This evening I was poking around for something to watch and decided to check the Encore Western cable channel. Turns out they are running a 24 hour marathon of The Rifleman. It's been a very long time since I watched any of those old tv episodes, so I left it running while I folded clothes and cooked supper. Along about the third episode, I was surprised to see a parental warning flash across the screen. "Rated PG for violence, parental discretion is advised."
Well blow me down. The Rifleman? I mean how tame can you get? I had just watched one episode, amused at the high moral tone of the story about a former Johnny Reb soldier who was working for Lucas McCain and suddenly faced with Yankee General Sheridan, the man who had wounded him in battle and who was responsible for his ending up a cripple. General Sheridan ended up sending the man, with an honor guard, to a special hospital in Galveston to repair the botched surgery that had been performed.
Having researched a lot about this time period and knowing full well the animosity that continued between the post-war north and the south, I found the whole thing extremely hard to swallow. But, hey, it made a good fictional story, so who am I to throw stones.
And then a warning of the next episode containing violence. I found myself wondering just how I managed to get through my childhood unscarred by the television I watched. Forget that the bad guys always lost and the good guys always won and there was always a moral to the story. Somebody throws a punch in the next episode, so watch out!
Good Lord. Nowadays kids are pelted with sexual innuendo right and left and most see more violence walking the halls of school one semester than I saw watching all five seasons of The Rifleman and the countless reruns that followed.
Jeez. Think I'll take a dose of Geritol and head up to bed.