Thursday, September 22, 2005

TELEVISION - THE FIRST THOUSAND YEARS


I once saw a TV guide, or something, that claimed to list the top shows of the millennium. Since TV wasn't around until 1948 that left around 950 years of programming that could not qualify simply because there was no way to broadcast it. I thought this was unfair, favoring shows in the 20th century, so did a little research and decided to add my historical shows to the list.
This list is not chronological.
SHOW: INQUEST P.O.P.E._STATION: THE TRINITY NETWORK_This hour cop drama dealt with the trials of the boys in The Spanish Inquisition. Storylines had the characters cracking down on heretics who worked on the Sabbath or were of the Jewish faith and other such heinous crimes against God. Critics praised the show for it's gritty look achieved by the revolutionary technique of using hand-held candles.
SHOW: POCKET FULL OF POSIES _STATION: BLACK DEATH NETWORK _This popular game show took people stricken with the plaque and put them before contestants who would then wager on which would die first. Winners could receive valuable prizes such as a stale loaf of bread, rancid wine or a year's worth of bloodlettings.
SHOW: MASON AND DIXION _STATION: THE UNION NETWORK_Despite its being unpopular this show about brother fighting brother ran for four years and employed a large cast. This cutting edge show dealt with such hot topics as miscegenation and whether "The Negro" had the intelligence to vote.
SHOW: THE WITCH HUNTERS _STATION: COLONIAL NETWORK _This nighttime teen soap was the Buffy the Vampire Slayer of its day. The drama starred three teenaged girls who had the power to spot people who worshiped Satan. The accused would be set afire, drowned or weighted down with stones until dead. The genius of the show was that no one was safe. The suspense of who would be next to die kept the audience, and cast, on their toes.
SHOW: MANIFEST DESTINY _STATION: THE NEW WORLD NETWORK_A popular adventure series about the genocide of the indigenous people of the Americas. Young boys tuned in each week to see their hero, Chris Columbus, cut of the noses of those thieving San Salvadorians. Or to see Ponce de Leon run a red man through with his sword for not knowing the location of the mythical Fountain of Youth. Because the show was so popular with younger viewers the network received many letters from angry parents regarding the violence - they wanted more. The network honored the request and received such high ratings that the show ran for 500 years.
SHOW: THREE HUNDRED'S A CROWD _STATION: TRIANGLE TRADE NETWORK _A very popular sitcom about the hilarious goings on board an American slave ship. The show's plotlines usually hinged on misunderstandings, since the slaves chained together didn't speak the same language. This long running show lasted over two hundred years!
SHOW: THE NEWCOMMERS _STATION: THE LIBERTY NETWORK_This comedy pokes fun at immigrants who came to America seeking a better life, but who have a strange way of talking and dressing. But the real comedic irony comes when those who were immigrants just a few years before behave as if they've been in America all long and treat the newcomers like they don't belong. Amazingly, this show is still running today.
SHOW: THE CRUSADERS _STATION: THE HOLY CITY NETWORK_This hour long army show took full advantage of exotic locations as the shows plot revolved around the taking back of the holy land from those infidels the Turks. Despite many cast changes, this program ran for generations.
SHOW: CAMP MANZANAR _STATION:: THE CONSTITUTION NETWORK _A wacky sitcom about a group of Japanese-Americans who had their rights, property and dignity taken away by the government. This show was largely ignored by Americans and is all but forgotten now but, at the time, had its devoted fans who fought to keep it going.
SHOW: LI'L JIMMY CROW_STATION: THE CONFEDERATE NETWORK _The show followed the humorous misadventures of a cute little black boy who didn't quite understand his place in the world and so tried to do all the same things other children did, like using a public restroom, looking a white person in the eye or be treated like a human being. Although not as popular in the North, this show lasted well into the 20th century. It had a way of making some people feel better about themselves.
Don't worry if you've never seen these shows, if I know my history, most of them will be in reruns in one form or another.

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