For Me, the Eighties Means Joel Crager and Michael Landon
It's funny how much of my memory of television in my youth has to do with shows I never actually saw. You see, for a lot of my childhood we didn't get TV service. We didn't have cable and lived in areas where the broadcast reception was terrible at best, so our only link to the wider entertainment world was the VHS tapes my grandmother sent us every six weeks or so. Mostly these were collections of Star Trek: The Next Generation or various offerings from the Disney Sunday Movie. One particularly memorable tape included a recording of The Ewok Adventure, and to this day, the opening title sequence of the ABC Sunday Night Movie throws me into a fit of nostalgia.
Since all of these tapes were recorded from broadcasts, they of course included all the commercials. Our first couple of VCRs didn't have remote controls, which, combined with my brother's and my natural laziness, meant that we ended up watching a whole lot of those commercials. As a result, some of my strongest memories of the mid-80s are of a gritty baritone voice telling me all about what was coming up this week on Hardcastle & McCormick, Jack & the Fat Man, Highway to Heaven, The Fall Guy, and Falcon Crest, none of which I've seen even a single episode of.
These days I rarely watch commercials, since the DVR makes it so easy to skip past them. Occasionally I leave the TV on while I'm working on something else--dishes or folding laundry--and then I'll let the ads play just because I'm too lazy to drop what I'm doing every ten minutes to pick up the remote. But for the most part, I only intentionally watch commercials during the Superbowl.
It makes me wonder what sort of incidental pop cultural impressions will be left in Jason's memory when he gets older. I wonder what we'll watch together, and what he'll only know by name. Who knows? By the time he's old enough for us to want to consume the same entertainment, TV as we know it may not even be a thing anymore.