Photo courtesy of pinterest.com
Like most other folks, I enjoy television.
I remember having my own TV set in my bedroom for as long as I can remember.
I watched and enjoyed many shows – cartoons, sitcoms, documentaries, miniseries and hour-long dramas – over the years.
But I have gotten to thinking about the programs in which I was a regular partaker of, that I find myself still watching and enjoying today – or would if it was on.
Here’s my list of such shows that I still watch or would, the only rule being that it would have to be the entire series, not parts of it.
By the way, these shows are in chronological order, beginning with one starring someone who remains my all-time number one crush to this day, after over forty years…
Photo courtesy of comics-x-eaminer.com
WONDER WOMAN (ABC/CBS, 1976-1979)
I was in love with Lynda Carter beginning at nine years old, and as I began puberty, which was when this show was on.
And as it is aired on the nostalgia-based Me-TV Network Saturday nights, as I am now in my fifties, I remain in love with this woman; I make it a point to not miss an episode.
To me, Lynda Carter was the epitome of the perfect female form, particularly when she was transforming into Wonder Woman via that spinning move.
Plus she has aged very well, thank you very much!
Though I think that Gal Godot was a great choice to play the princess from Themyscira in that 2017 smash box office hit of a movie – or Paradise Island, as it was called in the TV show – with the sequel scheduled for release in June of next year; she was definitely the right person to play that quintessential superhero,
In my book, there’s still nothing like the original.
Photo courtesy of stan.com.au
THE DEGRASSI SERIES (Syndicated/The-N/CBC, 1987-1991, 2001-2015)
It’s interesting that the teen drama that’s widely considered as the best is one that’s made and based in Canada, rather than in the United States.
I remember first checking out “Degrassi Junior High” on PBS while a college student, then continuing to watch these teens from the Toronto area deal with all the issues that teens go through as they entered and graduated high school, and in the reboot – the first one, for all intents and purposes (talk about setting a trend!) – that began in 2001 and continued for a decade and a half!
One word stands out in my mind regarding this Degrassi universe:
A good pic from “Degrassi, The Next Generation”, featuring the cast members that went on to become stars, Nina Dobrev (far right) and Drake (in wheelchair). Photo courtesy of hollywood.com
There wasn’t one issue – sex, drugs, drinking, teen pregnancy, racism, homophobia, suicide, and later transgender issues, mental illness, and even abortion – that these set of shows ignored, and it wasn’t done in a way that was resolved within thirty minutes.
I have many of the episodes from all three of the main Degrassi shows on tape, which still I like to watch.
And the fact that it has produced stars like Shenae Grimes (“90210” – the new one) Nina Dobrev (“The Vampire Diaries” and a new show called “Fam”, who incidentally I think is gorgeous), and particularly Drake, who is the all-time biggest star to come out of there, hasn’t hurt.
Fred Savage (left) and Danica McKellar (right) filming the most famous first kiss in television history. Photo courtesy of mentalfloss.com
THE WONDER YEARS (ABC, 1988-1993)
I remember watching the Super Bowl in late January of 1988, and the announcers plugging this show and mentioning how good it is while Doug Williams and his Washington teammates were winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Like millions of others, I was not disappointed as I watched Kevin Arnold’s and Winnie Cooper’s first kiss.
And I was not disappointed in the five seasons that followed, as it showed Winnie, Kevin, and his BFF Paul Pfeiffer going through all the normal adolescent stuff in the background of the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s; the pilot featured Winnie’s family getting the horrible news that Winnie’s cool brother was killed in Vietnam.
Though it’s not currently on in reruns at the moment, this is one show that I would make a point to watch if a network put it back into circulation.
And I think it would be a great idea if a reboot was made, or at least a TV reunion movie; I’d like to know what Kevin, Paul & Winnie were up to now.
The cast of “Party of Five” from the first season. Photo courtesy of variety.com
PARTY OF FIVE (Fox, 1994-2000)
I knew that this show about five siblings ranging in age from not quite a year old to 24 who lost their parents in a car crash and dealing with the fallout from that would be an excellent one when the very first episode featured Bailey, the 16-year old played by Scott Wolf, was yelling at the oldest brother Charlie, played by Matthew Fox, to get a job after he screwed up some money-making venture, the family on the verge of losing the house to foreclosure for missing a mortgage payment with the siblings risking being separated.
That set the tone for the series, as it exuded realism; not only did I never miss an episode until the very last season while it was first run (an exception to my rule for this list),
When Pop-TV was recently showing reruns of the first season, I made sure to watch those episodes, remembering how good a show it was.
