when Ed Sullivan would walk out onto the New York stage and once again tell his TV audience they were about to experience "a really big show." At the end of the hour, he proved that statement to be true. During the hour that the Ed Sullivan show aired, the one and only phone in our home never rang-no one visited-hardly anyone spoke. There was no need for any of that. It was all in front of us. Top comedians, top entertainment-including over a span of time The Beatles, Elvis, The Supremes, The Temptations, The Doors, Rolling Stones-and so, so many more-to The Muppets-to showcase performances from many classic Broadway musicals-to a little mouse named Topo Gigio who was actually a puppet but became a regular-we had it all-every Sunday evening for one glorious hour we were entertained as if we were actually in that audience in the Big Apple.
 I'm not much of a TV watcher these days. I see the promos but some of what they are producing seems so glitzy. I don't have any use for reality shows and some networks seem to take freedom of speech a little too far beyond the truth. They all give me a headache with their talking points-not my idea of entertaining. So I don't watch any of it. But that's ok. I don't think I'm missing anything. I understand many of the variety shows are on as reruns somewhere in the cable world. I'd rather not watch them. It wouldn't be the same. But then-nothing ever is.

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