Even young guy knows #039;good ol#039; days#039; of TV are gone

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 11, 2005

Where have you gone Bill Cosby? Who kidnapped Roseanne Barr and her big mouth? Forget about who shot J.R., I need to know who capped Jerry Seinfeld.

OK, so maybe these TV icons aren't missing in real life but "real life" has me missing them. Television sitcoms are a dying breed and Dr. Mike has identified the disease: Reality TV.

And let me tell you, I use the word "reality," very loosely because these shows that have commandeered our airwaves are anything but real. Unreality show would be a more fitting description of the nonsense with which cable has been trying to brainwash us.

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As a product of the '70s, I grew up watching reruns of "Happy Days," "Mork and Mindy" and "MASH." Then I "matured," which anybody who knows me can tell you that the term is about at accurate as "reality TV," to shows such as "The Cosby Show," "Cheers" and "Family Ties." Even later it was "Roseanne," "Seinfeld" and "Married with Children" that captured my attention.

I admit it, I like situation comedies - the more real the better. I like shows that reflect "Americana" and could just as easily be about my family. I don't want to watch some perfect Brady Bunch family. I like Roseanne's smart-mouthed children and their messy house.

Everyone has an "Al Bundy" in his or her family. These are things to which I can relate.

But now, as I surf through the channels, all I see is the endless string of reality shows that don't, in any way, resemble the reality in which I live. Want to watch the "real world" of college kids? Well they have that. Want to watch someone cook in a restaurant? Check. Want to watch overweight people suffer and try to look like everyone else on TV? Yep, some station or another has that, too.

The list goes on and on. Beauticians, models, geeks, freaks and everything in between all have their own reality show.

Maybe real life is boring to some people but I kind of like it that way. It started that the shows featured perfect people in unreal environments, but now even that has changed. The networks try to make it more like reality but it just continues to move farther and farther into the absurd.

Now, grab that remote and try to find a good sitcom. Nope, "Joey" of "Friends" fame doesn't count. I said "good" - as in good luck.

Yes, many sitcoms are out there but they just don't have the same resonance that the old shows have. They lack star power. Back in the day, sitcoms featured real talent: Michael J. Fox, Robin Williams, Cosby and Henry Winkler, just to name a few. Now we get comedians George Lopez and Rodney Carrington. It just isn't the same.

So, I am relegated to watching Nick at Nite like I was an old man or something.

And you know what, maybe I am a dinosaur, but it seems that good TV has hit its own ice age.

Michael Caldwell is the managing editor at The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.