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Sitcom oasis: Channel has oldies, goodies

May 14, 2011
DEB?PASCOE ( , The Mining Journal

I'm impressed by my friend, co-worker and fellow TV lover Renee Prusi's decision to forego TV. I tried giving up TV once, too, and was chagrined by how much I missed it.

I need the escape hatch that TV offers. Working in the newsroom of a daily paper provides all the reality I need. When I'm home, sprawled on my sofa, I want a break from real. You can have "Crossfire," CNN, MSNBC - and take my C-Span, please. When I grab the remote I'm looking for an engrossing drama or a well-written comedy.

Sadly, the well-written comedy is in short supply. I've tried watching several of the newer sitcoms, but they just don't make me laugh. Heck, some of them don't even make me smile. The exception is "30 Rock," but now it's on at 10 p.m., meaning I'm usually snoring before Alec Baldwin makes his first dry wisecrack.

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But - hallelujah! - along came Antenna TV.

I stumbled across Antenna TV while channel surfing one night. It was an oasis in the bland TV desert, offering many of the classic series I cut my sitcom teeth on.

"The Partridge Family," "The Monkees," "Good Times," "Sanford and Son," "All in the Family," "Maude." Reading the lineup was like seeing beloved, long lost relatives at a family reunion.

I surprised myself by bursting into tears while watching the first "All in the Family" episode I'd seen since heaven knows when. Hearing Edith and Archie Bunker sing the familiar theme song released a geyser of childhood memories. I wished my late parents were there to enjoy it with me again, especially since I'm now old enough to not need the grown-up humor explained.

I was 10 years old when I saw the episode where Archie, bigot extraordinaire, mocks son-in-law Mike's effeminate friend, using several choice insults.

"Ma, what's a fairy?" I inquired, thereby inflicting on my old-fashioned mother one of the more squirm-inducing parenting moments of her life. To her credit, she gave me an honest, albeit awkward, explanation.

When my daughter Melissa watched an episode of "Maude" with me it was my turn to do the explaining. The plot revolved around Maude's being named the manager of the real estate office where she worked - the company's first female manager.

Humorous chaos ensued, of course, with Maude uncertain in her new role as boss of an office full of men. When her authority is challenged by a resentful co-worker, Maude loses her composure, fights back, then flees the office in tears. A bolstering pep talk from her husband and daughter renew her fighting women's lib spirit, and she returns to work, newly confident.

"That show is really funny!" Melissa said when it was over. Then, unfamiliar with a world where working women were a novelty, she asked, "Was it really like that back then?"

Yes, I answered, marveling that "back then" referred to my childhood years, not long ago in the grand scheme of things.

Today's pretension of political correctness prevents prejudices, many of them still alive and well, from being acknowledged, let alone satirized with Norman Lear-style finesse. I'm grateful Antenna TV is letting me revisit my younger years, and letting me share a slice of classic - and historic - television comedy with my kids. No doubt about it: Those were the days.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Deb Pascoe is a Marquette resident, mother of three and full-time editorial assistant in The Mining Journal newsroom. Her bi-weekly columns focus on her observations on life and family. She can be reached by phone at 228-2500, ext. 240, or by email to Read her blog online at www.singlesobermom.blogspot. com.



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