"Book 'em, Danno!"
Copyright © 2010 by Ralph Couey
Written content only
Every generation can identify something that defines them. It could be an event, or an historical benchmark, or the shift of a cultural paradigm that has shaped the environment in which they lived. The Civil War, The Gay ‘90s, The Roaring Twenties, The Great Depression, both World Wars, the Cold War, the list goes on and on.
The generation called the Baby Boomers occupies a unique niche in American cultural history. The Boomers bridged the gap from the post-war 1950’s, through the Space Age and civil rights movement of the 60’s, Viet Nam, and the explosion of the information age. But the one thing that has dominated our lives was the technological development of Television.
Our generation became the beneficiary of what I have come to call “The Instant Age.” For the first time, people had near-instantaneous access to events around the world. Images of coups in small, remote countries flowed to us as easily as did the local weather report. And as antennas gave way to cable and satellite, news became even more accessible. The knowledge about events around the world was just a remote click away.
But television was, at it’s genesis, an entertainment medium. The previous generation, confined to radio, had to use their imagination to invent the images suggested by the programs they heard. But with this new gadget, sound and images flashed in front of us, requiring very little brain work. Yet, the programs provided to us were interesting, even fun. Variety shows, evolved from Vaudeville, were the first successful shows. Then came situation comedies, such as the iconic “I Love Lucy” and hour-long dramas like “Ben Casey” and “Highway Patrol.” As audiences became more sophisticated, the shows evolved in content, color, and special effects. Over the decades, the shows we watched as children have stayed with us, providing the storylines and catchphrases that became the soundtracks and screenplays of our lives.