Better Living through Television?
Television means “sight from afar,” hence the German word for television, Fernseher (“far-seer”). Of course, television got its name because of the fact that you could watch something which was being filmed, say, in California from your living room, say, in Pennsylvania. For us, however, television can offer a different type of far-seeing, the far-seeing back into time. Through television we can catch a glimpse of life in times when the traditional family was considered normal, when people wanted to sympathize with comic characters, when people lived in real fear that their world would literally go up in a mushroom cloud, when people wished to keep streets safe for those around them, and when religion, by which I mean Christianity and Judaism, was considered to be the foundation of society.
I have chosen classic American television shows which I believe to be the best from each genre, including various types of comedies, dramas, westerns, science fiction shows, and detective shows, and I will dedicate a blog to each one of these shows.
Best Television show: The Twilight Zone
Best Situation Comedy: The Dick van Dyke Show
Best Family Sitcom: Father Knows Best
Best Workplace Sitcom: Car 54, Where are You?
Best Rural Sitcom: The Andy Griffith Show (first five seasons)
Best Western: Gunsmoke
Best Western to watch with children: The Rifleman
Best Family Drama: The Waltons (first five seasons)
Best Medical Drama: Emergency!
Best Science Fiction Drama: Star Trek (original series)
Best Courtroom Drama: Perry Mason
Best Detective Show: Columbo (original series)
Best Criminal Investigation Drama: Hawaii Five-0 (original series)
What can the modern person learn from this sort of far-seeing? My brother learned how to introduce himself to people by watching situation comedies such as The Dick van Dyke Show and Father Knows Best. I learned many folk songs from watching The Andy Griffith Show. Most recently I learned that pineapple enzymes desolve fingerprints from watching Hawaii Five-0. The most valuable thing that I have learned, however, is that, although there is no perfect society, there was once a society which valued true morality. Even in crime shows such as Hawaii Five-0 and Columbo, it is essetial that the good characters actually know what is right and what is wrong. It is good for us who no longer live in a society which has morals to look back at one, albeit a flawed one, that did.