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Classic Television DVDs Bring the 1970s Back to the Small Screen
Imagine a family, all seated around the TV, perhaps the only TV in the house. Dad holds the remote control, which everyone calls “the clicker”. The remote control only has two functions. One of the functions turns the TV off and on again. The other changes the channels, all 7 or 8 of them, with the click of a button. Now try to imagine what this family is looking at. Can you imagine them watching one of the classic 1970s TV shows?
In the 1970s, most families had one, maybe two TVs in the house, and the second TV was usually hidden away in Mom and Dad’s bedroom where they could watch the classic shows the kids couldn’t watch yet. like Maude or Soap. The televisions in the house could even have shown the programs in black and white.
What kept families glued to those televisions that had only a handful of channels, an old clicker, and often no color? Classic 1970s TV shows, of course. There were so many family shows in a variety of genres.
For families who loved comedies, the 1970s had some of the most memorable sitcoms. 70s families learned all about 50s families by watching the hugely popular Happy Days and its equally popular Laverne and Shirley spinoff. Happy Days also launched the career of comedian Robin Williams who later starred in another series spin-off – Mork and Mindy.
Other classic 1970s family TV shows include The Partridge Family (with David Cassidy), the show that introduced us to John Travolta, Welcome Back Kotter, One Day at a Time, Chico and the Man, The Odd Couple , Good Times, WKRP in Cincinnati, What’s Happening, Three’s Company and The Jeffersons.
Families with older children enjoyed socially conscious comedies like All in the Family, Maude, Barney Miller or Mash. These classic 1970s sitcoms dealt with the social issues of the time in poignant yet comedic ways.
Families also had the choice between several variety shows for their greatest pleasure. Classic variety shows such as The Donny and Marie Show and The Sonny and Cher Show had music, comedy sketches and popular guest stars each week. The Carol Burnett Show brought together some of the funniest comedians of the 1970s each week and The Muppet Show combined the creative fantasy genius of Jim Henson with guest music and comedy stars sharing the stage with Kermit, Miss Piggy and Pet.
There were also a lot of hour-long family dramas. Eight is Enough, Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons are just a few of the classic TV dramas that brought families together in front of the TV every week.
There was also room for crime-fighting and action heroes in classic 1970s TV shows. The world learned about bionics in The Six Million Dollar Man and its spin-off The Bionic Woman. Each week, families tuned in to see how Lee Majors and Jamie Sommers would use their bionic eyes and ears. CHiPs gave us a glimpse into the lives of California Highway Patrol officers. Starsky and Hutch chased bad buys in their hot rod and BJ and the Bear tracked down bad guys in an 18-wheeler.
Two other classic TV shows from this era that cannot be defined by any of these other genres were The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. These shows were where stars of yesteryear and stars of the present day made appearances, several at a time. For years, families have stayed home on Saturday nights just to see who gets off the plane for the island or who gets on Cruise Manager Julie’s guest list.
In today’s modern times, there are hundreds of channels on each of the four or more televisions in most homes. Yet there never seems to be anything to watch, especially something the whole family can enjoy together. Many of these classic 1970s TV shows are now on DVD and can be purchased or rented online or in a store. Why not consider buying a classic TV DVD for your family this Friday night instead of the usual family movie?
~Ben Anton, 2007
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