The last couple of months, Michele and I have been watching a lot of television. It seems like we’re paying a small fortune to Time Warner for cable, so we figure we might as well take advantage of that, instead of buying even more DVDs. Out of what we’ve been watching, a pretty good portion of the viewing material has been reruns on the cable channel Me TV, aka Memorable Entertainment Television.
This whole thing started in late December of last year. Actor Jack Klugman had just passed away, and there was a 24 hour marathon of The Odd Couple on some channel or another. For those who aren’t familiar with it, The Odd Couple is based on a play by Neil Simon. The premise of the series is that neat, fussy photographer Felix Unger, played by Tony Randall, is kicked out by his wife, who has finally gotten completely fed up of his anal retentive behaviors. He moves in with his old friend Oscar Madison, played by Klugman, a sloppy, grumpy newspaper sports writer who several years before was divorced by his own wife. The opening narration asks “Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?” And the answer to that is usually a resounding “NO!” Felix and Oscar are complete polar opposites, and the comedy of the show derives from how the two of them react in completely different ways when they get thrust into a variety of bizarre and oddball situations. Most of the time Oscar is convinced that nosy, neat freak Felix is ruining his life, and badly wants him out of the apartment. But underneath his grumpy exterior, Oscar is a decent guy, and inevitably he ends up letting Felix stay because he can’t bear to see his pal get cast out, no matter how much they aggrivate each other.
Anyway, after watching a few hours of this marathon of The Odd Couple around the holidays, Michele, who used to watch it when she was growing up, became totally hooked on it again. She had me do a search on the DVR to see if any channels were repeating it. That’s how we found Me TV, which airs it every weekday night at 10:00 PM. So now it’s set to record every episode. And, yeah, after watching it for a week or so, I ended up becoming a fan, as well.
We soon discovered that there is a lot of other cool stuff on Me TV. There is Dick Van Dyke and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I used to watch both of those in high school when they were rerun on Nick at Nite. There’s “Sunday Night Noir” with shows like The Fuguitive. I’ve also taped a couple of episodes of Irwin Allen’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea on the DVR, but I haven’t had a chance to actually view them yet.
For fans of more spooky fare, there are Rod Serling’s two famous anthology series, The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery. Obviously I’ve seen endless reruns of The Twilight Zone in syndication. But Night Gallery pops up much less often on television, so even though it wasn’t nearly as good as its predecessor, I’m enjoying being able to see many of the shows for the first time. Serling was certainly a brilliant writer, and he did such an amazing job of seamlessly working social commentary into sci-fi and horror material.
Michele and I were reflecting that some of the best material we’re currently watching on television originally aired decades ago. I’m not going to go so far as to say that everything that’s on the networks nowadays is crap. And certainly there was plenty of awful stuff on in the 1960s and 70s. But I really do have to wonder how many shows that are currently on the main channels will be considered classics thirty or forty years from now.