Of course the fact that Neve Campbell, who played Julia, was an absolute babe who, if I had to pick, was my biggest crush in the 90s along with Jennifer Connelly and the young lady who played Myra, Urkel’s obsessed girlfriend in “Family Matters” who tragically died of stomach cancer before her 30th birthday, Michelle Williams;
Was on “Party of Five” didn’t hurt as Neve was my exact type.
Jennifer Love Hewitt, who played Bailey’s love interest Sarah starting from the second season, was real cute, too.
Plus, I must mention, the acting and story lines were top-notch and very well done; there’s a reason why pretty much all of the cast went on to have good careers in TV and the movies after “Party of Five” finished.
Lucy Lawless (Xena) and Renee O’ Connor (Gabrielle) from a show I so much liked in the 1990s. Photo courtesy of popclassicsjg.blogspot.com
XENA, WARRIOR PRINCESS (Syndicated, 1995-2001)
Recently I realized once and for all that I am attracted to strong women.
It was a factor in my loving “Wonder Woman” in my formative years and still loving that show (and Lynda Carter) today,
And it was/is a big factor in me not only being a regular viewer of this show in the mid-to-late 90s,
But also making a special point to watch the reruns of this warrior with the leather and the chakram kicking much butt on El Rey Network.
In fact, it’s on right now; I’d be watching it if I wasn’t typing this.
Besides Xena, who I felt could kick Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman’s a** (not Gal Godot’s version, I don’t think) in a fight, the other thing that I really liked about this show was her sidekick, Gabrielle.
Played by Renee O’ Connor, “Xena” was just as much about her growing over the course of the series, from naive tag-along to an Amazon Queen who kicked a** right along with Xena.
Plus I must admit, she was my type; I had a big crush on her – not quite as big as Neve, Jennifer or Michelle (Urkel’s girlfriend), but big nonetheless.
Most of all, “Xena” featured characters that were strong role model for girls rather than stereotyped submissive wimps in distress, which I thought was real cool.
As was the main character from this show…
The cast of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, featuring Sarah Michelle Gellar (middle) in the title role. Photo courtesy of bloody-disgusting.com
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (WB, 1997-2003)
There were four things that I enjoyed most about this TV version of the original 1992 movie starring Kristy Swanson – which I felt was akin to the TV version of “Batman” in its camp while this TV version of “Buffy” was akin to the darker, more realistic version of the 1989 “Batman” movie with Michael Keaton…
1. Not only was this TV version of Buffy a cutie who kicked much butt, she was funny! I loved the cracks that she often made as she dusted the vamps with her “Mr. Pointy”, and in other places.
2. The British vampire William the Bloody – also known as Spike – played by James Marsters. The greatest TV villain since Dallas’ J.R. Ewing and Dynasty’s Alexis Carrington/Colby. He was just so cool, funny, and just plain fun to watch as he spent several seasons trying to kill the slayer.
3. How the character of Willow, the brainy girl who ended up being a lesbian witch played by Alyson Hannigan, grew over the course of the series from a computer (so-called) nerd to a bad-a** wiccan who even embraced her dark side, battling Buffy after her girlfriend Tara was killed at the end of the sixth season and trying to end the world before her lifelong best friend, Xander (played by Nicholas Brendon), talked her down.
4. Cordelia, Sunnydale High’s resident mean girl played by Charisma Carpenter. Yes, she was, for the most part, a word-that-rhymes-with-witch, but she was also a hottie who I had a big crush on and felt would have made the perfect Wonder Woman if a TV or movie version of her were made at that time, the resemblance was so there, she could have passed for Lynda Carter’s sister or niece if not her daughter.
The original cast of “Charmed” (sorry, Rose McGowan). Photo courtesy of syfy.com
CHARMED (WB, 1998-2006) – The original series, NOT the current rebooted one
I was first interested in this show due to having watched two of the three stars – Shannen Doherty, who played oldest sister Prue, and Alyssa Milano, who played younger sister Phoebe – on TV for years, from the original “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Who’s The Boss”.
I was not disappointed as once again, this show about three powerful witches exuded strong women serving as strong role models for girls.
And the fact that they were attractive – I particularly liked Alyssa – didn’t hurt.
If I had to choose a favorite character, however, it would be middle sister Piper, played by Holly Marie Combs.
Piper was the perfect combination of strong witch and the nurturing, prototypical girl next door who you took home to mom, married, and then became a mother figure to you; “Charmed” was great at showing that as she married her guardian white-lighter, Leo (played by Brian Crouse) and had two sons.
In fact, I call ladies like that “Holly Marie Combs” types, because Holly gave off that vibe.
Rose McGowan’s character of Paige, brought in after Doherty was killed off, was pretty good as well; I didn’t really lose interest in the show afterwards.
