Friday, July 11, 2008

Changes for the Better

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I was particularly fond of a television show called Ironside, about a wheelchair bound police detective played by Raymond Burr. A new cable network in Austin, RTN (Retro Television Network), began operation recently and I was delighted to see Ironside was on their daily schedule. My DVR has been recording the episodes daily and I've been catching up on this old favorite.

I'm thoroughly enjoying these old shows, but it's funny how much has changed in our society since then. And I'm not speaking just of fashion and auto styles, though both were rather hideous at the time. This was the time of polyester and of big boxy cars. The specially equipped van that transported Chief Ironside from place to place looked like an armored truck that started life as an army transport.

But it's the glaring social differences that reach out and slap you. One episode this week took place in a hospital where a nurse stands in the corridor and chain smokes. Everybody in the series smokes, which is startling enough, but a nurse in a hospital corridor?

Another recent episode takes place on a jet airliner returning to San Franciso from Hawaii. One of the police officers is told to go up and talk to the pilot and make contact with the San Francisco police department. No problem. She spent a good chunk of the episode hanging out in the cockpit, which was surprisingly spacious and accessible to the passengers. You don't see that anymore.

Telephones. I watch a lot of old television and I don't think much about the old-style telephones that have gone the way of antique stores. But this show was hip and had mobile telephones in the vehicles. I had forgotten how clunky the first mobile telephones were. Every time one of the characters grabs that car phone, it's quite the visual disturbance.

We've come a long way. Not just in technology. I don't miss the ever present haze of cigarette smoke that was taken for granted in the 70s and prior. I'm glad I have that little cell phone for road emergencies. Thank heavens that the leisure suit era is gone with the wind.

Nostalgia is fun, and it's interesting to take a walk down memory lane. But some things I don't miss at all. And I find myself wondering what the children of today think if they happen across one of these old shows. They probably can't believe it.


1 comment:

David said...

I had to laugh watching "Marcus Welby." He got concerned about one of his patients and just hopped in the car and went to the guy's house to check on him. Several times. Then went and talked to the guy's girlfriend for more info, like some kind of detective. Ha ha.