Friday, March 4, 2011

When Television Combined Entertainment, Drama and Decency

No, it's not sufficient to say "well, that was another time".

A television show that so many of us used to watch, like Bonanza, which ran from 1959 to 1973, was not pietistic, but it taught civic values even as it entertained. And I am always amazed to recall when I have caught reruns at how much drama was packed into just one hour! It was seriously entertaining. There was serious talent in the writing departments in those days. There was no compensating for the lack of talent (or just plain decency) with Junior High School mentality sex talk mixed with vile scenes.

Ben Cartwright, the father played by Lorne Greene, may have worn his gun on his hip, as did his sons, but they stood above all for justice. Ben, like his sons, was the kind of man who would save you at the threat of the loss of his own reputation or life (!) if you were wrongly accused; and he'd sadly see you hanged if you were a murderer. But the Cartwright's never gloated at crime or its consequences, and never took the law into their own hands. It was unthinkable.

They believed in stable law, the common law, justice; family; not an evolving wax nose 'justice' which is today always changing under pressure from freak interest groups, but real justice, plain right and wrong, which does not change.

Television showed in those days that it could be used for good, inspiring young and old alike about what a human being should and could strive for. It was about the common good, not about the moral incontinence and dissipation that was shortly to follow in the 70's, even faster in the 80's, galloping by the 90's...when bad, greedy men started to show us all their corrupt minds and souls at the expense of the common good. Men who would lead us straightway into nihilism.

Few realize that Lorne Greene, Ben, was Jewish in real life, that the show's creator, David Dortort, was son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. That Michael Landon ('Little Joe' and 'Charles' of 'Little House on the Prarie') was half-Jewish, half Catholic. Landon, few realize, took a lot of flack from the Hollywood NY_LA establishment for his kind of family-oriented entertainment. Many of the moguls and critics accused him of being an anachronism, out of step with the times in the 1970's, and the like. But the American people by and large were very grateful for him and his work which inspired ideals.

It wasn't religion per se that was determinative, it was the decision to be decent. And it was real and thoughtful talent, from producers to writers to actors. And did it deliver!

How we hope someone(s) will see how millions of Americans long for decent programming again, how there is a huge untapped market 'out there' which will reap not only spiritual but financial rewards for those who decide we've had enough of decadence. We need more Lorne Greene's, Michael Landon's and David Dortort's, and to send narcissist's like Lorne Michaels (SNL), Howard Stern and their evil muses packing.
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3 comments:

  1. The only why to save the mass media entertainment industry is to kill it. The people in charge are ideologues who are using the mass media as a weapon to destroy what we hold to be good and sacred. If we put pressure on them to cancel a rotten show, they'll just replace it another one of the same. No, the only way to fix this mess is to starve the entire thing to death. The fanatics who now run the industry will move on when they realize nobody will buy their filth anymore. Then, if we have enough brains, we can tell the new owners: decent programing or you'll end up like the previous owners.

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  2. I prefer to appeal to the consciences of well-to-do Catholics and other persons of good will who see the horrific effects of media, of those who would "program" us into dissipation and unparalleled corruption.

    People with means need to finally step up to the plate and find ways to force hostile takeovers $$$ $$$ for the sake of their and all our children and grandchildren, lest they have to render a most terrible account to God for what they did and did not do with their money stewardship. In every country they who mediate history, current events and entertainment create culture. This makes for fearful obligations before the Creator.

    If this is what you mean by "killing" it, then I agree; otherwise it is not clear what you can mean.

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  3. Neglected this comment from Carol I see:

    Son's upset with us for getting him hooked on ION Television at night. Can't help it --we watch tv in the long N.E. winters, but we don't get many channels. (One winter we watched the news and Seinfeld reruns, so we're getting better!) It'll be different when there's light into the evening, but we like "Without A Trace" a LOT. It's positive, and not afraid of mentioning Catholicism - in a recent episode, the main FBI agent wended his way on a late night through the evidence storage room to tuck a little personal note under the "perhaps-miraculous" weeping St. Therese statue (which the show was about, which closed with dual prayed-for reconciliations). I'm guessing maybe "CSI: Miami" also isn't afraid to tackle the faith a bit, as in an episode a few months ago, I marveled to see "Horatio Caine" awaiting Confession with the blood of a dead man on his hands. If left to myself (rarely) I will tune into the Spanish soap opera; it is hilarious, clean, the show features *old* people in some prime scenes and storylines, and there are crucifixes and little priests galore!

    I think it's getting better out there. Not good, but better. --C

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