October 4, 2010

The Magic Has Gone

There are some things that are sacred, things that should remain constant in our lives: ice-creams at the beach; the smell of freshly mown grass; and the magic windows in Play School.

If one of these things changes, it would cause me to stop and question reality. This happened to me recently when I found myself staring aghast at the television screen one weekday afternoon. Play School had changed the magic windows.

Part of the magic of the magic windows as a child was the way the camera would tantalisingly zoom in and leave me breathless with anticipation, wondering which window we were going to go through that day. My favourite was the arched window, which appealed to my artistic side, reminding me of majestic churches and buildings with beautiful stained-glass windows.

Sadly the children of today will now never know that delightful sense of anticipation -  that simple pleasure. Nowadays, the camera pans straight to the chosen one of three windows (not four) – no hesitation, no excitement nor sense of expectation.

It's equally tragic that today's children will never know the quality television that was around in my day including "Beverly Hillbillies" where a family of uneducated hillbillies strike it rich and move to the Beverley Hills. How many of us secretly wished we had some unknown rich relative that was going to leave his fortune to us or wondered whether we had any untapped oil-wells in our backyards? And yessireebob, one of the gosh-durned things 'bout this show is that we sure learned us how to speak hillbilly.

Another top quality program was the brilliantly deep and complex struggles of a stranded alien in 'My Favourite Martian' and the fear that he might be caught by the loopy landlady or the clumsy cop. I tried to watch one episode recently and was grateful I hadn't had anything to eat beforehand.

I'll never forget the beloved 'Lost in Space' series with its dodgy sets and equally dodgy storylines and acting. For many years, the show's producers had us convinced that all women in the future were going to wear big hair and miniskirts and everyone would own a weird looking robot with useless hooks for hands who would regularly roll around, waving his arms and shouting "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!" which seemed to be his only real talent, the poor dear thing.

Sigh! While we have become too sophisticated for the simple, and yes I'll admit it, fairly bad television programs of my youth, it seems kind of sad to me kind that we seem to have lost much of the naïve, clean, fun and violence-free shows that we had back then. Although upon further consideration of the brutality in the Wile E Coyote and similar cartoons, I may have to retract some of that statement.

But as I ponder the magic windows I wonder whether it's me that has changed – is it that life has become too fast-paced and I have lost that sense of wonder and anticipation? I hope not. Could someone pass me the remote, I might watch some quality programming one of these afternoons.

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