Opinion: The Positive Effect of Classic TV Shows

Herbie J Pilato


Has television programming of the past affected the viewers of today?

Have certain doctors chosen the medical profession because they were inspired by classic TV shows like Marcus Welby, M.D., and E.R.? Have contemporary attorneys, or some of the recent past, been inspired to pursue their law degrees due to their love for Perry Mason, Owen Marshall, Counselor At Law, or L.A. Law?

Do families communicate more productively because they’ve watched Father Knows Best, Full House, or The Partridge Family?

How many TV viewers have become scientists because they were fans of The Six Million Dollar Man or The Bionic Woman? Has today’s advanced technology in cybernetic limbs and artificial intelligence been influenced by the TV adventures of “Steve Austin” and “Jaime Somers”?

How many women since the 1960s and the 1970s, or even today, have been inspired to pursue careers in news journalism, or just careers, in general, because of The Mary Tyler Moore Show? (Just ask Oprah Winfrey, Katie Couric, or Jane Pauly.)

Are we more tolerant of those who happen to be different because Star Trek “makes us so”? Have yesterday’s parents developed into today’s hip moms and dads because they reaped the benefits of solid TV watching?

Has the groundbreaking TV show, Life Goes On from the ’90s or the supernatural sitcom Bewitched from the ‘60s taught us how to revere and respect our differences?

These are intriguing questions, and the answers may be as varied as humanity itself. But either way, it's a positive thing to think that watching positive television programming in any era might have a positive effect on the TV viewer.

In the process of watching classic TV shows, in particular, other questions may arise like the following which mingle the philosophical and pop-culture thoughts:

* What if everyone in the world acted like Kwai Chang Caine of Kung Fu, and respected the creeds of all good religions and spiritual beliefs?

* What if all children honored their mothers and fathers as gracefully as Theodore and Wally Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver, and what if all parents or guardians honored their children with as much loving-kindness as Uncle Bill showered upon Buffy, Jody, and Cissy on Family Affair?

* What if all people acted like Samantha and Darrin on Bewitched and respect one another’s differences and concentrated on what makes every one of every nation and diversity the same (our common humanity)?

* What if every man and woman in a romantic relationship behaved like Ann Marie and Don Hollinger on That Girl, and respected one another purely based initially on sincere affection which later transforms into truly committed intimacy and love?

* What if every physician treated their patients as kindly as Dr. Gannon on Medical Center, honoring the independent needs of the individual patient’s body, with patience, compassion, and understanding?

* What if everyone in the world respected and protected the laws of humanity, as valiantly as Lt. Mike Stone on The Streets of San Francisco, Barnaby Jones, or Perry Mason?

* What if everyone who has a job had as strong a work ethic as Rob Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show or Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show?

* What if every true hero understood the power of true inner strength, as does Steve Austin on The Six Million Dollar Man and Jaime Summers on The Bionic Woman?

* What if families around the world were like The Waltons, and gathered consistently at the dinner table, and appreciated every morsel of food that they are served?

* What if we all made each other laugh as much as Lucy?

Oh, what a nicer place the world might be.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS: A TREASURE HOUSE OF DECEMBER MEMORIES REVEALED, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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