The original cast of “Dawson’s Creek”. Photo courtesy of bustle.com
DAWSON’S CREEK (WB, 1998-2003)
Another show that I enjoyed and watched every episode of when it was first run that I make a point to watch in reruns when shown today, as it did last year on Pop TV.
Like Party of Five and Degrassi, it was the realism and acting performances that made me a fan of the show.
And much like Party of Five, there’s a reason why all four members of the original cast – James VanderBeek (Dawson), Katie Holmes (Joey), Joshua Jackson (Pacey), and Michelle Williams (Jen) went on to successful careers – particularly Williams with her two Oscar nominations and her Golden Globe for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn; she had that legend down.
Of course Katie has never left the spotlight either with her movie career, marriage to Tom Cruise and current relationship with Jamie Foxx.
The episode of Dawson’s Creek that come to mind the most is the series finale, the one where Jen is found to have a terminal heart condition after the birth of her baby and dies.
It was sad of course, but served as the perfect ending to that series.
I also liked Andie, the smart, perky girl who dated Pacey and came down with schizophrenia played by Meredith Monroe; the initial put-down banter between her and Pacey early in the second season was fun to watch.
The cast of “American Dreams”. Photo courtesy of episodate.com
AMERICAN DREAMS (NBC, 2002-2005)
I liked this drama set in Philadelphia in the mid-1960s amongst the backdrop of Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” so much,
That I have the distinction of having every episode on tape, even having the episodes taped for me during the third and last season when I was at work and couldn’t be home to watch it.
I honestly don’t think there was anything about this show that I didn’t like, besides the character of Chris, played by current “This Is Us” star Milo Ventimiglia in the third season;
The 60s music – Motown and all the rest – was great,
The acting was excellent,
And it was realistic in dealing with the issues of that time, particularly racial as a part of the show’s story line depicted how the African-American Walker family, whose father Henry (played by Jonathan Adams) worked in the Pryor’s TV and radio store and whose oldest son Sam (played by Arlen Escarpeta) went to school with the two oldest Pryor kids, JJ (played by Will Estes) and Meg (played by Brittany Snow of “Pitch Perfect” fame), who was a dancer on American Bandstand along with her best friend Roxanne (played by Vanessa Lengies),
Was sometimes mistreated in a racist way, particularly Sam.
There were three scenes that were the most memorable to me…
1. The one where Meg and her best friend Roxanne were hanging out with the singing group Jay and the Americans after an American Bandstand taping, and finding themselves dancing to the Drifters’ “On Broadway”; that was so well produced,
2. Meg, Roxanne, and the rest of the American Bandstand dancers’ reactions to the Beatles’ historical arrival in America, going nuts while dancing to “I Want To Hold Your Hand” on the show.
3. Everyone’s reactions of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy at the end of the pilot, particularly Meg and Roxanne crying at their desks in school and a TV showing the actual breaking news reports of JFK’s tragic death in Dallas.
4. The last episode of the first season, which saw Philadelphia in a race riot, one of the many that broke out that summer of 1964. Meg was caught in Philly’s black section with Sam in what was going to be a branch of her father’s store, and of course she was extremely scared while she waited for her dad to rescue her, with Sam comforting her.
One can imagine how disappointed I was when this show was canceled after only three seasons.
I can only hope that it can come back on again in reruns somewhere.
Or – dare I hope – it gets rebooted. I would love to see that show set in the late 1970s or 1980s and find out what Meg and everybody else is up to.
Some of the cast of the TV version of “Friday Night Lights”. Photo courtesy of vox.com
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (NBC/Syndicated, 2006-2011)
I firmly believe there has never been a better portrayal of football than in the book, movie, and television series “Friday Night Lights”, depicting the extreme devotion to high school football in Texas and one small town’s – (fictional) Dillon in this case – devotion to such.
As well as not only the ups, downs and pressures that the coach and the players go through to win a state championship for their school and community,
But how the rest of the folks, like the families of the coach and the players and the various students of Dillon High School get by and try to thrive and survive living in a town where football is absolutely everything.
I think everyone knew that the small screen version of “Friday Night Lights” was going to match the book and movie versions in quality,
When in the very first episode, all-universe, getting a full scholarship to a major football power quarterback Jason Street (played by Scott Porter) gets paralyzed by a vicious hit during the Panthers’ first game.
Which completely set the tone for the next five years of that series; how could the end of a star quarterback’s career, a kid who until that one split second had everything going for him, not set the tone?
Starz is currently showing reruns of this drama, and I watch it whenever I am able to; it’s that outstanding of a show.
Another image of my all time number one crush, this one from the first season. Photo courtesy of marciokenobi.wordpress.com