Christie’s Chronicles: CMTV a welcome addition to TV lineup

Kevin Tighe plays Roy DeSoto on “Emergency!” — a blast from the past for me. Here is he in a recent episode on FETV, trying to solve some problem before the inevitable 10:45 p.m. structure fire. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

I’m trying to expand my television- and movie-watching experiences, but I sometimes find it difficult.

I think it’s all part of the aging process and being willing to invest mental energy that I sometimes lack. That’s probably why I read fewer fiction books than in my youth. My tastes now run more to non-fiction since I have a better idea of what to expect — especially if it has pictures.

I must confess, though, that at times it’s all I can do to read the instructions on a box of Hamburger Helper.

Partly because of a wacky nightly work schedule, I am loathe to begin watching a new television show. Yeah, I know you can catch up with some of them and watch them on my own time through On Demand, but that still requires an emotional investment.

So, often I spend part of my evenings watching FETV and MeTV shows to which I was devoted in my youth. They stand for, respectively, Family Entertainment Television and Memorable Entertainment Television.

On FETV, I can watch reruns of “Emergency!” and follow the fun-filled antics of paramedics John Gage and Roy DeSoto. Like fictional Los Angeles police officers Pete Malloy and Jim Reed on “Adam-12” — a staple of MeTV and FETV — Gage and DeSoto are different from each other yet are like yin and yang; Gage is the comic relief while DeSoto is the more grounded one.

(Malloy is the smart aleck and Reed the Boy Scout on “Adam-12.”)

Assuming I can stay up past midnight, I watch old “Barney Miller” episodes and marvel how many laughs I can get from a sitcom basically set in a single office. I can almost taste Nick Yemana’s bad coffee.

MeTV brings me back to Dick Van Dyke’s ottoman and Laura Petrie’s capri pants on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and, via reruns of “The Brady Bunch,” Marcia Brady’s awards and Peter Brady’s faulty volcano.

One major difference is what I don’t watch these shows on the huge block TV that my parents had. They are, more importantly, “in color.” It didn’t used to be that way. I had to watch “Lost in Space” on our family’s small black-and-white TV. It wasn’t overly bothersome, though, because the robot was just your basic silver anyway.

I also have found that I can use television, past or present, to guide my lifestyle.

If I want to pick up a yen for red wine, I can watch “Sideways,” assuming it’s on somewhere, and often it is. I just have to drink Pinot — NOT Merlot. Anyone who’s seen the movie knows that one of the protagonists, Miles, would have a fit if I consumed Merlot.

I have decided to mentally create my own classic TV channel — CMTV, or Christie Mastric Television. Here I can combine the best of the shows of my youth: Mary Richards’ fold-out bed, Archie Bunker’s armshair, the saxophone solo of the “My Three Sons” theme song, Karen Valentine’s fountain hairdo and the mausoleum in “Dark Shadows.”

I also can run the same movies I like over and over, such as “Sideways,” “Witness” and “Terms of Endearment” — even though, as my husband says, Debra Winger won’t come back to life no matter how many times I watch TOE. (The movie is 40 years old. This isn’t a spoiler.)

Of course, CMTV must have commercials, and my station will be limited to classic ones hawking products that did, and still do, interest me.

I wouldn’t mind the Slinky song (“It’s fun for a girl or a boy”) earworming me, nor would I mind watching ads for Fizzies drink tablets or listening to the song, “It’s The Real Thing,” advertising Coca-Cola. Note, mind you, this is not the famous “Hilltop” commercial in which young adults sang “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke,” although it’s classic enough to make my repertoire.

How about station identificaton? I haven’t thought that one out yet, but I might want to model it after Mark VII Limited, which was filmmaker Jack Webb’s production company. One logo showed someone hammering VII with two blows, to the ominous sounds of a timpani roll. It creeped me out then, and it creeps me out now, but it is memorable.

All this, of course, is just speculation, but with all the vintage TV shows and movies out there, I can just arrest my emotional development even further, although I will always be a bit intellectually challenged on whether an “Adam-12” episode is on a set or on location.

But really, does it matter?


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